Jacksonville cruise ship cleared to sail after illness concern

Mayor: “We are taking every precaution”

File photo. The Carnival Ecstacy cruise ship has been cleared to sail after a staff member exhibited flu-like symptoms.
File photo. The Carnival Ecstacy cruise ship has been cleared to sail after a staff member exhibited flu-like symptoms.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Saturday afternoon viewers began sending tips into the newsroom about a cruise ship docked in Jacksonville that had a staff member exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Amid the growing concern for the spread of coronavirus in the United States, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took to twitter to inform the public about the situation.

“This afternoon at 3:30 p.m., my staff and I were briefed that the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) had been called to the JaxPort Cruise Terminal to respond to a sick crew member. The call to first responders came after approximately 2,500 passengers had disembarked. The crew member has been transported to UF Health and is being assessed. Currently, we don’t know the cause of illness, but we are taking every precaution until we know more,” Mayor Curry said.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, Jimmy Patronis retweeted pledging the full support of the State Fire Marshal’s Office for any necessary assistance.

News4Jax crews also followed up with Carnival Cruise Lines. The company issued a statement assuring that the staff member’s condition was not linked to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

“Carnival Ecstasy took a slight delay departing Jacksonville Saturday afternoon after a miscommunication with local authorities. We were trying to get a crew member to a shoreside hospital for rather routine medical observation and this was not a suspected COVID-19 case as the crew member had not visited any regions with COVID-19 spread in the past 14 days. The ship has since been cleared to sail and it will proceed on its itinerary as planned,” Vance Gulliksen, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines, said.

In an update, Mayor Curry clarified that the patient’s travel history contributed to the response, and that the person was no longer being evaluated for coronavirus. He also thanked Jacksonville first responders and UF Health personnel for their readiness efforts.

As of Saturday, the director of communications for Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced Florida Department of Health labs are now able to test people for the coronavirus. That includes labs in Jacksonville.