Florida state health officials reported Thursday evening that the confirmed COVID-19 total case count has reached 9,008, including 144 deaths.
Dade (2886), Broward (1481), Palm Beach (737), Orange (541) and Hillsborough (404) counties have reported the most to date.
Of the nearly 8700 confirmed cases reported in Florida residents, 1167 have required hospitalization at some point during their illness.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that after consultation with President Trump, the US Coast Guard and Broward County officials, the Zaandam and Rotterdam cruise ships have docked in Port Everglades. Nonresidents will be safely transported back to their home state or country.
Holland America extended their gratitude to President Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Port Everglades Unified Command, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry and all governmental and embassy authorities who helped to resolve this situation and get our nearly 1,200 guests home. And a special thank you to Broward County Mayor Dale Holness for his leadership, help and understanding.
“These travelers could have been any one of us or our families, unexpectedly caught in the middle of this unprecedented closure of global borders that happened in a matter of days and without warning,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We are so happy to be able to get our guests home and assist those few who need additional medical services. The COVID-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our shared humanity, and we must do everything we can to ensure we continue to act in ways consistent with our common human dignity.
“Our guests on board both ships have been truly incredible, and we extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to all of them,” continued Ashford. “Their cooperation, support and understanding throughout this entire experience helped us best protect the health of all on board and ensured our shipboard teams could focus on caring for everyone and getting them home.
“I would also like to extend my sincerest thanks to the amazing officers and crews of Zaandam and Rotterdam,” continued Ashford. “They are heroes who rose to the challenge of taking care of our guests and each other under extraordinary circumstances. All of us at Holland America Line are so very proud of our colleagues for their exemplary leadership and service.”
Following arrival in Port Everglades, guests will be health screened and also cleared for entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Disembarkation is expected to be completed by tomorrow evening, with priority given today to those who need immediate care at local health system partners who have approved their arrival.
Fit-to-travel guests will transfer straight from ship onto buses for transfer directly to the airport for their flights home. The majority will leave on charter flights. Local Florida residents will return home immediately via private car. Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22.
Guests who still have symptoms will remain on board and disembark at a later date to be finalized after they have fully recovered and meet the CDC guidelines for being fit to travel. They will continue to be well cared for on board by the ships’ medical staffs.
No crew from either ship will disembark in Fort Lauderdale.
Since March 22, 107 guests (90 on Zaandam/17 on Rotterdam) and 143 crew on Zaandam (0 on Rotterdam) have presented with influenza-like symptoms.
There are 808 guests and 583 crew on Rotterdam. On Zaandam there are 442 guests and 603 crew. Among the guests, 311 guests are American citizens and 52 are residents of Florida.