Gov. DeSantis Details Positive Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, Says Floridians' Risk Remains 'Low'

Mar 2, 2020
Originally published on March 3, 2020 7:21 am

While the coronavirus risk remains “low” for Floridians, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state is currently monitoring 184 people to see if they have contracted the illness while providing details on the state’s first two confirmed positive cases.

During a news conference in Tampa on Monday, DeSantis said 23 people have been tested in the state, while 795 have been monitored overall.

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DeSantis offered details on the two  positive cases in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, which were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday afternoon.

The patient in Hillsborough County is a female in her 20s who recently returned from a trip to northern Italy, DeSantis said. She is in stable condition.

The patient in Manatee County is a male in his 60s, DeSantis said. It is not known how he contracted the virus.

Both remain in isolation, he said.

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While there have been only two confirmed cases, DeSantis – who issued a public health emergency on Sunday – warned more positive cases were likely.

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

DeSantis said the Department of Health is now able to test for coronavirus in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami, with results available within 24-48 hours. Previously, the CDC conducted tests, which he said take five days to process.

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Florida Surgeon General Dr. Rivkees said 80% of people who contract this coronavirus illness will have a mild case and can be observed and treated at home. 15% may have a more severe case requiring hospitalization. Up to 5% causes could be especially severe, especially with the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems, obesity and diabetes.

The governor said the state is taking a hands-on approach to suspected cases.

"That involves personal visits,  that involves checking people's temperatures," DeSantis said.  "And so they've (Department of Health officials) been very diligent about this. And then obviously, with these cases, they proactively have been contacting the people who may have had interactions with the patients."

State officials have an incident management team in place, are "working in lockstep with the CDC" to receive multiple updates daily, and have engaged the medical community through correspondence and weekly calls.

Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota put out a letter to their patients Sunday warning that a patient was being treated for the disease.

The state's notification went out Sunday night - fully one day after health officials were aware of the situation. Rivkees said that's because they have to send out samples to the CDC and were still waiting for the results, but they decided to inform the public.

“As soon as we became aware that this individual had COVID-19, measures were put in place in terms of containment and launching an evaluation of individuals,” Rivkees said.

DeSantis said he hopes additional funding for health care providers will be coming from both the state legislature and Congress.