U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is calling for an investigation into how a passenger on the Coral Princess died Saturday night after waiting hours to be transported to the hospital.
Wilson Maa, 71, died at Larkin Community Hospital in Hialeah after succumbing to complications from the novel coronavirus, according to the Miami Herald. Maa waited around five hours before an ambulance picked him up from the cruise ship. While still on the ship, docked at Port Miami, his symptoms turned serious hours after five other passengers were hospitalized.
“My heart breaks for the Maa Family, and I offer them my deepest condolences,” Mucarsel-Powell, a Miami Democrat, said in a statement. “It’s devastating and exasperating that we will never know if Mr. Maa’s death could have been prevented with a swift and urgent medical response that this situation deserved.”
The Herald reported that Miami-Dade County hospitals had 150 adult ICU beds available at 7:30 p.m. after Maa’s case worsened around 5 p.m. And Larkin Community Hospital, which had taken two Coral Princess passengers earlier in the day, had 11 beds open.
But Maa’s family said the ship’s doctor relayed that no hospital beds with ventilators were available and that ambulances were on lockdown despite being an essential service.
“I have been on numerous conference calls with state and local authorities assuring me that South Florida’s health care system currently has enough capacity to treat COVID-19 patients — if that’s not the case, then the public must be made aware immediately,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “Families and individuals should not be abandoned during medical emergencies or left pleading for help.”
Coral Princess, owned by Carnival Corp., was the third cruise ship to land in two days in Florida after the Zaandam and Rotterdam docked in Port Everglades to let get ill passengers to medical care. Gov. Ron DeSantis had initially resisted letting passengers disembark the cruise liners in the state, instead suggesting the ill be treated on the ship.
“We would like to have medical personnel simply dispatched to that ship — and the cruise lines can hopefully arrange for that — [and] tend to folks who may need medical attention,” he said Monday. “But I think a lot of these are foreign nationals. And we want to make sure we have the beds available for the folks here in Southern Florida.”
Maa’s wife, Toyling Maa, was still on the cruise ship, also suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.