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Passengers prepare to board the Celebrity Edge cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale on June 26. Photo: MARIA ALEJANDRA CARDONA/AFP via Getty Images

The first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port since the start of the pandemic will set sail out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday evening with nearly all vaccinated passengers aboard, AP reports.

The big picture: Celebrity Edge, operated by Celebrity Cruises, has a 40% passenger capacity and 99% of passengers on board are vaccinated against COVID-19, surpassing the 95% requirement set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per AP.

  • Compliant with CDC requirements and a Florida law that bans businesses from requiring customers to prove their vaccination status, Celebrity Cruises asked guests if they would like to share their vaccination status.
  • Individuals who do not show or say they are vaccinated will face additional restrictions on board, per AP.

What they're saying: “Words can’t describe how excited we are to be a part of this historic sailing today,” said Elizabeth Rosner, 28, who moved from Michigan to Orlando in December 2019 to be close to the cruise industry’s hub, according to AP.

  • “This is an emotional day for me. When I stepped on board the ship, I was proud. It’s a beautiful ship,” said Royal Caribbean Cruises’ CEO Richard Fain.
  • “You can truly feel the palpable sense of excitement and energy amongst the group as we prepare for our welcoming of our first guests,” said Kate McCue, the first American woman to captain a cruise ship. “I’ve never honestly seen a group so excited to get back to work.”

Of note: Some passengers arrived to the port donning matching shirts that read "straight outta vaccination" and “vaccinated and ready to cruise.”

Go deeper

Oct 3, 2021 - Health

New England experiencing COVID surge despite high vaccination rates

Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

Hospitals across most New England states are seeing full intensive care units and staff shortages as growing coronavirus cases continue to shake the region, AP reports.

Why it matters: The New England region has the highest vaccination rate in the country, per AP. However, the states are still reporting record case counts, hospitalizations and deaths, comparable to pre-vaccine peaks.

Oct 3, 2021 - Health

CDC releases COVID guidelines for the holidays

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines Friday for how individuals can decrease their risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 during the upcoming holiday season.

Driving the news: Among the measures suggested are hosting outdoors or virtual celebrations, wearing a mask if not fully vaccinated, and using fans by open windows and doors to keep the air at indoor gatherings fresh.

  • The CDC advises against traveling unless fully vaccinated and wearing masks on public transportation.
  • "The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others," the guidance adds.
Oct 2, 2021 - World

World Bank to give $400 million to Nigeria for COVID vaccine funding

Photo: Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The World Bank announced plans Thursday to give Nigeria $400 million to help fund COVID-19 vaccines for its citizens.

Why it matters: The World Bank stated that the additional funding, provided through the International Development Association, would help Nigeria vaccinate 51% of its citizens in two years.