Mike Pence reportedly overruled the CDC on extending a cruise ship ban to 2021, the latest example of the White House sidelining expert advice in the pandemic

insider@insider.com (Bill Bostock)
  • Vice President Mike Pence stopped the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from extending a ban on cruise-ship journeys until 2021, Axios reported.

  • Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, told CDC Director Robert Redfield that extending the "no-sail order" to February 2021 was unfeasible, the report said.

  • The ban on cruises was first imposed on March 14, 2020, and has been extended twice.

  • The news is the latest in a string of stories showing how the White House has sidelined scientific advice during the pandemic.

  • In July, four former CDC directors wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that said: "Trying to fight this pandemic while subverting scientific expertise is like fighting blindfolded."

  • The no-sail order was due to expire on Wednesday, September 30. USA Today reported late Tuesday that it had been extended, but only until October 31.

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pence redfield
A composite image of CDC Director Robert Redfield and Vice President Mike Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence prevented the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from extending the ban on cruise-ship travel into 2021, Axios reported.

On Tuesday, Pence and CDC director Robert Redfield met in the White House Situation Room to discuss the state of the withered cruise industry, two White House coronavirus task force sources told the news outlet.

The CDC first imposed a 30-day "no-sail order" on cruise ships on March 14, 2020, which was extended on July 16.

The ban expired on Wednesday, September 30, with Redfield asking to extend the order until February 2021, Axios said.

But Pence told Redfield that couldn't happen, the report said.

Later on Tuesday, USA Today reported that the ban had been extended, but only until October 31.

FILE PHOTO: Fishermen sail past a group of cruise ships anchored in Manila Bay as its crew members undergo quarantine amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, Philippines, May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Cruise vessels cluster off Philippines

The news is the latest in a string of examples showing how the White House is ignoring scientific advice during the coronavirus pandemic.

In early April — following a CDC notice advising people to wear face coverings — Trump told reporters: "I don't think I'm going to be doing it."

A week later, The New York Times reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US' top infectious-disease expert, had advised the White House to enforce social-distancing measures since February, but that his advice was ignored.

Fauci later confirmed the Times report. Social-distancing guidelines were finally issued by the US government on March 16.

On May 8, a CDC official said that White House had chosen to ignore much of the agency's 17-page reopening plan for the country.

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Redfield speaks while President Donald Trump listens during the White House coronavirus briefing on April 22, 2020.

The Trump administration has also ignored and even criticized CDC advice on reopening schools. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said on July 16 that "science should not stand in the way of' schools reopening."

In an op-ed in published in The Washington Post on July 14, four former directors of the CDC wrote: "Trying to fight this pandemic while subverting scientific expertise is like fighting blindfolded."

And on July 20, at least 1,200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences signed a letter that slammed Trump's "denigration of scientific expertise."

Earlier this month Politico reported, citing leaked emails, that Trump political appointee Dr. Paul Alexander accused career scientists of trying to undermine the president's campaign to reopen schools.

The New York Times also reported that a controversial guideline published by the CDC in August — which said that those exposed to the novel coronavirus but did not show symptoms should not seek a test — was in fact written that by Trump officials and published despite scientists' objetions. The CDC has since retracted that advice.

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