AMERICANS not scared away by the coronavirus are packing beaches in Florida and Texas – and Carnival says its cruise ships will set sail from those states in August.
The cruise giant will make its return to the seas nearly five months after halting operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Eight ships will set off from Galveston and Port Canaveral three months from now, according to officials.
The announcement came Monday as the reported virus cases ballooned to nearly 1.2 million in the US.
“We continue to engage with the CDC and government officials at a variety of levels about new protocols we would implement prior to a return to sailing,” said Carnival.
“We will also be in discussions with officials in the destinations we visit.”
The CDC had issued a no-sail order to cruise companies on March 14.
It is set to expire July 24, unless the the agency decides to lift it sooner.
Many cruise lines have been hit hard during the pandemic, including Carnival.
At least nine of Carnival's ships have had outbreaks with a total of 39 deaths and 1,500 infections, according to Bloomberg News.
“Everything would still have to be distanced," said Tara Smith of Kent State University's College of Public Health.
“Dancing, concerts on board, other types of entertainment? Doubtful.
"Pools? Probably overcrowded. Dining? No idea how they’d do it.”
The CDC says infectious diseases can easily spread when crew members from a ship with an outbreak transfer to other ships.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships also pose a risk because passengers can spread the disease into communities across the world after they leave their vessels.
Carnival said passengers will get refunds or vouchers for future travel if their cruises are canceled.
Carnival Corp. has raised nearly $6 billion in debt and equity since the crisis began, and its CEO recently said the company can last through 2020 with no revenue from cruises.
It remains to be seen how many Americans will hit the seas this summer, but many have already returned to the beach.
Eye-popping photos showed many sunbathers ignoring social distancing guidelines as they hit the sand in Florida and Texas in recent days.
One of the beaches that crowds flooded to was Port Aransas beach in Texas.
"It was a jungle out there," Neesy Tompkins told My San Antonio.
"No one paid attention to staying 6 feet away from others, and I only saw one person wearing a mask.
"I don't get it or understand it. If it's recommended, people should practice it."
She added that "there is trash everywhere."
"I get that people want to come out and enjoy the beach, but my concern is that it's (the COVID-19 cases) going to spike up again because people aren't paying attention to those small details that keep you safe."
Clearwater Beach in Florida reopened on Monday.
“I love it. I’m so glad to be out here," Clearwater resident Mary Bagalay told Bay 9 News.
There have been 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas, and 35,000 in Florida.
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