Officials say more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, 13th death in Florida

Officials say more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, 13th death in Florida
Coronavirus update (Source: KCBD Graphic)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/AP) - Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to stay home and not panic about the spread of the novel coronavirus, which had infected at least 1,000 people across the state as of Sunday.

Thirteen people have died, including the first fatality in Palm Beach County. Nearly half of the state’s positive cases are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

UPDATE: Some of the information in this article may be outdated.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

Florida Coronavirus Update

Gov. DeSantis gives an update on the coronavirus pandemic in Florida. More: www.mysuncoast.com/coronavirus

Posted by ABC7 Sarasota - WWSB on Monday, March 23, 2020

But DeSantis stressed that the results should not cause undue concern.

“The vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for this,” DeSantis said.

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DeSantis held a news conference at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Less than two months after hosting the Super Bowl, the stadium is now the home of a drive-thru testing site recently opened by the National Guard. On Sunday, they were only testing first responders and health care workers. On Monday, they planned to expand it to people at least 65 years old who are showing symptoms of the illness. A testing center at Marlins Park will also open in the coming days, officials said.

According to state figures, more than 11,000 people have been tested for the virus. That’s more than most states, but less than New York.

Locally, the health department says there are now 13 confirmed cases in Manatee County, and the cases include seven men and six women ranging in age from 56-81. There has been one death and seven are hospitalized. One of the cases is travel-related, one has unknown travel and 11 are not travel-related.

The number of confirmed cases in Sarasota County has risen from 15 to 17 and include 12 men and four women ranging in age from 50 to 87. There are currently six hospitalized. Five of the cases are travel-related, five have unknown travel and seven are not travel-related. Five of the cases involve non-Florida residents.

  • Gov. DeSantis issued executive orders ending dine-in at restaurants, closing all gyms and suspending non-essential, elective medical procedures. More information here.
  • Sarasota and Manatee counties closed their beaches. More information here.
  • Mall at UTC, Sarasota Square Mall, Westfield Siesta Key and Ellenton Outlets shut down due to coronavirus. More information here.
  • Area hospitals, including Sarasota and Manatee Memorial Hospitals, ban visitors. More information here.

Both Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota each have a physician who has contracted the virus.

Officials at Doctors Hospital say the physician worked in the behavioral health unit, which is a secure unit with a limited number of patients and employees where patients have private rooms and physicians consult with them at a distance. Visitors are not permitted in the unit.

Doctors Hospital Physician Test Positive for Coronavirus

Doctors Hospital says patients and employees who had potential exposure have been notified and the Florida Health Department is following up. Doctors Hospital adds that all of their employees are screened daily for coronavirus and no employees have developed symptoms.

The physician, whose name was not released, is said to be doing well and is self-isolated at home. No further details about the case, such as when the physician tested positive and how the physician contracted coronavirus, have been released by Doctors Hospital.

Doctors Hospital was one of the first places in the state of Florida to have a positive case of coronavirus.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital says one of their physicians went into self-quarantine last Tuesday after coming into contact with a community member who tested positive the next day. The physician tested positive last Friday.

Although the physician was not symptomatic while working, hospital officials say three clinicians who worked closely with him have been asked to stay home as a precaution and self-monitor for symptoms.

Unlike other area hospitals, Sarasota Memorial has been forthright about the number of coronavirus patients they’re treating. The hospital currently has 10 who tested positive, five of which remain hospitalized and have been in isolation since their admission.

Over the weekend, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Columbia, DeSoto, Flagler, Marion, and Putnam reported their first cases, joining the ever growing list of Florida counties with cases of coronavirus. Other counties include: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia, and Walton.

It is now easier to count the number of counties that do not have cases. In Florida, that’s 22 out of 67 counties.

Miami-Dade has the most cases with 227, followed by Broward with 217, Palm Beach with 72, Hillsborough with 58 and Duval with 39.

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Also Sunday, students at multiple Florida colleges were found to have the virus. Ten students and one employee at the University of Florida in Gainesville, six students at University of Tampa, and one student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg all tested positive, the schools announced. The University of Miami also said a student had the virus.

In addition, a fourth TSA worker at Orlando International Airport has tested positive, officials said. The Transportation Security Administration said the screening officer, last worked March 16 and is quarantining at home.

DeSantis has not called for a “shelter in place” order, unlike governors in California, New York and Illinois, who have ordered such restrictive measures.

There are now 35,224 cases in the United States and 350,536 cases across the world. There have been 471 deaths in the United States and 15,328 worldwide.

In the United States, at least 121 people have recovered while 100,182 have recovered across the world.

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 22):

  • Confirmed Cases in Florida Residents: 937
    • Confirmed by DOH: 370
    • Tested by private labs: 567
    • FL resident diagnosed & isolated out-of-state: 6
    • Deaths: 13
  • Cases in Non-Florida Residents: 70
    • Confirmed by DOH: 31
    • Tested by private labs: 39
  • Total Cases Overview: 1007
    • Traveled: 233
    • Contact with confirmed case: 189
    • Travel & contact with confirmed case: 131
    • Under Investigation: 454
  • Number of People Tested: 11270
    • Negative: 9330
    • Positive: 1007
    • Results Pending: 933
    • Being Monitored: 1147

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 COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

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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