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State officials announced two “presumptive positive” cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency Sunday.
The reported cases were in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, the Florida Department of Health said in a press release. A presumptive positive case means that the patient has tested positive by a public health laboratory and is pending confirmatory testing at the CDC.
“Both individuals remain in isolation at this time,” the Florida Department of Health said.
Around the state, officials are making plans ahead of a possible coronavirus outbreak.
Breathing masks in short supply at some stores amid coronavirus concerns
As concerns about the coronavirus grow nationwide, and with two presumptive positive cases in Florida, some local medical supply businesses Monday reported high demand for surgical breathing masks — which the U.S. surgeon general warned aren’t effective in preventing the public from catching the virus.
“Their comment is, ‘It’s better than nothing,’” said Tami Brown, medical supply manager at Butterfield’s Pharmacy and Medical Supplies in St. Lucie West. “That’s what 95% of the people say.”
She said the uptick in demand started last week, and that she’s up front with customers in saying the masks likely won’t protect them from coronavirus.
The U.S. surgeon general warned people to “stop buying masks” to prevent catching the coronavirus.
Southwest Florida hospitals say they are prepared to treat coronavirus
Southwest Florida hospitals have been preparing for coronavirus for weeks and are ready to respond and isolate patients if there are cases in the region.
The publicly-operated Lee Health has had testing done for one patient through the state Department of Health and it was negative for COVID-19, according to Dr. Alex Daneshmand, chief quality and patient safety officer.
The negative test result from the state came back within 24 hours, he said.
Another nine patients were screened for COVID-19 based on protocols set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection and they did not require testing, according to Lee Health spokesman Jonathon Little.
Ebola preparations gave area hospitals ‘jump start’ for new virus
Hospitals should be readily prepared for potential cases of the coronavirus disease, given the number of other infectious-disease scares that have arisen in the United States over the past 20 years or so, according to a Mayo Clinic expert.
There was SARS in 2003, followed by the Avian flu, MRSA infection and, in 2014, Ebola, among others.
“There is no excuse,” said Greg Poland, Rochester-Mn.-based director of Mayo’s Vaccine Research Group, which studies the challenges posed by infectious diseases and bioterrorism through clinical, laboratory and epidemiologic vaccine research. “How many more do you need?”
Companies see stock prices fall on coronavirus fears
The effects of the coronavirus are already being felt in Daytona Beach — not by area residents but by this city’s four locally based public companies.
Brown & Brown Inc.’s stock price closed Friday at $43.01 a share, down 11.2% since the stock market decline began on Feb. 20 on growing concerns that the contagion is spreading globally.
Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. shares closed at $57.51, down 7.7% over the past seven Wall Street trading days.
Alpine Income Property Trust Inc., Daytona Beach’s newest locally based public company, saw its stock price close at $18.40, down 5.5% since Feb. 20.
The biggest decliner among local stocks was TopBuild Corp.
The national seller and installer of insulation and other building materials saw its stock price close on Friday at $101.00, down a whopping 18.17% since Feb. 20.
43 UF students, faculty returning from Italy quarantined
A University of Florida study abroad program in Italy was cut short last week amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus, so 43 students and faculty members will be quarantined upon their return to Gainesville.
Steve Orlando, UF spokesman, confirmed Monday that the university’s architecture program in the northeast city of Vicenza was shut down last week, and the 41 students and two faculty members are returning to the United States in phases.
No one in the group has shown virus symptoms, which include fever and shortness of breath. The quarantine is voluntary, he said.
Florida officials waited 24 hours to inform public of coronavirus cases
Facing questions about why his administration waited 24 hours to inform Floridians about a positive coronavirus test, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the state’s response to the public health scare during a press conference in Tampa on Monday.
“I think from the beginning the Department of Health in Florida has been very proactive,” DeSantis said, intervening as members of the media grilled his surgeon general.
But the way the first Florida cases of coronavirus spilled into public view may not inspire confidence that the state is on top of the health scare, with state officials learning Saturday of at least one positive test but waited until late Sunday to inform the public.
Two under quarantine at Sarasota Military Academy
A mother and son from Sarasota Military Academy have been quarantined after coming into contact with a patient who tested positive for coronavirus at Doctors Hospital, the school reports.
They are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 but came in contact with the patient, the school says.
The mother came into contact with the patient in her “professional roles,” according to a post on the Sarasota Military Academy’s official Facebook page. Coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.
In the know: Coronavirus advice and information
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