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2 presumptive coronavirus cases reported in Florida

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Posted at 10:08 PM, Mar 01, 2020

Florida has its first two presumptive coronavirus cases, one adult each in Hillsborough and Manatee counties in the Tampa Bay area, the state Department of Health said Sunday night.

In announcing the cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to direct a public health emergency and a statewide response protocol for the virus, which is called COVID-19.

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DeSantis and other health officials will be in Tampa and Miami on Monday "to discuss our continued statewide response on COVID-19," according to a tweet Sunday night. The news conference in Tampa is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday followed by a second news conference in Miami at 2 p.m.

“I have been working with federal partners and our Department of Health to ensure that communities are ready to handle the challenges presented by COVID-19," the governor said in a news release. "The dedicated professionals at our county health departments, as well as those working at local medical providers, are well equipped to address these and future cases. State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees has taken appropriate, decisive action to help affect the best possible outcomes, and I will continue directing our state agencies to do whatever is necessary to prioritize the health and well-being of Florida residents.”

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The Health Department posted on Twitter: "Both individuals are isolated and being appropriately cared for." Their identification, including their sex, were not revealed.

Hillsborough County includes Tampa and is north of Manatee County, which includes Bradenton.

Health officials said the Manatee County resident is an adult who does not have a travel history to countries identified for restricted travel by the CDC. This person did seek health care, is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials.

The Hillsborough County patient has a history of travel to Italy. The state said this person is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials.

WHAT IS A "PRESUMPTIVE CASE"?

Presumptive cases are announced by a state or county agency but await testing confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state surgeon general said Florida is well prepared to handle the outbreak.

“This is the scenario that we prepare for every day in public health," Rivkees said in a statement Sunday night. "The Department is moving forward with the appropriate plans, and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local medical providers to ensure these individuals receive the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with them is following the necessary protocols, limiting or stopping any further spread. Thanks to Florida’s integrated public health system, we have been able to proactively engage and plan with our public health partners at every level, enabling us to take these important steps in a very expeditious manner. Our epidemiological teams are among the best in the nation, and they are right now aggressively pursuing every potential lead during these critical early moments of this outbreak in Florida.”

On Friday, Rivkees met with the governor met and Vice President Mike Pence in Palm Beach County to discuss the outbreak. Pence has been in put in charge of the federal response by President Donald Trump.

At the time, Rivkees said there were four people suspected of having the coronavius in Florida. Rivkees also said there were 15 individuals who have tested to date who are negative.

“The health and safety of every Floridian, especially the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, remain my highest priority," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement. "I will continue to work with the Trump Administration and Governor DeSantis to ensure our State has the resources and information it needs. I am working with my colleagues in Congress on a funding package to ensure Florida has every available federal resource to respond to the coronavirus, and I look forward to its swift passage in the coming weeks.”

For questions related to coronavirus in Florida, contact the Department's dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121 or e-mailing COVID-19@flhealth.gov. The call center is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott posted on Twitter: "My top priority is the health of Floridians. I've been in contact with federal, state & local officials & am confident they have the resources to keep families safe. But everyone must stay vigilant."

On Friday, Scott urged the CDC "to launch a 24/7, fully staffed phone hotline to address questions from the American public about the Chinese Coronavirus."

The second death from the virus in the United States was announced Sunday. Both of the fatalities occurred in Washington State.

Public Health -- Seattle & King County said a man in his 70s died Saturday. On Friday, health officials said a man in his 50s died of coronavirus. Both had underlying health conditions and ere being treated at Evergreen Health in Kirkland, Washington, east of Seattle.

On Saturday, the CDC said there were 15 confirmed cases and seven presumptive ones. Nine of the cases are "person to person." On Saturday, Trump announced there were 25 cases.

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The total grew to 42 Sunday with 17 additional presumptive cases -- the first one in New York, the first two in Rhode Island, six more in California, seven more in Washington and one more in Oregon.

In all, 472 people have been tested by the CDC.

In addition, there are 47 cases among people repatriated to the United States -- three from Wuhan, China, which is the epicenter or the virus, and 44 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that stopped in China and was docked in Yokahama, Japan, where the guests and crew had been quarantined.

The worldwide death toll passed 3,000 on Sunday with most cases in mainland China. Also, the number of cases neared 90,000. Besides China, there are thousands of cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea.