President Trump said Wednesday he will evacuate stranded cruise ships in Florida with U.S. citizens onboard.
Carnival has also also announced they have suspended sailings through the end of 2020.
Yahoo reports President Donald Trump said Wednesday that US authorities will evacuate passengers from a stranded cruise ship due to dock in Florida after being barred from several South American countries because of a coronavirus outbreak aboard.
Both the cruise ship Zaandam, where dozens of people have fallen ill, and its sister ship Rotterdam are due to enter US waters early Thursday ahead of their expected docking in Fort Lauderdale.
Trump said the US was “sending medical teams on board the ships” and taking people off, with foreigners sent home.
“We’re taking the Canadians off and giving them to Canadian authorities,” he said. “Same thing with the UK. But we have to help the people. They’re in big trouble.”
State Governor Ron DeSantis, who issued a stay-at-home order on Wednesday for Florida’s 21 million residents, had earlier stated he didn’t want the ships to come into port.
But late Wednesday he told Fox News network that he had not realized there were US citizens aboard.
The ships’ operator, Holland America Line, said it was awaiting confirmation that disembarkation will take place in Fort Lauderdale.
About 1,200 passengers who are not ill would be sent home on charter planes. They will be “transported in coaches that will be sanitized, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks,” the company said.
Some 45 people with mild symptoms will remain aboard in isolation until they recover and 10 people requiring critical care will be taken ashore for treatment locally, the company said.
DeSantis, a Trump ally, had resisted calls to issue stay-at-home orders in Florida and likewise had said he didn’t want the additional burden of sick cruise ship passengers.
“I was told that these ships were all foreign nationals and that they had no connection to Florida. So I was just like, why would you just bring them to Florida?” the Republican said, explaining his earlier thinking.
“It turns out there are American citizens and we actually have Floridians.”