Senator Richard Blumenthal Calls for Halt to Cruise Travel as 88 Ships Report COVID Cases

Following a surge in COVID-19 cases on cruise ships, Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and cruise lines to stop cruise travel.

Florida, where many of the affected cruise ships dock, hit a record-breaking 46,900 cases in one day on Tuesday, with weekly averages and hospitalizations also increasing.

The CDC reported that 88 cruise ships are currently under investigation or observation, with another four being monitored. It did not state how many cases have been reported on the ships.

Though no cruise lines have announced plans to halt travel, Senator Blumenthal took to Twitter to call for them to stop.

"Our warnings have proved sadly prescient and continuously compelling," Blumenthal wrote. "Time for CDC and cruise lines to protect consumers & again pause—docking their ships."

Florida's seven-day average of daily cases rose to 29,400 this week. Hospitalizations also increased from about 1,200 patients two weeks ago to about 3,400 as of Wednesday—a 183.3 percent increase. That total, though, is less than one-fifth the number of hospitalizations amid the Delta variant surge in August.

A chart from the Mayo Clinic shows the dramatic spike in the rate of positive cases in Florida beginning in mid-December, going from an average of 2.6 percent at the end of November to 14.4 percent as of December 26.

The U.S. cruise industry has only been reopened for about six months, with ships beginning to depart from Florida again in June after COVID-19 shutdowns. No ships so far have had enough cases on board to necessitate a return to port.

Carnival Cruise Line, Miami, Florida
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more cruise ships due to new COVID-19 cases aboard. Above, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon cruise ship is shown docked at PortMiami on Friday, April 9, in Miami. Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

Some cruise ships, though, have been denied entry at some foreign ports.

Several Florida-based ships have reported outbreaks. The Carnival Freedom was denied entry to Aruba and Bonaire after an undisclosed number of passengers and crew aboard caught the virus.

Some cruise ships have not been allowed to disembark in Mexican ports due to cases reported, bringing to memory the early days of the pandemic when cruise lines negotiated docking plans as ships were being turned away by officials worried about the virus's spread.

The Mexican government said Tuesday that it would allow cruise ships with reported coronavirus cases to dock. The country's Health Department said passengers or crew who show no symptoms will be allowed to come ashore normally, while those with symptoms or a positive virus test will be quarantined or given medical care.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Celebrity Edge, cruise ship, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The CDC said 88 cruise ships are now under investigation or observation but did not specify how many cases were reported on board. Above, people stand in line as they prepare to board the Celebrity Edge cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 26. Photo by Maria Alejandra Cardona/AFP via Getty Images