Facing growing pressure from state leaders, DeSantis also issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday as the outbreak continues to worsen in the state. Previously he left that decision to local officials. For now, the order is expected to remain in place until April 15.
Florida has reported more than 6,400 cases of the coronavirus, including at least 251 non-residents, and more than 80 deaths, according to the report by Reuters. The state ranks eighth in the number of new cases reported in the last 24 hours, analyst Michael Newshel of investment bank Evercore ISI said in a research note.
The Zaandam, carrying nearly 1,050 passengers and crew, set sail from Buenos Aires on March 7, and soon four passengers died and another 189 became sick with flu-like symptoms.
After being refused port throughout South America, the ship was allowed to pass through the Panama Canal for an emergency journey to the United States.
But before leaving Panama, the ship’s owner, Holland America, announced the ship’s intention to travel to Fort Lauderdale, but officials at Port Everglades said Sunday the plan had not yet been approved.
Two of the four deaths on board the Zaandam have been blamed on COVID-19 and nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company said. The latest reports say at least two people on board are now in need of emergency attention.
Zaandam is being accompanied to Florida by another vessel, the Rotterdam, where healthy passengers were moved during the ship’s holdover in Panama after being denied port for weeks throughout South America.
That boat has almost 1,450 aboard.
More than 300 U.S. citizens are on both ships combined, according to reports.
No one has been off the Zaandam since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile, CNN reported.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he was not opposed to them docking in his city, according to Reuters. But he said a clear protocol was needed to protect residents.
“There can be no missteps in this process,” he told CNN, according to Reuters.
“We have to be comfortable knowing that they are being quarantined in such a way that they do not infect the rest of the community,” Trantalis said.