FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't want a cruise ship where four people died and others are sick to dock in his state, saying Monday that the state does not have the capacity to treat outsiders.
Speaking to Fox News, DeSantis said Holland America's Zandaam should not be allowed to come to Fort Lauderdale. The ship, which had more than 1,000 passengers, is coming from South America, where it has not been allowed to dock. It was allowed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night and is about three days from Florida. A sister ship, the Rotterdam, took on passengers who didn't appear to be infected, and also is on its way to Florida.
“We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources," he said before holding a news conference later Monday morning. “We view this as a big, big problem and we don’t want to see people dumped in southern Florida right now.” He has been in touch with the Trump administration about how to handle the situation.
In addition to the four dead, more than 130 Zandaam passengers and crew have COVID-19 symptoms, officials said. Four doctors and four nurses were on board to treat 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members, said the cruise line, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.
The Zandaam left Argentina on March 7. Many of its passengers are Americans and Canadians.
Broward County officials are debating whether to let the ship dock at its Port Everglades.
In a statement sent Sunday afternoon, Port Everglades officials said Holland America must submit a plan before arrival that addresses a long list of requirements for entry into the port.
In a telephone town hall Sunday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district includes parts of Broward County, said the ship should not be allowed to dock and have passengers disembark with no more than instructions to self-quarantine.
“It’s not safe for them; it’s not safe for our communities," he said.
The number of confirmed cases in Florida jumped by 912 cases on Sunday after passing the 4,000 case mark on Saturday, the largest single-day jump. Nearly half of these people are in the hotspot of Miami-Dade and Broward, the state's most populous counties.
Teachers and students across Florida, which has some of the largest school districts in the country, were set to begin virtual schooling on Monday after spring break ended in many areas of the state.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death. The vast majority of people recover, but a surge of cases needing hospital support could overwhelm the health care system's capacity.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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