TAMPA, Fla. - The CDC has confirmed that two people in the Tampa Bay area have tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19, though officials say it is not known how one of the patients contracted the disease.
On Monday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference with the state's surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, to provide an update on the state's preparations and the individuals who tested "presumptive positive." Hours later, the Florida Department of Health said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the patients have the virus.
According to Rivkees, a woman in her 20s who tested positive in Hillsborough County had recently traveled to northern Italy, where there is currently an outbreak of COVID-19. He said the patient is in stable condition and is in isolation at home.
However, officials do not know how the second patient, a man in his 60s from Manatee County, contracted the disease since he did not recently travel to one of the areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rivkees said the man had been hospitalized for pneumonia when he tested presumptive positive for coronavirus. He remains hospitalized in stable condition.
"At the present time, it is not known how this individual was exposed to COVID-19," Rivkees said. "This is a rapidly evolving situation.”
Meanwhile, Sarasota Military Academy announced Monday morning that a student and his mother were quarantined "due to the mother's contact with a patient at Sarasota Doctors Hospital in her professional role." School officials added that both are not showing any symptoms.
"We will keep you and your families updated with their status. Please remember to consistently and thoroughly wash your hands," according to a statement. "We are continuing to disinfect all classrooms and common areas as we have previously done due to flu season."
In total, Florida has monitored 795 people for coronavirus, with 184 people still being monitored now. Twenty-three people have been tested for the disease.
Rivkees said the state learned about the first case, the Manatee County man, after he tested positive Saturday evening. When questioned by reporters about why the state waited nearly 24 hours to notify the public, Rivkees said the state's first priority was to immediately activate "containment measures."
"We are all here right now, today, to inform about this particular development in our state," he added, before Gov. DeSantis stepped in.
“Despite these cases, the overall threat to the public remains low,” the governor said. “With that said, we do anticipate that more will test positive.”
DeSantis said he declared a public health emergency to better equip the state with resources needed to handle the threat.
Florida has three labs in Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville that can now test for coronavirus, with results expected within 24 to 48 hours. Upon a positive test result, the state will then send samples to the CDC for further confirmation -- until then, the test is considered "presumptively" positive.
For those who think have symptoms, or may have been exposed, DeSantis offered this advice:
“Contact their local county health department prior to traveling to any physician’s office, emergency department, hospital, or urgent care center,” he said.
That will help prevent the spread of the disease and lower the risk to health care workers.
IF YOU FEEL SICK:
The CDC currently recommends mitigation measures in communities with COVID-19 cases, including staying at home when sick, keeping away from others who are sick and staying at home when a household member is sick with respiratory disease symptoms or if instructed to do so by public health officials or a health care provider.
COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The CDC recommends the following preventative measures to minimize the spread of illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- CDC does not recommend that people who aren't sick wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by those who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.