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WASHINGTON — Federal health officials are extending the U.S. ban on cruise ships through the end of September as coronavirus infections rise in most U.S. states, including Florida.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it was extending a no-sail order that had been scheduled to expire July 24. Major cruise lines that belong to an industry trade group had already canceled cruises until Sept. 15 because of ongoing discussions with federal officials over how to restart operations safely.
In Bar Harbor, Maine’s No. 1 cruise ship destination thanks to Acadia National Park and other attractions, town leaders canceled cruise ship visits for the year on July 8. The town, which normally gets more than 100 cruise ship visits annually between late April and early November, has had no cruise ship visits this year after the vessels became early hot spots for the coronavirus. The federal CDC previously barred cruise ships carrying 250 or more passengers from U.S. waters through July 24.
Coronavirus infections are rising in 40 states, and daily deaths have climbed more than 20 percent from a week ago. Florida, where many cruises begin and end, reported nearly 14,000 new virus cases and set a single-day record of 156 deaths reported on Thursday, beating the previous high of 132 deaths reported Tuesday.
From March 1 through July 10, there have been nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 or similar illnesses and 34 deaths on cruise ships, according to the CDC. There have been 99 outbreaks covering 80 percent of the ships in U.S. waters, the CDC said.
Major cruise lines are trying to save cash and raise more money on the private credit markets to survive the pandemic. Carnival Corp. said last week that it expects to burn about $20 million a day in cash through the rest of this year.