Coronavirus

Keep your distance. And don't kiss.

Those are two pieces of advice that could be crucial in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Public health officials say the spread has been mainly driven through people spending time indoors with others who have the disease.

"Looks like the main driver is not widespread community infection — looks like it's household-level infection," Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva on Feb. 25.

During infectious disease outbreaks, public trust in the government and health agencies becomes critical. Officials need to convince millions of people that they are telling the whole truth, and that their guidance on what to do — and not do — should be followed.

How's that going as coronavirus has begun spreading in some parts of the U.S.?

Red and gray 3D model of COVID-19. Looks like a sphere with red trees on it.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking special precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus nationally as it treats a patient who tested positive for COVID-19  in Palo Alto, California.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday said the federal government will send “tens of thousands” of novel coronavirus testing kits to the state and asked people not to purchase a type of tight-fitting mask to protect themselves from the contagion.

Two studies found that those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it.
iStock

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that a fourth Florida resident has tested positive for the coronavirus but is self-quarantined in Washington state.

Updated on March 5 at 8:15 p.m. ET

President Trump is expected to sign an $8 billion emergency spending package into law Friday, responding to growing cases linked to the coronavirus illness domestically and abroad.

Visiting Olympia, Wash. on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence praised Congress' bipartisan response, and said some of the funds would be available for state and local response.

School districts in Northeast Florida are taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Jacksonville-area hospitals are taking extra precautions against the new coronavirus — though there are no confirmed cases in Northeast Florida.

On Wednesday, the CDC announced new guidelines for coronavirus testing in the U.S.: Doctors can now approve testing at their discretion and are no longer limited to recommending it for patients who’d traveled out of the country or been exposed to a known case.  

With cases of COVID-19 appearing in Florida, polling places are looking to take extra measures to protect voters during the primary elections.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said that hand sanitizer stations and sanitizing wipes will be available to the public and workers at polling stations.

Health officials say COVID-19 is spread person to person through close contact -- people who are indoors and in close proximity with others for extended periods of time.

A prominent Sarasota infectious disease doctor has placed himself in self-quarantine at home after he treated a Manatee County man with coronavirus last week, officials said Wednesday.

Mike Bowen's been a very busy man.

He's executive vice president of Texas-based Prestige Ameritech, one of the few manufacturers of respirators and surgical face masks still making them in the United States.

"I've got requests for maybe a billion and a half masks, if you add it up," he says. That's right — 1.5 billion.

Since the coronavirus started spreading in January, Bowen says he's gotten at least 100 calls and emails a day.

"Normally, I don't get any," he says.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is ordering health inspectors to focus on infection-control practices at nursing homes and hospitals, particularly those where coronavirus infections have been identified among patients or in the community, CMS administrator Seema Verma announced Wednesday.

The Florida House
Governor's Press Office

To help fund efforts to abate the spread of the coronavirus and hepatitis A, a top health-care budget writer said the Legislature may consider a “super line” in the Department of Health’s budget for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year.

empty bed in a nursing home
iStock

Long before the novel coronavirus made its surprise appearance, the nation’s nursing homes were struggling to obey basic infection prevention protocols designed to halt the spread of viruses and bacteria they battle daily.

Congressman Vern Buchanan called for more federal funding for COVID-19 and a faster process to test for the virus at a press conference at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Tuesday. 

Local hospitals are preparing for the possibility of a surge in coronavirus cases. At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, officials on Tuesday said about a dozen people are awaiting test results for coronavirus, after testing negative for flu and other common viruses that cause similar symptoms including coughing, fever and shortness of breath.

Senate President Bill Galvano says Florida legislative leadership is in talks with Governor Ron DeSantis about an emergency appropriation to fortify agencies working to combat the spread of coronavirus. Galvano didn’t give many details, but told reporters after Tuesday’s floor session the specifics are being worked out.

Jay Foreman is no stranger to China and the global supply chain. He runs Basic Fun, based in Boca Raton. It imports toys like My Little Pony Classic and Pound Puppies from China. A dozen Basic Fun employees work in China and 65 work in Hong Kong.

Florida is now trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19 the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
 
The CDC confirmed Monday two positive cases in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis directed the surgeon general to declare a public health emergency. 
 

WLRN's Alexander Gonzalez got the latest from Health News Florida editor Julio Ochoa.

When it comes to the spiraling global coronavirus outbreak, scientists are still trying to pin down the answer to a basic question: How deadly is this virus?

Estimates have varied widely. For instance, at a Feb. 24 news conference in Beijing, a top Chinese health official, Liang Wannian, said the fatality rate for COVID-19 was quite high.

"Between 3 to 4% of patients have died," said Liang.

Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees this week recommended Florida nursing homes restrict visitation to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

A second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 has been reported in Hillsborough County, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to three.

Red and gray 3D model of COVID-19. Looks like a sphere with red trees on it.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

AARP Florida on Monday urged the state to provide “adequate supplies of protective wear” to ensure employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities remain safe and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

One of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Tampa Bay area is a patient who has no recent history of travel. 

The man is in his 60s, and is a resident of Manatee County. His name has not been released.

After two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, governmental agencies, universities, and private companies are stepping up their response.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

On the heels of a meeting with President Trump and pharmaceutical company leaders, Vice President Pence offered words of calm to the American public about the spread of coronavirus: "The risk remains low," he repeated numerous times during a news conference with reporters on Monday afternoon.

Pence, who on Friday was appointed by the president to lead the Coronavirus Task Force, delivered the remarks from the White House press briefing room, where he was surrounded by many of the nation's top health officials.

Updated Wednesday at 4:20 p.m. ET

After a slow initial roll-out, test kits for the new coronavirus are now becoming more widely available in the United States. That means a big surge in testing is coming — one that will likely cause a significant increase in identified cases of the COVID-19 illness.

Here are some things to know about the tests.

What is the current availability of coronavirus testing?

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