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United Airlines, Cruise Stocks Fall as Delta Variant Fears Rise

Airline and cruise ship stocks are weaker as concern about the Delta variant of COVID-19 rises.

United Airlines  (UAL) - Get Report, other air carriers and cruise ship operators like Carnival  (CCL) - Get Report were lower on Monday as concern about the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 put travel stocks on the defensive.

At last check United Airlines was down 4.8%, Southwest  (LUV) - Get Report was off 3.8% and American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Report was off 5.1%.

Among the cruise operators, Carnival was down 5.5%, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  (NCLH) - Get Report was off 6.2%, and Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Report was off 4.5%.

The delta variant of COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly in parts of Asia, including Japan where the Olympics will begin Friday, and in the U.S. 

An alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team tested positive for the coronavirus, U.S. Olympics officials said Monday.

Delta is the most transmissible COVID variant yet, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN. Experts said it was worsening the rise in cases among unvaccinated Americans.

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Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday that the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Walensky said cases in the U.S. were up about 70% over the past week, hospital admissions are up 36% and deaths rose 26%, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Nearly all hospital admissions and deaths, she said, are among the unvaccinated.

Concerns about the ongoing surge in Delta-variant infections also pulled down oil prices on Monday.

On Saturday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit declared that the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines for cruise lines returning to operation are rules, not suggestions.

Norwegian Cruise Lines, which filed an amicus brief in this case, is suing Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees for the right to require all passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once it restarts its Florida cruises Aug. 15.

Florida sued the CDC in April, claiming the agency’s restrictions on the cruise industry during the pandemic effectively blocked most cruises and harmed the state’s livelihood.

Last month, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report said its COVID-19 vaccine showed promise in protecting against variants of the disease, including the Delta variant.