coronavirus

No Florida Coronavirus Cases, But State ‘Carefully Monitoring’: Gov. DeSantis

As of Thursday, no confirmed cases of the virus have been detected in Florida, while 60 have been confirmed in the United States

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida, but state officials are "carefully monitoring" the situation and are ready to respond to any possible outbreak.

At a news conference Thursday, DeSantis said Florida officials are preparing and monitoring the situation along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health.

"The State of Florida is fully committed, doing everything we can to prepare and respond for coronavirus," DeSantis said.

While there were no confirmed cases of the virus in Florida, 60 have been confirmed in the United States, according to the CDC. More than 80,000 people have been infected by the virus globally.

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced the district's plan if coronavirus were detected in the area that includes schools taking advantage of digital or "tele-education" classes as a last resort if a school has to be closed.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, state surgeon general Dr. Scott Rivkees give an update on coronavirus on Feb. 27, 2020.

Education of the disease will ramp up on school grounds, and electronic services that will connect school clinics with doctors for instant information are being installed.

Carvalho also said, if necessary, alternate dismissal times will be implemented, while increasing school cleaning cycles.

Officials from Miami-Dade held a Thursday afternoon news conference to discuss coronavirus preparations in the county.

"This county is ready to face a number of situations, this county faces emergency situations almost every year called hurricanes, so we're very good at preparing for things that are not the norm," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. "This though is a little bit different, this is a virus, this is something that frankly in my time as mayor I haven't faced, outside of the zika issue."

When asked for numbers on how many people have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida, state and county health officials cited privacy laws.

South Florida's cruise industry is starting to be affected by coronavirus concerns after a ship that left Miami ran into trouble in the Caribbean due to a sick crewmember. NBC 6 anchor Carlos Suarez reports.

“Based on Florida statute this is something confidential. The only thing I can share with you is that if we happen to get a case, everybody will know," said Reynald Jean, director of disease control at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade.

Gimenez said the CDC is sending testing samples from Miami-Dade to Tallahassee, which can delay the process for results. He also said the health department received incomplete kits in the county, and they are waiting on the remainder of the kits in two to three weeks.

"We should have kits, let’s put it that way," Gimenez said. "And we’re gonna get kits. And I’m not crazy that it takes two days to get the results back when in fact you can have it back in five or six hours."

Miami International Airport officials said they are not providing screenings for the coronavirus for anyone who is not arriving from China and said Americans flying to the U.S. from China will be re-routed to a select group of airports.

South Florida is home to two of the three busiest ports in the United States - nearly 6 million passengers set sail from Port Miami in the past year aboard more than 1,200 cruise ships that docked there.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district is preparing for any possible local impacts from coronavirus and has a plan in place to contain the spread of the virus.

Florida Rep. Chip LaMarca, whose District 93 includes Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, said cruise lines are taking extra precautions to keep passengers safe, and said cruise lines haven't seen a drop or cancellations for ships leaving Florida ports.

Travel agents also ensured cruise lines are being proactive by screening passengers of any sickness or fever, checking passports and cleaning ships.

For more information on Florida coronavirus preparations, visit Floridahealth.gov/COVID-19

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