Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency as Florida battles an outbreak of the new coronavirus that has already killed two people. The governor also appealed for calm, even as he took that step Monday.
DeSantis spoke at a news conference at the state Capitol and reminded Floridians to take common-sense precautions.
He stressed that normally healthy individuals remain at low-risk of contracting the virus.
And he urged those with underlying health conditions, as well as the elderly, to avoid cruise ships and long-haul flights.
The emergency declaration will more easily allow the state to marshal resources and get outside aid.
"The reason why we're doing that, is that allows us to create a unified command structure," said DeSantis. "It also allows, if need be, out-of-state medical personnel to operate in Florida, it allows us to more swiftly purchase any necessary supplies, including masks and materials and equipment necessary to set up field hospitals."
Two people have already died in Florida. They are among 18 residents state health officials say tested positive for the virus, which is now spreading across the United States and other parts of the world.
Of the 18 Floridians who tested positive, 12 were diagnosed in the state and five were diagnosed in another state, according to the Health Department. In addition, a California resident, now under self-isolation in Florida, has tested positive.
READ MORE: Coronavirus Coverage on WUSF
DeSantis said he believes the state will receive $27 million in federal funding to help fight the spread of the virus. The funding will come from an $8.3 billion bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday. In addition, the Florida Legislature agreed over the weekend to spend $25 million on the effort.
And, DeSantis said, two laboratory companies - Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp - are ready to start processing coronavirus test kits. They'll be joined soon by other private laboratories.
Some information in this story is courtesy News Service of Florida