Trump says US will help passengers on cruise ships floating off Florida coast

The president says the United States will help people who are sick and stuck on a cruise ship that has been stranded for weeks after an outbreak of COVID-19.

"We have to from a humane standpoint. We don't have a choice," President Donald Trump said during a news conference Wednesday. "I do not want to do that. We have to, people are dying."

The Zaandam and the backup ship that was sent, the Rotterdam, are scheduled to dock Thursday in Broward County; 1,200 are aboard, including 300 Americans and 190 who are sick. The Miami Herald reports critically ill patients will be taken to Broward Health System Hospitals.


RELATED: Daughter of Sarasota couple stuck onboard cruise ship off Florida coast fears time is running out

The president says medical teams will first board the ships.

Canadian and UK residents will be taken home by officials from their countries.

READ: Princess cruise ship with 'sick' passengers also wants to dock in South Florida

"We have to help the people. They are in big trouble, no matter where they are from," the president said. "They are dying, so we have to do something."

Two of the sick are Sarasota residents, Bill and Glorida Weed. Their daughter, Jennifer Allan says her 75-year-old father has had a fever for over week.

PREVIOUS: 4 passengers on Holland America Line cruise ship confirmed dead from COVID-19

"We need to take care of other humans during this," said Allan. "The world needs to change and be more compassionate. We need to take care of each other. It doesn't matter where we are from."

Officials in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and the port will meet with Holland America's leadership to come up with a disembarkation plan for everyone on board.
The cruise left Argentina on March 7 and was rejected by several countries that already locked down their ports.

MORE: Carnival announces additional cruise cancellations, including 'Legend' which sets sail from Port Tampa Bay

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 Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map