A meeting of Broward County, Fla., officials will take place later today, Tuesday, March 31, to decide whether a Holland America cruise ship stricken by the coronavirus – and carrying four dead passengers and 193 others who are sick – can dock in Fort Lauderdale.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis insisted Monday that the passengers cannot be “dumped” in his state.
“We cannot afford to have people, who are not even Floridians, dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources,” DeSantis said coronavirus-stricken-cruise-ship-heads-toward-florida-governor-says-passengers-n1172431″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>during a television appearance Monday night. “We view this as a big, big problem, and we do not want to see people dumped in Southern Florida right now.”
At a news conference later, DeSantis said he was concerned that disembarking in Port Everglades will use up Florida hospitals’ scarce resources.
The news comes just two days after the Zaandam had been given permission to pass through the Panama Canal and return to Fort Lauderdale.
The Zaandam had initially been denied entry into Chile on its South American itinerary and then denied the chance to pass through the Canal to get back to its homeport in Florida, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper, until Panamanian officials relented.
One American citizen is believed to be among the four deceased passengers. The passengers were ordered to self-isolate in their staterooms since March 22.
Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, called for a port to allow the Zaandam and its sister ship, the Rotterdam, which picked up healthy passengers, to dock.
“We are dealing with a ‘not my problem’ syndrome. The international community, consistently generous and helpful in the face of human suffering, shut itself off to Zaandam leaving her to fend for herself,” Ashford covid-19-crisis” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>said in a statement. “Nations are justifiably focused on the Covid-19 crisis unfolding before them. But they’ve turned their backs on thousands of people left floating at sea. Are these reactions based on facts from experts like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or fueled by irrational fear? What happened to compassion and help thy neighbor?”
“The Covid-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our common humanity,” Ashford added. “To slam the door in the face of these people betrays our deepest human values.”
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