A cruise ship loaded with passengers suffering from the coronavirus, as well as the bodies of four guests who have already succumbed to the virus, is waiting to dock in Florida as authorities negotiate a plan for containing the virus on board.
The Holland America ship Zaandam as well as a sister cruise ship, the Rotterdam, will not be allowed to proceed into U.S. waters before cruise line owner Carnival submits and obtains approval for “a complete plan for self-support of the medical issues occurring on board the vessels,” the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Carnival executives are currently working with the Coast Guard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local officials in Broward County, Fla. to address concerns and reach unanimous consent for the ships to dock as healthy passengers disembark. The Zaandam is expected to arrive Thursday.
The Rotterdam was sent to bring emergency medical personnel and supplies to the Zaandam last week after a coronavirus outbreak occurred on board the latter, causing the deaths of four elderly passengers. Some elderly but presumed healthy passengers were transferred to the Rotterdam to protect them from the virus.
About 120 crew members and 76 guests fell ill with flu-like symptoms, the trademark of coronavirus, and two are in critical condition. A total of 1,243 passengers and 1,247 crew are aboard both ships.
President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to discuss with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis whether to let the infected ships dock.
“I am going to do what is right, not only for us but for humanity,” Trump said.
Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich expressed optimism that the ship would be allowed to dock once a final plan is decided.
“These people have been turned away from so many countries, one after the other. We are their last hope. What are we going to do? Let the ship go back out to sea and just float around and let people die? I don’t think so,” Rich said.