TAMPA, Fla. - The president says the United States will help people who are sick and stuck on a cruise ship that has been stranded for weeks after an outbreak of COVID-19.
"We have to from a humane standpoint. We don't have a choice," President Donald Trump said during a news conference Wednesday. "I do not want to do that. We have to, people are dying."
The Zaandam and the backup ship that was sent, the Rotterdam, are scheduled to dock Thursday in Broward County; 1,200 are aboard, including 300 Americans and 190 who are sick. The Miami Herald reports critically ill patients will be taken to Broward Health System Hospitals.
The president says medical teams will first board the ships.
Canadian and UK residents will be taken home by officials from their countries.
"We have to help the people. They are in big trouble, no matter where they are from," the president said. "They are dying, so we have to do something."
Two of the sick are Sarasota residents, Bill and Glorida Weed. Their daughter, Jennifer Allan says her 75-year-old father has had a fever for over week.
"We need to take care of other humans during this," said Allan. "The world needs to change and be more compassionate. We need to take care of each other. It doesn't matter where we are from."
Officials in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and the port will meet with Holland America's leadership to come up with a disembarkation plan for everyone on board.
The cruise left Argentina on March 7 and was rejected by several countries that already locked down their ports.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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