A cruise ship carrying at least a dozen people who have tested positive for coronavirus began to disembark Sunday after docking at Port Miami on Saturday. Officials said the process of getting everyone off-board would take several days.
According to Miami-Dade County, six passengers were transported to hospitals across Florida on Saturday. Two passengers in critical condition were taken to Larkin Hospital in Hialeah, and three others were taken to a Tampa area hospital.
A sixth passenger, the county says, was taken to another Hialeah hospital where they later died due to complications with the virus.
On Sunday, officials say eight more passengers were transported to local hospitals. Their conditions were not made public.
Princess Cruises - owners of the Coral Princess cruise ship - says only passengers with chartered flights arranged by Princess Cruises to California, Australia and the United Kingdom would be allowed to disembark on Sunday.
Officials say the decision came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their policy for "post-disembarkation" travel.
According to the CDC, it is recommended that no passengers disembarking cruises travel via commercial flights, or share transportation with "non-cruise" guests.
The Coral Princess had been expected to arrive at Port Everglades but was refused permission to dock by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The ship has more than 1,000 passengers who have been isolating in their cabins, including 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board. Princess Cruises also confirmed two guests had died on board.
"All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to report that two guests passed away on Coral Princess," the company said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to their family, friends, and all who are impacted by this loss. All of us at Princess Cruises offer our sincere condolences."
Wilson Maa of San Francisco was one of the deceased passengers. His wife, Toyling Maa, is currently still on the ship.
The Maa family confirmed Wilson was the passenger who died at the Hialeah hospital Saturday night.
"We truly appreciate the extraordinary measures that friends and family graciously offered to help my parents get home safely. Yesterday, we were able to get Wilson off the cruise ship and to a hospital but his body was unable to fight the virus," the Maa family said in a statement.
In a press release Saturday, officials said guests requiring shoreside medical care would be prioritized to disembark first.
Those with any respiratory symptoms, or who are still recovering from being ill previously, will remain on board until medically cleared by the ship’s doctors.