With 4 Dead, 200 Positive | ‘Cannot Afford’ To Handle Zaandam: Florida Governor
FLORIDA: The Governor of Florida has said ‘we can’t afford’ to have the Zaandam cruise ship carrying four dead passengers and nearly 200 with coronavirus symptoms ‘dumped’ in his state.
The Zaandam’s 450 guests and 602 crew members have not set foot on dry land for 15 days after setting sail from Buenos Aires on March 7 and were scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale in early April before the pandemic gained its ferocious pace.
‘We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox on Monday. ‘We view this as a big, big problem, and we do not want to see people dumped in Southern Florida right now.’
It comes as the number of people infected in Florida reached more than 5,400, with 70 deaths, compared to a national total of more than 160,700 who have tested positive for covid-19 and 3,004 fatalities.
Passengers were asked to keep their rooms dark and leave their drapes closed when they passed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night after days of wrangling with local authorities
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said: ‘We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources’
Dozens on board the Holland America Line ship have reported flu-like symptoms and four people have died, with at least two of the deaths blamed on the coronavirus by Panamanian authorities. The company said eight others have tested positive for COVID-19 but 2,300 passengers and crew members are in good health.
DeSantis said at a later news conference that he was worried that if the passengers disembark in Port Everglades, they will deplete Florida’s hospital beds, of which just 33 percent are available.
As has been seen throughout the world, Florida is urgently building field hospitals to cope with the surging numbers of coronavirus patients.
The governor said he has been in contact with the Coast Guard and the White House about diverting the ship.
Broward County officials will meet Tuesday to decide whether to let the ship dock at its Port Everglades cruise ship terminal, where workers who greet passengers were among Florida’s first confirmed coronavirus cases.
Passengers were asked to keep their rooms dark and leave their drapes closed when they passed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night after days of wrangling with local authorities.
The Zaandam was originally scheduled to travel on March 7 from Buenos Aires to San Antonio, Chile, and then depart on March 21 for a 20-day cruise to arrive in Fort Lauderdale in early April.