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Stranded cruise ship hit by virus begs Florida to dock

SeattlePI.com Tuesday, 31 March 2020
MIAMI (AP) — As a cruise ship stranded at sea with dozens sick and four dead makes for Florida, passengers who have been confined to their rooms for more than a week are anxious for relief, hoping Gov. Ron DeSantis will change his mind and allow them to disembark despite confirmed coronavirus cases aboard.

Orlando technical writer Laura Gabaroni and her husband, Juan Huergo, have wanted to explore the southernmost tip of South America for years — to see the penguins on the Falkland Islands and the glacial landscapes of the Strait of Magellan. But their vacation turned harrowing as countries shunned them and people fell ill.

“It's been a trying time, especially because of the many ups and downs we've seen along the way,” Gabaroni said. “We are unable to leave our rooms, haven't had fresh air in days.”

Hundreds of passengers and crew members from the Zaandam have not stepped on dry land for 15 days as the novel coronavirus prompted authorities around the world to seal borders, implement checkpoints and force people into quarantines. Passengers were asked to keep their rooms dark and leave their drapes closed when they passed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night after days of wrangling with local authorities.

The Zaandam's plans to dock as early as Wednesday in Florida are still up in the air but have already been rebuked by local officials and DeSantis, who says health care resources are stretched too thin. The governor said he has been in contact with the Coast Guard and the White House about diverting the ship.

Broward County officials will meet Tuesday to decide whether to let the ship dock at its Port Everglades cruise ship terminal, where workers who greet passengers were among Florida's first confirmed coronavirus cases.

Dozens on board the Holland America Line ship have reported flu-like...
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Video Credit: CBS4 Miami - Published
News video: Gov. DeSantis, Leaders Don't Want Cruise Ship With Sick Passengers To Dock In Florida

Gov. DeSantis, Leaders Don't Want Cruise Ship With Sick Passengers To Dock In Florida 02:10

Ted Scouten reports DeSantis said it would be "a mistake" to bring the cruise ship passengers into South Florida for treatment because it already has a high number of new coronavirus infections and that number is growing.

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