SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Doctors Hospital of Sarasota says it's beginning to admit new patients and resuming elective procedures after a patient tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.
The hospital says on Friday, February 28 the CDC updated its criteria regarding when to test for the virus. A patient who came into the hospital earlier in the week who met the new criteria was tested and hospital officials say they took immediate action and activated established protocols to handle a potential case of coronavirus, including immediate isolation.
The next evening, on Saturday, February 29, a state lab returned a presumptive positive result.
The man, who is from Manatee County, was one of the first two cases of coronavirus in Florida. The other involved a woman in her 20s from Hillsborough County who had been traveling through Italy. Since then, there has been a third coronavirus case involving the sister of the Hillsborough County woman who traveled with her in Italy and a fourth case involving a Florida resident who traveled through Asia and is currently in self-isolation in the state of Washington.
Unlike the Hillsborough County case, the CDC is still working to determine how the Manatee County man became infected as he did not travel to any areas where coronavirus is known to be spreading.
Doctors Hospital says after the test results came back, they immediately notified anyone who had been in contact with the patient and furloughed employees. They also sent out a letter on Sunday, March 1 about the presence of coronavirus and suspended elective procedures. That letter spread like wildfire on social media, alerting the Suncoast about the case before health officials released any official information.
The CDC confirmed on Monday, March 2 that the man has coronavirus.
One of the employees affected is Rose Schultz's daughter, Wendy. Schultz told ABC7 that her daughter was one of 12 people at the hospital who were exposed to the patient.
She said the patient came in for what they believed was pneumonia and her daughter was exposed to the virus on Wednesday, February 26, days before he was tested for coronavirus.
Her daughter, a breast cancer survivor, is now in quarantine, as is her 17-year-old grandson, a student at Sarasota Military Academy who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, which is a life-threatening lung disease. Because of her family’s underlying health issues she said she is concerned.
“Well I’m very concerned for both of them. This could be devastating for him. But, the community, I mean we’re all just sitting here. This thing is going viral. You know we’ve seen what it has done to other parts of the world so right now it’s here in Sarasota," Schultz said.
Sarasota Military Academy says once they were made aware their student was quarantined, they began to do a deep clean at the school.
"And we did hear about this. We went into the classrooms sanitize again. We’ve sanitized the buses as well. We’ve met with the faculty and staff. They’re very well aware, went over all the precautions as well. We’re following the Department of Health protocol," says Christina Bowman, the Executive Director of Schools Sarasota Military Academy. "At this time we’re not following any need to exclude cadets and there’s no need for a school closure at this time."
Schultz said her daughter and grandson will be in quarantine for nine days. Over those days she said they will continuously check their temperatures and if they show signs of a fever, coughing, or have trouble breathing they will go to the hospital.
When ABC7 asked Schultz where her daughter went between Wednesday, February 26 and Sunday, March 1 before finding out that she had been exposed, Schultz said she didn’t know where her daughter went during that time besides work.
Doctors Hospital says it’s working closely with the State Department of Health and CDC to take appropriate precautions on behalf of patients, caregivers, and the community. Hospital officials say they treat patients with infectious diseases every day and have been reinforcing infection prevention protocols in addition to coronavirus guidelines from the CDC. Officials say they are continuously terminally cleaning the entire building by using anti-microbial disinfectant on every surface in the hospital, both clinical and public spaces.
Doctors Hospital says starting Wednesday, March 4 they are beginning to admit new patients to the hospital and resuming elective procedures. Their emergency room remains open.
If you have any questions about the coronavirus, call the State Department of Health at 1-866-779-6121. The call center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.