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CDC Extends Conditional Sail Order until January 15

Spokesperson that their orders have absolutely worked.

On Monday, in a press release, the CDC issued this statement "After the expiration of this temporary extension, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with the cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, to assist the cruise industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships".

Speaking to USA Today, the lead of the CDC's maritime unit, Capt. Aimee Treffiletti, said the agency made the decision "in the best interest of public health."

"The pandemic isn't over. We've seen what the delta variant can do," Treffiletti told the newspaper. "Despite, you know, really what have been the best efforts of the cruise industry to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers and communities, COVID-19 has still been a challenge, particularly with the delta variant."

The CDC first issued a no-sail order for cruise ships in March 2020 due to the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus within the enclosed space of a ship. On Oct. 30, 2020, the agency issued its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, requiring that cruise ship operators test their crew members as well as receive a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order from the CDC in order to operate in U.S. waters.

CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey told USA Today that there are currently 47 cruise ships sailing with paying passengers in U.S. waters that are following CDC guidance.

Treffiletti said that the CDC's orders have "absolutely" worked, saying they have reduced the risk of transmission.

"We've never expected that there would be zero risk of transmission," she said. "But one thing that's really important is that we haven't seen medical resources overwhelmed on ships - we haven't seen high rates of hospitalizations or deaths that we saw early on in the pandemic related to cruise ships. So, I think we can consider that a success."

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