coronavirus

CDC Confirms Florida’s First 2 Cases of Coronavirus

At a news conference Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was monitoring 184 people for COVID-19

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What to Know

  • Two people in Florida are the first to test positive for coronavirus
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was monitoring 184 people for COVID-19
  • DeSantis declared a statewide public health emergency on Sunday

Dozens of people in Florida were being monitored for potential coronavirus Monday after two people became the first in the state to test positive for the virus.

Officials with the Florida Department of Health said Monday that the CDC had confirmed the two cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was monitoring 184 people for COVID-19. As on Monday, a total of 23 people have been tested in the state, including the two positive cases, 15 that came back negative, and six that were awaiting results, DeSantis said. Around 800 people in total have been monitored in the state since late January, DeSantis said.

"Despite these cases the overall immediate threat to the public remains low. With that said, we do anticipate that more will test positive and we've taken additional actions to help contain the virus' spread," DeSantis said.

Miami-Dade commissioners are expected to address concerns over possible positive tests in the future in South Florida during a Tuesday meeting.

The two cases that tested positive in state labs involve a man in his 60s in Manatee County, and a woman in her 20s in Hillsborough County. Both were in stable condition and receiving medical care while being kept in isolation until they were medically cleared.

Officials said the woman had recently returned from northern Italy, which has been among the countries hardest hit by the virus outside of Asia. The man had not been in any countries affected, and it was unknown how he may have been exposed, officials said.

After being turned away by two Caribbean ports over fears of coronavirus, the MSC Cruises ship Meraviglia returned to Miami on Monday with a clean bill of health.

"At the present time, it is not known how this individual was exposed to COVID-19," state health officer and surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, said at the news conference. "This is a rapidly evolving situation.”

He directed anyone who has traveled to any of the high-risk countries to self-isolate for 14 days and notify public health officials. Officials didn't say where the other people who had been tested were from in the state.

DeSantis met Monday morning with the chiefs of the state agencies that will be at the forefront of combating the virus, including the departments overseeing schools, prisons and elder care facilities. He was also scheduled to have a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the federal response to the widening crisis.

DeSantis declared a statewide public health emergency on Sunday, directing Rivkees, to take “any action necessary to protect the public health." Rivkees subsequently said his department was moving ahead with those plans while “working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" at the federal level and with local medical providers.

Health officials have confirmed a second coronavirus death within the United States. Washington state announced overnight that another patient with coronavirus, a man in his 70s with underlying health problems, has died. So far, at least 85 cases were confirmed within the United States since March 1, including the first cases in New York and Rhode Island.

Rivkee's own statement said the immediate steps were being taken “to ensure these individuals receive the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with them is following the necessary protocols, limiting or stopping any further spread.”

The governor designated the Florida Department of Health as the lead state agency to coordinate emergency responses and to actively monitor all those with apparent or suspected infections for a period of at least 14 days — or until tests turn up negative.

Three Florida Department of Health labs are now able to test for the new coronavirus, cutting wait times significantly for results, state officials had announced Saturday.

The Florida health officials said in an email that labs in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami can conduct the tests, which previously had to be sent to federal labs. They said that would mean results should be available 24 to 48 hours afterward — instead of within days.

“The most important thing is it will bring down the average testing time,” said Deputy Health Secretary Shamarial Roberson in a telephone interview. “It helps address this in a more efficient time.”

Florida officials had been awaiting approval for one component of the test from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Roberson said. That approval came Friday.

U.S. health officials updated the nation’s count of coronavirus cases to 91 on Monday.

For a coronavirus global tracker, click here.

For more information on coronavirus in Florida, visit Floridahealth.gov/covid-19

AP and NBC 6
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