Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees addressed Floridians at a press conference Monday morning about coronavirus, or more specifically, the COVID-19 strain that is spreading across the world from its origins in China.
Here are some fact points, updated over the course of Monday:
- There are two “presumptive positive” cases in Florida: a man in his 60s in Manatee County who the Department of Health is working with to established how he got it, and a woman in her 20s in the Tampa area who returned from travel in northern Italy, a confirmed outbreak site. Both are stable and in isolation care in their homes. There are eight other pending results from the CDC, 15 have returned negative, 184 people are under current health monitoring, and 795 others have been monitored.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever over 100.4 degrees, cough and/or shortness of breath. It spreads like the flu, and 80 percent of cases will be mild that can be treated at home. The other 20 percent make require hospitalization.
- The elderly, those with diabetes, heart conditions or existing acute respiratory issues are most at risk for developing the virus.
- At this time there are no vaccines or medications.
- The CDC recommends travelers avoid nonessential travel to China. Anyone planning overseas travel should refer to the CDC website, which identifies places of concern in the world. If you’ve returned from China, South Korea, northern Italy or Iran, the CDC asks you self-isolate yourself for 14 days.
- Nursing homes should be screening all visitors for signs of being ill. College and universities should be referring to CDC guidelines, as they are large gathering areas for students who could have been traveling.
The Florida Department of Health has loaded up their website with information and updates on cases and preventive measures, stating Florida is, “poised and prepared to respond.” The state has also set up a COVID-19 hotline, 866-779-6121, manned Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vianca McCluskey, Osceola County’s Florida Department of Health administrator, addressed the Osceola County Commission Monday and re-iterated what state and federal leaders have been saying: the risk right now to the general public is “very low” — Rivkees told everyone at the state press conference to “go about your normal business” — but, echoing DeSantis, there will likely be more positive tests in Florida.
“To best protect yourself, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick, stay home if you are ill, wash your hands frequently with soap and water and don’t touch your eyes or mouth without first washing your hands,” Rivkees said. “Preparing for this is what preventive care is all about.”
Those who are suspected of having the COVID-19 virus will have oral and nasal specimens taken. Continued following will only occur if the specimens return as presumptive positive.