Passengers aboard two cruise ships that have had coronavirus cases and deaths have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port, an official said Thursday. An agreement was reached among local, state and federal officials and Carnival Corp., which owns the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, said Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, the AP reports. Port Everglades traffic records listed the two ships’ arrival as "confirmed." The cruise line Holland America, which is operating the ships, said that 45 passengers who are mildly sick would stay on board until they recover, but that 10 people needed to be taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital for immediate care. Broward Health medical center said it would accept the critically ill patients.
For nearly three weeks, passengers have not been able to step onto dry land. Four elderly passengers have died on the Zaandam, at least two of COVID-19, Carnival said. Nine people have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the company said. There are 442 guests and 603 crew on the Zaandam, and 808 guests and 583 crew on the Rotterdam. The Rotterdam was sent last week to take in some of the passengers since the Zaandam was denied permission to dock at ports in South America. About 230 people have reported influenza-like symptoms since March 22, including 14 aboard the Rotterdam, while 45 currently are mildly ill, Holland America Line said. Originally opposed to the ships' arrival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday that transferring critically ill patients to hospitals was "the humanitarian thing to do." A day earlier, President Trump suggested that he had persuaded the governor to allow the ships to dock in Florida.
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