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COVID response guru/cruise industry advisor Scott Gottlieb in the spotlight

Dr. Scott Gottlieb spoke to media aboard Norwegian Encore Aug. 7 when it became the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to return to service stateside, from the Port of Seattle
In an extended 'Face the Nation' interview, Dr. Scott Gottlieb — a leading light in the COVID-19 fight and a cruise industry advisor — said governors shouldn't tell businesses they can't mandate a vaccine.

'I don't think governors should tell schools and businesses you can't mandate a vaccine. If a business makes a decision that the only way that I could protect my employees or my customers is by having a fully vaccinated workforce, they should have the ability to make that decision,' Gottlieb said.

He served at the US Food and Drug Administration under the George W. Bush and Trump administrations and was FDA commissioner from 2017-2019.

Healthy Sail Panel co-chair and NCLH advisor

Gottlieb — who co-chaired the Royal Caribbean Group-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Healthy Sail Panel, whose recommendations were adopted by the whole industry, and continues to advise NCLH on its COVID-19 protocols — didn't mention cruising during his 'Face the Nation' appearance.

A heavyweight engaged in crusing's response

But the hour and 20-minute interview provides meaty perspective from one of the real heavyweights engaged in cruising's COVID response.

NCLH is in a reluctant legal battle with its home state, Florida, for not allowing it to require passengers show documentation of vaccination to sail.  

A US district judge sided with the cruise company in early August, granting NCLH a preliminary injunction against the state enforcing this ban. Florida has appealed to the 11th Circuit Court.

NCLH currently mandates 100% vacccination of crew and passengers — no exceptions for children too young to be eligible — and vaccination is a condition of shoreside employment for US-based customer or vendor-facing roles. The employee vaccination requirement is not in legal question.

Impact in Florida

Gottlieb went on to note that Florida 'let the virus spread largely unchecked in terms of personal mitigation. People weren't wearing masks. They weren't encouraged to wear masks. Vaccination was encouraged for the elderly population, but not widely. So they didn't aggressively try to vaccinate anyone except their elderly population. So they made policy choices. And the consequence was an infection that largely engulfed most parts of the state.' 

Florida, he said, 'probably has one of the highest positivity rates of any state in the nation right now.'

Gottlieb's new book

Gottlieb is the author of a new book, 'Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic,' due out Sept. 21. He's also on the board of Pfizer, which produced the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by the US.

He has been a prominent voice throughout the pandemic, and his guidance to the cruise industry has certainly been instrumental in its safe resumption and lent credibility to the effort. He addressed media at Norwegian Cruise Line's stateside resumption on Aug. 7 aboard Norwegian Encore at the Port of Seattle.

Gottlieb's 'Face the Nation' comments covered a wide array of issues including why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ill-equipped to cope with the COVID crisis and what changes he recommends to strengthen America's pandemic preparedness.


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