Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his state would only accept the Floridians aboard a Holland America cruise ship seeking to dock after eight passengers tested positive for coronavirus and over 190 onboard have reported flu-like symptoms. According to CNN, DeSantis said his state would take the roughly 49 Floridians off the ship—from more than 300 Americans onboard —citing Florida’s 30 percent hospital bed availability. “We are going to be willing to accept Floridians on board... My understanding is most of the passengers are foreign national,” he said Wednesday. “My concern is that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge, we wouldn’t want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship.” President Trump previously said he would discuss the handling of the ship’s arrival with DeSantis. It will dock in Fort Lauderdale sometime this week after crossing the Panama Canal. Fort Lauderdale’s mayor also said he would speak to Holland America's CEO to work out a potential solution.
Four people have died on the Zaandam after it left Argentina in early March. It was first denied entry to Chile, but was later given the green light to go through the Panama Canal even though ships with coronavirus cases were initially not permitted. The Holland America ship is reportedly among more than a dozen cruise ships stranded at sea after ports have denied them entry.