Rep. Chip LaMarca, a Lighthouse Point Republican, is releasing a statement Tuesday urging officials to turn away a cruise ship with dozens of sick passengers seeking to dock in Florida.
LaMarca is concerned with the possibility a Holland America ship may dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. That would see the passengers disembarking in Broward County, one of the two hardest-hit counties by the COVID-19 virus in the state.
The ship has identified 42 passengers — 29 of whom are crew members — experiencing “flu-like symptoms.” No tests for the novel coronavirus are available on the ship, so it is unclear whether those symptoms are caused by the flu or the COVID-19 virus.
“While I have been and will continue to be a major supporter of our ports and the cruise industry, we cannot allow this ship to dock in a county that continues to be one of the top communities for COVID-19 cases,” LaMarca said in a statement Tuesday.
“I urge all the key decision makers on this issue to stop this ship from docking at Port Everglades.”
Broward County Commissioners Mark Bogen and Michael Udine have also said they oppose the ship docking in Fort Lauderdale.
In February, LaMarca spoke out about the potential impact of the virus’s spread on the port and Florida’s cruise ship industry at large.
Port Everglades has been linked to multiple COVID-19 cases inside the county. LaMarca says he does not want to add to that total by allowing the Holland America ship to dock.
“Since February, I’ve been working with ports across the state to ensure they had increased cleaning protocols and were taking every precaution to protect employees, visitors, and our residents,” LaMarca said.
“Our ports are also part of the very important supply chain that includes logistics companies like rail and trucking. We would not only put residents and employees in danger, but possibly disrupt these vital industries that connect resources across the state. I’m calling on Unified Command leaders to protect our workers, residents, and the entire community by taking immediate action.”
As of a Tuesday morning update, Broward had 311 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, second only to Miami-Dade’s 338 cases.