TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday the state is ready to respond to any potential cases of the deadly coronavirus.
"First and foremost, there are still no cases of coronavirus in Florida," Gov. DeSantis said at a news conference in Tallahassee. "This is a rapidly evolving situation, we're carefully monitoring."
The governor said Florida is following guidance from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health and Human Services with regard to prevention measures for coronavirus, or COVID-19.
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"The Florida Department of Health has been fully engaged from the beginning with their response," said Gov. DeSantis.
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The governor said Florida has a coronavirus Incident Management Team in place and is getting multiple daily updates from the CDC. In addition, the state has hundreds of Department of Health professionals ready to respond.
The Florida Department of Health has set up a special website with the latest information about coronavirus. CLICK HERE FOR THAT WEBSITE.
"This is a new virus," said State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. "This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation."
Dr. Rivkees said the immediate health risk for coronavirus in the U.S. is low, however, we need to be prepared for additional cases.
The doctor added the death rate from COVID-19 is about 2 percent, compared to the flu which is .1 percent.
"It can cause both upper and lower respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and in some situations, pneumonia," said Dr. Rivkees. "The highest complication rates are in the elderly and those individuals with underlying medical conditions."
Dr. Rivkees said the virus is spread through coughing and sneezing, so it's important to always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands regularly.
In 80 percent of cases, the symptoms will be mild, 15 percent of patients will have severe illness, and 3 percent will be critically ill, according to Dr. Rivkees.
"Most individuals who will have COVID-19 can be cared for at home," said Dr. Rivkees, who added there is no vaccine or anti-viral medications for coronavirus, and the treatment is mostly symptomatic.
The doctor said a COVID-19 vaccine is currently under development, but it won't be available for more than a year.
Gov. DeSantis said people who have visited China in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the U.S.
Flights from China are being directed to 11 international airports so the passengers on board can be screened for coronavirus. However, none of those airports are in Florida.
As of Wednesday, the CDC's website said there are 14 confirmed cases in the United States. That number does not include people who returned to the U.S. via State Department chartered flights.
On Thursday, Japan announced the closure of schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus.