FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to visit a testing site at Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida on Monday morning as the state’s confirmed coronavirus caseload approaches 5,000. Many residents spent their first weekend under “Safer at Home” orders.
The number of confirmed cases in Florida jumped by 912 cases on Sunday after passing the 4,000 case mark on Saturday, the largest single-day jump. Nearly half of these people are in the hotspot of Miami-Dade and Broward, the state’s most populous counties.
Teachers and students across Florida, which has some of the largest school districts in the country, were set to begin virtual schooling on Monday after spring break ended in many areas of the state.
On Sunday night, Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford said in a YouTube message to guests on the Zandaam that the cruise line received permission to pass through the Panama Canal on its way to Florida. Four people on the ship have died of coronavirus, and more than 130 passengers and crew have symptoms, officials said. Four doctors and four nurses are on board to treat 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members, the company said.
The cruise line, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., sent a second ship, the Rotterdam, to house passengers who don’t have symptoms. Ashford said in the video that both ships plan to sail toward Fort Lauderdale.
The Zandaam left Argentina on March 7.
Broward County officials are debating whether to let the ship dock at its Port Everglades.
In a statement sent Sunday afternoon, Port Everglades officials said it would take about three days for the ship to reach South Florida once it passes through the Panama Canal. Holland American must then submit a plan prior to arrival that addresses a long list of requirements for entry into the port.
In a telephone town hall Sunday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district includes parts of Broward County, said the ship should not be allowed to dock and have passengers disembark with no more than instructions to self-quarantine.
“It’s not safe for them; it’s not safe for our communities,” he said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death. The vast majority of people recover, but a surge of cases needing hospital support could overwhelm the health care system’s capacity.