Infectious disease expert: Florida's hospitals prepared for disaster, may need more resources for coronavirus

Florida officials are always prepared for hurricane season, but when it comes to coronavirus, is it a storm they're prepared to weather? Sarasota Memorial Hospital's infection disease specialist said they've been monitoring the situation since December. 

"Ever since we started hearing there was an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, whenever we hear things like that, our epidemiology team is usually on the lookout for this type of thing," said Manuel Gordillo, M.D. "So we heard about that, and we've been monitoring it closely."

Dr. Gordillo said if you feel like you're showing symptoms, the first thing to do is think about your travel history. "You have to be in an area where there has been sustained transmission," Gordillo explained. "So right now, the countries considered for that are China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. We ask them to contact their doctor and their doctor has been instructed to take a travel history and make a clinical assessment."

USF health professor Dr. Jay Wolfson said unless you're considered high-risk, stay at home and take care of it as if it were a cold. "There's no sense in flooding the system for low-risk symptoms that you should treat as if they were flu-like," Wolfson said.

Likening it to hurricane preparations, Wolfson said state emergency officials are ahead of the game when it comes to procedures for mass disasters. 

"Our hospitals are prepared at that level, but they may not be prepared for the resources that they need to use to manage the care," Wolfson said. "For example, the testing kits, which are just now becoming available on the market."

California received 200 of those kits this week, an amount Governor Gavin Newsom called "simply inadequate."

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Gordillo said right now, the testing has been centralized to the CDC's headquarters in Atlanta, but that's set to change. "We hope that by next week Florida will have the capability to test and we have in Florida three different laboratories that could do that," he said.