Coronavirus In Florida: How Schools, Airports And Other Public Spaces Are Dealing With It
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive orderhas placed the Florida Department of Health as the lead agency in the state’s response. The department can order quarantines, isolations and any other public health interventions.
READ MORE: Coronavirus Coverage On WUSF
Les Miller, Chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, does not want people to be scared, but instead aware that the situation is serious.
“We're letting people know exactly what we're doing,” said Miller. “We're putting out information on our website (and social media).”
Miller is encouraging Hillsborough County residents to sign up for alerts on coronavirus.
The City of Tampa is offering similar updates to people's cellphones, by texting TAMPAREADY or TAMPALISTA to 888-777.
(1/2) CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Mayor @JaneCastor is in constant contact with @HealthyFla, @FlyTPA, & @PortTampaBay to monitor the spread of #Coronavirus in FL. Get updates directly to your phone by texting TAMPAREADY or TAMPALISTA to 888-777. More info: https://t.co/aZrzUGCBCP pic.twitter.com/EaEtQdUPBv— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) March 2, 2020
Instead, officials are encouraging those who feel sick to not come to school and are asking teachers to have options available for remote and online learning.
The Florida Board of Governors has asked state universities, including the University of South Florida, to cancel all university-sponsored travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Additionally, all faculty, employees, and students who have traveled to these countries are being asked to return home and self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days.
USF's spring break will start in two weeks; university officials are asking anyone planning to travel to heed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warnings.
“[Individuals that travel abroad] may face unpredictable circumstances, travel restrictions, challenges returning home, or accessing health care while abroad,” said the agency.
USF leadership indicates they will release more detailed guidelines regarding spring break and Education Abroad programming in the coming days.
Sen. Rick Scott is continuing to petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to increase screenings at Florida’s international airports. He’s also asking countries with their first cases of COVID-19 to conduct screenings of ongoing passengers.
Finally, Scott wants the CDC to launch a 24/7 phone hotline for citizens to call with questions about the virus.
My top priority is the health of Floridians.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) March 2, 2020
I’m calling on @DHSgov to immediately increase screening at every one of Florida’s int’l airports. We must also work with the newly-infected countries to make sure they are conducting proper screenings of outgoing passengers. pic.twitter.com/xHbaewH3hn
Tampa International Airportreleased a statement on Twitter Monday, saying they're watching the situation.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Port Tampa Bay officials said, since cargo vessels take 30 days or more to travel from China to Tampa, that puts them outside the 14-day timeframe for someone to show symptoms of infection.
“The screening process has been smooth and wait times have not been impacted. Port Tampa Bay cruise and cargo operations will continue, as usual,” port spokeswoman Lisa Wolf-Chason told the Times.
The Cruise Lines International Association, which represents the global cruise line industry, released an order telling its members to deny boarding to anyone that has visited or travelled through or from Iran, South Korea, and China within 14 days before embarkation.
The same rule applies to people who have cared for or interacted with anyone suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 or are subject to health monitoring from exposure. They’re also telling members to conduct pre-boarding screening and enhanced screenings with medical support if someone exhibits symptoms of the virus.
In general, most officials are urging people to take simple precautions to protect themselves.
As we learn more about #COVID19, residents should follow the same steps taken during cold and flu season shared below.— Hillsborough County (@HillsboroughFL) March 2, 2020
For the latest information, you can visit the https://t.co/HvuO0TLlrX and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Follow @CDCgov & @HealthyFla for up-to-date info. pic.twitter.com/Hdvfthv9Rw
“Just be ever mindful of your surroundings...be ever mindful that you can protect yourself by just doing simple things,” said Miller. “Wash your hands constantly, keep your hands out of your face, don't touch your face all the time, if you're not feeling well, please go to the doctor.
“And if this is a situation where you just had the flu or common cold, just stay home, don't put yourself as to possibly getting something worse.”