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Coronavirus

News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

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FROM THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH:

If you think you might have coronavirus, call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov

A basket filled with Starbucks cups
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Starbucks customers – at least for the time being – will no longer be allowed to use personal cups, as the company seeks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 11 people, after officials reported fatalities in California and Washington state on Wednesday. The most recent death is connected to a cruise ship that traveled from the U.S. to Mexico.

Officials in Placer County, Calif., announced that an elderly resident has become the first person to die from the illness in California. The patient, who was not identified, had underlying health conditions, according to the county.

GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE

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.

hospital sign and hospital building
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

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.

Bronze bull statues in the fountain in front of a green copper looming student center.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

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.

woman casting a vote in privacy booth
ROBERTO ROLDAN / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

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.

Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

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.

Man and doctors at podium
Kerry Sheridan / WUSF Public Media

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. 

A walker rests beside a small nursing home bed.
iStock

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

Second Coronavirus Case Confirmed In Hillsborough, Third In Florida

Mar 3, 2020
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

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

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.

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.

iStock

Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed Monday the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Florida, in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

List of ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Hillsborough County

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

Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

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.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

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.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

Four more people in the Seattle area have died after contracting COVID-19, health officials say, bringing the total in both Washington state and the U.S. to six. The state now has a total of 18 cases.

Three of the people who died were residents of King County, Wash., which now has 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The fourth person had been living in Snohomish County, north of Seattle. That county has a total of four cases.

coronavirus
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Florida has its first two cases of COVID-19 as patients in Hillsborough and Manatee counties tested positive for the virus, officials from the Florida Department of Health announced Sunday night.

Updated at 10:21 p.m ET

As labs across the United States quickly ramp up their ability to test for the novel coronavirus, public health officials are anxiously awaiting results that could start to reveal its secret movements around the country.

New cases of the coronavirus were identified in at least four states on Sunday: New York, Rhode Island, California and Washington.

State Labs Now Testing For Coronavirus

Mar 1, 2020
coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A top Florida Department of Health official said Saturday that three laboratories in the state can now test for the novel coronavirus, the contagious disease known as COVID-19.

Deputy Secretary of Health Shamarial Roberson told The News Service of Florida that state laboratories in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa can conduct tests instead of sending samples to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs in Atlanta.

“It is good news,” Roberson said, adding, “it leads to more timely testing.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that the federal government is prepared to assist the states if the coronavirus spreads significantly across the country — an eventuality he called unlikely.

Pence told a brief press conference in Florida that as a former Indiana governor he understands the need for state and federal partnerships in dealing with a potential health crisis. President Donald Trump appointed Pence on Wednesday to oversee the administration’s response to the coronavirus.

Florida’s largest insurance company, Florida Blue, is ready to work with the Florida Department of Health in response to the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday night a new case of COVID-19 in California that hasn’t been linked to travel abroad. That means it could be the first example of community spread of the virus.

90.7 Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with Florida Blue and GuideWell CEO Pat Geraghty about COVID 19.

State Monitoring 150 People For Coronavirus

Feb 29, 2020
coronavirus
Wikimedia Commons

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said Friday that 15 people in Florida have tested negative for coronavirus.

The state is monitoring another 150 people for the deadly virus, a significant drop from the 700 people who were at one time under investigation, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appeared with Rivkees at Palm Beach International Airport Friday afternoon, told reporters.<--break->

As of Friday, Florida had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which began in China and is known as COVID-19.

Updated at 1:11 a.m. ET, Feb. 29

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Friday that it is "aware of four new presumptive cases of COVID-19."

The new cases were reported in:

  • California (another possible instance of community spread),
  • Oregon (that state's first possible case of community spread),

Growing Concerns Of Coronavirus Should Spur Plans – Not Panic – In The Workplace

Feb 28, 2020

Chances are, if you work for a large company, you received an email like one sent to Volkswagen employees Monday: Coronavirus concerns mean some limits on business travel, everyone should remember to “wash your hands frequently” and stay home if sick.

Governor Ron DeSantis updated media Thursday morning about Coronavirus, or Covid-19, and how Florida is monitoring the international outbreak. Right now, there are no confirmed cases in the state. Some people have been quarantined on suspicion they could be infected. Senate Democrats are calling for more transparency about who is being monitored and where.

No one in Florida has the illness caused by the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus, but state officials say they’re preparing in case that changes.

Students marching, holding flags of their home countries.
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

The coronavirus is causing local universities to bring home some of their students who were studying abroad.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

The U.S. health care system is trying to be ready for possible outbreaks of the new coronavirus, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned communities this week to prepare for the kind of spread now being seen in Iran, Italy, South Korea and other areas outside the virus' epicenter in China.

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