SARASOTA, Fla. - Passengers aboard two cruise ships that have had coronavirus cases and deaths have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port. Two Sarasota couples are among those who will disembark at Port Everglades in Broward County.
Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine said Thursday that an agreement had been reached between local, state and federal officials and Carnival Corp., which owns the Zaandam and the Rotterdam. And Port Everglades traffic records list the two ships' arrival as "confirmed."
The Holland America cruise line says 45 sick passengers who will stay on board until they recover, but that 10 people need to be taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital for immediate medical care.
Holland America's Zaandam and the Rotterdam cruise ships have been out at sea, trying to find a port that would let them in.
Sarasota residents Bill and Gloria Weed, along with their friends Joan Blum and Michael Richker, set sail for a 31-day South American cruise.
They left before novel coronavirus outbreak had been declared a pandemic. But a short time into their trip, things changed.
Joan and Michael were moved to the Rotterdam ship. Bill and Gloria had to remain on the Zaadam because Bill was sick.
There was concern he would grow worse the longer officials waited to make up their minds.
Thankfully, the two ships are now being allowed to dock in Port Everglades.
"I am so relieved when I heard that everything was signed and everything was done and they were leaving the ship, they were going to get the care that they really needed, and I just cried tears of joy," Weed family friend Kathy Lewis said.
Nearly 200 people aboard the Zaandam are sick with flu-like symptoms.
Holland America found a healthcare provider that would care for those in need of critical care.
Broward Health Hospital confirmed it would take in the critically ill.
Those who are not sick will be able to go home.
Privately chartered buses and planes will take passengers back to their homes around the world.
At last check, Bill and Gloria Weed were not on land yet but they had been told to quickly pack their bags.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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