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Florida Announces More Coronavirus Cases While Sen. Scott Questions State's Response

Gov. DeSantis briefed the media about COVID-19 at the Collier County Health Department Friday.
Julie Glenn
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A day after announcing the first two deaths on the East Coast attributed to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to activate to Level 2.

Saturday’s order ensures the state has all the necessary resources engaged to respond to the outbreak, according to DeSantis.

“It is critical that we proactively coordinate all state resources to mitigate the threat and contain COVID-19,” said DeSantis. “I urge all Floridians to take necessary precautions and follow hygiene guidelines issued by the Surgeon General and Florida Department of Health.”

DeSantis’ office and the Florida Department of Health announced the deaths Friday.

Both individuals were in their 70s and had traveled overseas. One was a man in Santa Rosa County who reportedly had underlying health conditions. The other was an elderly person in the Fort Myers area in Lee County. That case was not confirmed until after the person had died.

State officials have not said where the two had traveled or if officials are trying to determine who they’ve had contact with.

The announcement raises the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus strain to 16, including 13 in the state of Washington and one in California.

RELATED: WUSF's Coverage Of COVID-19 And Coronavirus

The state health department also announced Saturday that a presumptive positive case was confirmed in Lee County. Officials said on Twitter the individual was being treated in isolation. No other details were disclosed.

As of Saturday morning, the Florida Department of Health said seven Florida residents and one non-Florida resident had tested positive for COVID-19.

Five other residents who had been traveling in China have been quarantined elsewhere after testing positive.

Another 100 people have tested negative and 88 have test results pending.

The state is currently monitoring 278 people, with 1,010 monitored to date.

READ MORE: What The Florida Department of Health's Coronavirus Hotline Is Telling Callers

Appearing in Collier County Friday, DeSantis asked state lawmakers for $25 million to use immediately in the state’s response.

That comes in addition to at least $27 million he expects the state to receive from the federal government. The state should also get $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to immediately cover related costs.

“Lab supplies, person protective equipment, additional personnel in case of a surge of cases,” said DeSantis. “And also additional communications to the general public, as well as our health care providers.”

But on Twitter and Fox News Saturday, Florida Republican U.S. Senator and former Gov. Rick Scott expressed concern about the state’s failure to disclose the Lee County case until after the person had died.

The people have the right to know and be given the most up to date information as possible regarding any presumptive or confirmed cases. This is vital for the public health & safety of all Floridians.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) March 7, 2020

There was no immediate response from the Department of Health or DeSantis, who is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale.

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Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.