DeSantis fights to get cruise ships sailing again after devastating year due to COVID-19

Three more local residents have lost their battle with COVID-19 as Gov. Ron DeSantis battled with the federal government over allowing Florida-based cruise ships to start sailing again.

Two of the latest fatalities were in Marion County and the other one was in Sumter County. They are among the 1,760 COVID-19-related deaths in the tri-county area, the 33,783 in Florida and the 548,664 across the country.

DeSantis spoke at Port Canaveral on Friday while appearing alongside officials from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and Disney cruise lines. He and Attorney General Ashley Moody suggested that legal action could come soon if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t lighten its grip on one of Florida’s biggest tourism industries by the summer.

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DeSantis said the year-old ban on United States-based cruises is damaging Florida’s economy, which typically benefits to the tune of billions of dollars generated by cruise lines. Florida largely is known as the cruise capital of the United States, with extremely busy ports in Port Canaveral, Miami and Port Everglades in South Florida.

DeSantis pointed out that cruise lines have been allowed to reopen in other countries and many people are flying to the Bahamas to board ships. He also said that with testing and vaccines becoming more and more available – all adults in Florida will be eligible to get vaccines starting April 5 – taking a cruise doesn’t present any more danger than air and train travel.

All told, Florida is reporting 2,039,062 COVID-19 cases – an increase of 5,883 from Friday to Saturday. Of those, 2,001,325 are residents. A total of 82,829 COVID-19 cases have been reported in long-term care centers and 31,532 in correctional facilities. Across the state, 84,561 people have been hospitalized.

Locally, 32 new COVID-19 cases were reported Saturday in and around The Villages. Those include:

  • The Villages (Sumter, Lake and Marion counties) up 14 for a total of 4,474;
  • Leesburg up 6 for a total of 4,018;
  • Fruitland Park up 4 for a total of 738;
  • Wildwood up 3 for a total of 1,002;
  • Lady Lake up 2 for a total of 1,597;
  • Oxford up 1 for a total of 498;
  • Summerfield up 1 for a total of 1,803; and
  • Belleview up 1 for a total of 1,257.

Below is a breakdown of other COVID-19 activity in the local area:

TRI-COUNTY AREA

  • Cases: 64,037 – increase of 159
  • Deaths: 1,760
  • Hospitalizations: 3,911

SUMTER COUNTY

  • Cases: 8,730 – increase of 37
  • Deaths: 244
  • Hospitalizations: 549
  • Vaccinations: 73,308 (46,350 both doses)
  • Areas/cities with most cases: The Villages (4,116), Wildwood (1,002), Bushnell (932), Coleman (839) and Oxford (498).

LAKE COUNTY

  • Cases: 26,418 – increase of 64
  • Deaths: 600
  • Hospitalizations: 1,405
  • Vaccinations: 115,782 (65,117 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Clermont (6,944), Leesburg (4,018), Eustis (2,331), Mount Dora (1,973) and Tavares (1,882). The Villages also is reporting 177 cases.

MARION COUNTY

  • Cases: 28,889 – increase of 58
  • Deaths: 916
  • Hospitalizations: 1,957
  • Vaccinations: 92,184 (55,350 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Ocala (21,160), Summerfield (1,803), Dunnellon (1,318), Belleview (1,257) and Silver Springs (619). The Villages also is reporting 181 cases.

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