How Broward County is Preparing for Coronavirus

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With nine cases of COVID-19 currently tied to Florida residents, Broward officials held a press conference Friday to address coronavirus concerns across the county.

“The risk to Broward County residents remains low, but public interest and concern is high,” Mayor Dale Holness said.

Officials with the Florida Department of Health, the Broward County School Board, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and other agencies were present during the conference to speak about the virus’ impact on schools, airports, the police force and cruise industry.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Broward County, although people are being monitored. Health officials did not say how many.

As of Friday, there were no plans to cancel school or any public events. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is remaining fully operational, as Holness urged residents to remain calm and cautious.

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Dr. Paula Thaqi, with the department of health, said anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 – especially those who have recently traveled to China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan – should “immediately self-isolate.”

Thaqi added that any Broward resident who believes they’ve contracted coronavirus should call their doctor and the Broward County COVID-19 Call Center at 954-412-7300 before going to see their health care provider.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to the World Health Organization. The virus can be spread through person-to-person contact, or respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“Should it be necessary, we are prepared to investigate any cases, trace contacts and take any containment measures that are required,” Thaqi said.

Holness emphasized that Broward County is taking precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, reminding residents to wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitizer when necessary.

Donna Korn, Broward County School Board member, echoed the sentiment when discussing how the school system is taking precautions against the virus.

“We are conducting extra cleaning at high frequency contact areas with germicidal disinfectant, including our restrooms, doorknobs and doors, countertops, drinking fountains, and sinks,” she said.

The school board will not approve any out-of-country school trips, but there is currently no restriction on travel within the United States, Korn said.

Sheriff Gregory Tony addressed scam artists using coronavirus as a way to make financial gains, specifically targeting the elderly population with false that a cure for COVID-19 exists.

“There has been no indication or anything produced from the CDC or any other medical body or professional organization that suggests that a cure exists,” Tony said, adding that opportunists are spreading scams through social media and other internet channels.

Firefighters, police officers and other law enforcement officials are “cautiously aware” of the coronavirus impact, Tony said.

Cruise lines are requiring all passengers to complete a declaration form before being allowed to board a cruise, Holness said. Passengers originating from other locations will be required to undergo mandatory health screenings.  

“This virus is teaching us that humans are interconnected, no matter where we are in the world,” Holness said. “As such, it takes a collaborative effort to deal with issues similar to these that affect us as humans.”

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