The United States Centers for Disease Control and Protection is tracking a Covid-19 outbreak across 89 different cruise ships. The CDC announced on Tuesday that it is conducting a formal investigation into the spread.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal called for cruise companies to dock their ships, saying that they are “repeating recent history as petri dishes of Covid-19 infection.”
Cruise lines like Carnival Corporation have instated guidelines on their ships such as mandatory masking and proof of vaccination, but the highly transmissible Omicron variant has bypassed these precautions.
“Our health and safety protocols put in place have proven to be effective time and time again over the past year with our sailing s being restarted across each of our brands,” said Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival, in an email to TIME magazine.
Carnival runs 32 of the 86 cruise ships currently being investigated by the CDC. 25 are operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, 15 by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and 4 by the Walt Disney Corporation’s Disney Cruise Line.
CDC shortens Covid-19 isolation time
In a much-criticized move, the CDC has officially shortened the amount of time those who have tested positive with Covid-19 must isolate themselves. Federal health officials announced on Monday that their new recommendation is to isolate for five days instead of ten.
The updated recommendation comes as the Omicron variant surges across the country, setting records for new infections per day.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said that the new guidelines “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”
The seven-day national average for new daily cases shot past 214,000 on Sunday– an 83% increase in two weeks.
President Joe Biden held a conference call with the country’s governors on Monday where he plainly stated that:
“There is no federal solution,” adding that “This gets solved at the state level.”
“Ultimately it gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help.”
Omicron hits airlines hard
The wave of Omicron infections has massively affected daily life in the US, causing many retail stores, restaurants, and airlines to be understaffed.
Tens of thousands of Christmas weekend travelers had to change their plans.
Commercial airlines canceled 656 flights within, into or out of the US on Sunday, slightly down from nearly 1,000 from Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.