Rep. Chip LaMarca (R – Lighthouse Point) released the following statement after a press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday morning in Miami Gardens. Gov. DeSantis has been quoted saying that he thinks it would be a mistake to bring more sick people into south Florida, especially to Broward given what we are dealing with right now.
“While I agree with Commissioner Udine that this ship needs a plan to treat sick passengers, Port Everglades should not be the only solution offered. There are a multitude of other options that should be in their playbook, from nearby U.S. Naval Ports to seaports in much less populated communities. Holland America made the reckless decision to begin their voyage knowing that we were in a global pandemic. Company leaders recently took to writing an op-ed in our local newspaper claiming that the pandemic got worse after they set sail. Then why not end the cruise at the next port of call in early March? This failure of leadership could spread the virus to our first responders and port personnel still operating essential functions at Port Everglades, and inevitably to others in our county and state.”
“After my discussions with members of the Unified Command at Port Everglades (Port and BSO leadership), I do not believe that Holland America’s vessels should be granted access to any American port until we have clear and accurate information.”
“Today the Broward County Commission is planning to discuss the important decision on whether or not to allow Holland America’s MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam to dock at Port Everglades. As a county with more than 1,100 cases of COVID-19, I urge the Commission to vote no. I agree with Gov. Ron DeSantis that medical care should be sent out to the ship. I’m all in to help get this done with whatever assets are needed to make this happen. We need to find a solution that works best for the residents of Florida and the people aboard the ship.”
“For more than a year, Broward County has failed to appoint a permanent director at Port Everglades. During a time when ports are incredibly important yet vulnerable, this indecision has become a major disadvantage. Having worked with the leaders at Port Everglades for eight years as a commissioner, I believe strongly in the individual leadership in place. Unfortunately, Port Everglades has not been given the affirmation necessary to have a permanent leadership structure.”
As of yesterday afternoon, four people have died on the cruise ship. Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 and approaching 200 people (73 guests and 116 crew) who are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Zaandam and its sister ship, the Rotterdam, are both on their way to Port Everglades and have cleared the Panama Canal early yesterday morning. The estimated arrival time of the vessel is April 1, 2020 at 23:00 hours.