By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Six Minnesotans aboard two Holland America cruise ships are waiting for permission to dock in south Florida.

Ely residents Val Myntti and Frank Sherman were on a dream cruise around South America. Now, they’re among hundreds quarantined aboard Holland America’s MS Zaandam, which is expected to dock on Thursday.

“There are very sick people on this boat coming from 40 different countries that require medical attention,” said Myntti.

On March 16, passengers including Myntti and Sherman started having flu symptoms. Nine aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19. It’s unclear if that led to the deaths of four others.

“My husband has a cough, I have a fever but we are not in respiratory distress,” said Myntti.

Healthy passengers were transferred to sister ship Rotterdam. Both are now heading back to south Florida.

However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want the ships to dock.

“We think it’s a mistake to be putting people into southern Florida right now, given what we’re dealing with,” said  DeSantis. “A lot of these are foreign nationals and we wanna make sure we have beds available for the folks in southern Florida.”

Leaders are split on what to do with the passengers. They prefer bringing medical treatment aboard, not allowing the sick to come ashore.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is pushing for a decision – to both treat the sick and allow safe passage for the healthy.

“We want to make sure safety precautions are taken but that Florida authorities allow them to disembark so they can get the healthcare attention they need,” she said.

Myntti wants to get home but understands Florida’s concerns. In the meantime, Holland American just wants a port willing to bring care to the sick.

Bill Hudson

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