FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that he believes it’s a mistake to allow Holland America’s Zaandam ship to dock in South Florida.
“We think it’s a mistake to be putting people into southern Florida right now given what we’re dealing with, so we would like to have medical personnel simply dispatched to that ship and the cruise lines can hopefully arrange for that, tend to folks who may need the medical attention. But I think a lot of these are foreign nationals, and we want to make sure we have the beds available for the folks here in southern Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference outside Hard Rock Stadium.
Four people have died on the cruise ship. Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 170 passengers are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Zaandam and its sister ship, the Rotterdam, are both on their way to Port Everglades.
“I want to first start off by thanking the Panamanian government for their support in allowing us this passage so we can get our guests (and) our crew back toward to safety and back toward their journey,” Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford said.
Four passengers died on the Zaandam during what was supposed to be a two-week cruise from Argentina to Chile.
Hundreds of healthy passengers were transferred off the Zaandam to the Rotterdam, in part to prevent spreading the illness.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis is working with local, state and federal authorities to come up with a plan to receive the ships.
“Putting us at risk, which is unfair to the community, which has for weeks now been under lockdown, trying to prevent the spread of this disease,” the mayor said.
But some elected officials feel turning the ships away is the wrong choice.
”I think it would be quite inhumane of us,” Broward County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief said.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said Monday morning that officials had not yet received a request for the ships to berth.
“We know that the intent is that they come here. We will have a meeting tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock where we will further discuss what action we will actually take,” he said. “But clearly, what must be done is that we safeguard the people of South Florida. And they haven’t given us a full list of all those who are on board and what the conditions are, so there’s a lot that is yet to be done for us to understand more fully who’s on there, what the situation is.”