Coronavirus cases jump, now more than 300 in Florida with almost half of counties reporting cases

Coronavirus: 6 steps you can take to prevent it

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In a single day, coronavirus cases in Florida jumped by almost 100, rising to 328 from 216 just the day before. There are also additional counties with cases.

UPDATE: Some of the information in this article may be outdated. To see the latest number of coronavirus patients, follow this link

Counties with their first cases include Gadsden, Leon, Sumter and Walton, bringing the total number of Florida counties with cases to 31 out of 67. Other counties with cases include: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, and Volusia.

On Tuesday, we learned there was a seventh death in the state, this time a resident from Manatee County. No further details have been released. Wednesday we learned an eighth person had died, this time in Clay County.

Locally, the health department says there are eight cases in Manatee County, including five men and three women, ranging from the ages of 61-81. In Sarasota County, there are four cases, including three men and one woman, ranging in ages from 50-87.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital was caring for the four patients and says two remain hospitalized while two others have been safely discharged. We asked the hospital if that means the patients have fully recovered, but the spokesperson said they cannot release further details, adding, “We are working in concert with the health dept. When we discharge patients, the health department takes over public monitoring and any additional testing and quarantine requirements.”

COVID-19: What older adults need to know about the outbreak and staying healthy

Health officials have begun deploying three field hospitals across the state. Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said Tuesday night via email that one field hospital is currently staged in Orlando, and the others are being sent to Broward County and Ocala.

Broward County has the most cases with 80, followed by Miami-Dade with 77. The next closest is Palm Beach with 21.

There are now 9,415 cases in the United States and 222,642 cases across the world. There have been 150 deaths in the United States and 9,115 worldwide.

To see a larger version of this map, which is best viewed on a desktop computer, follow this link.

Positive Cases of COVID-19 (as of 6pm, March 18):

  • Confirmed Cases in Florida Residents: 299
    • Confirmed by DOH: 177
    • Tested by private labs: 122
    • FL resident diagnosed & isolated out-of-state: 6
    • Deaths: 8
  • Cases in Non-Florida Residents: 29
    • Confirmed by DOH: 23
    • Tested by private labs: 6
  • Total Cases Overview: 328
    • Traveled: 92
    • Contact with confirmed case: 56
    • Travel & contact with confirmed case: 71
    • Under Investigation: 109
  • Number of People Tested: 2800
    • Negative: 1332
    • Positive: 328
    • Results Pending: 1140
    • Being Monitored: 967

Monday afternoon, President Trump announced the CDC recommendation to all Americans to not gather in groups of more than 10 people, one of the steps he believes are necessary over the next 15 days to fight what he calls this “invisible enemy.”

The other recommendations are:

Below is additional information from the health department:

COVID-19 Public Website and Call Center

Please visit the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to

Protecting yourself from coronavirus

What You Should Know

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 the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, 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; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Below is additional information from the local county health departments:

Both health lines are available for residents of their respective counties to help answer any questions about the coronavirus and serve as a first stop before residents go to their doctor’s office.

“Calling the health department ahead of time allows us to coordinate with the health care system to assure appropriate infection control measures in our community,” Manatee Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Bencie said. “It also meets the guidelines laid out in Section 3 of the statewide Declaration of Public Health Emergency issued on March 1.”

Experts are available from 8am until 5pm, Monday through Friday. They’ll be able to interview callers to determine if they’re at risk for having coronavirus.

  • If you’re in Manatee County, call 941-242-6649
  • If you’re in Sarasota County, call 941-861-2883

The State Department of Health is also running a hotline for anyone who believes they may have coronavirus. If it’s after-hours, call 866-779-6121. That line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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