SARASOTA, Fla. - When Bill and Gloria Weed set sail on a 31-day cruise aboard the Holland America ship Zanndam, the novel coronavirus had not been declared a pandemic.
"There was no way to know,” explained the couple’s daughter Jennifer Allan. “If everybody knew what was really happening, then they wouldn't have gotten on the ship.”
Now 75-year-old Bill Weed remains sick and isolated with his wife. They are in a cabin with no windows and he has been fighting a fever for more than 10 days.
Allan monitors their conditions by phone.
"My dad can’t take the antibiotics that they’ve given him because he can’t swallow," she said.
The Zaandam and another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, are begging Florida officials to let them dock.
"The most important thing we are trying to do is get the ship back in port in a timely manner to one get people who need medical attention greater than that which we do have onboard to that appropriate level of medical care," said Carnival Corporation Chief Maritime Officer (Ret.) Vice Admiral William R Burke.
Governor Ron DeSantis along with Broward County Commissioners have been slow to make a decision.
They're concerned that more than 190 sick passengers will clog South Florida hospitals.
On Wednesday afternoon, Governor DeSantis said hospitals will accept any Floridians on board, but the decision to dock isn't his to make.
"I am not in control of the port, that's run by the counties, in this case, Broward County,” DeSantis said. “I know they're in consultation with the cruise ships.”
State Representative Margaret Good is urging Broward County to let the ship dock.
"This is a humanitarian issue,” Good said. “I understand the issues in Broward County, but let’s get them off the ship let’s get them moved inland or to their homes.”
Rep. Good said a hospital bed is waiting for Bill Weed and Broward County commissioners will meet Thursday to make a decision.
They could decide to let the sickest be transported by helicopter while leaving the less sick aboard for a 14-day quarantine.
Weed's daughter fears time is running out and a last-minute decision by commissioners to turn the ship away would cost lives.
"I just want people to think from the human side,” she said. “We need to take care of other humans during this.”
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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