SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/AP) - The number of cases increased by more than 500 between the Florida Health Department’s 6pm update on Tuesday and their 6pm update on Wednesday.
As of 6pm on Tuesday there were 1,467 cases in the Sunshine State, but by Wednesday evening that number had increased to 1,977 and three additional deaths were reported.
UPDATE: Some of the information in this article may be outdated. To see the latest number of coronavirus patients, follow this link
Locally cases rose again. Manatee County now has 26 cases with the youngest patient being 14-years old. The age range is 14 to 81 for the cases, including 15 men and 11 women. One person has died and 10 are hospitalized. Three of the cases are travel-related, eight have unknown travel and 15 are not travel-related.
Sarasota County has a total of 32 cases with the youngest patient being 49-years old. The age range is 49 to 87 for the cases, including 20 men and 12 women. One person has died and 14 people are hospitalized. 12 of the cases are travel-related and 20 are not travel-related. Five of the cases involve non-Florida residents.
Tuesday, we learned multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. He was 81.
- Unemployment claims have spiked by tens of thousands in Florida. More information here.
- Gov. DeSantis says he wants to avoid a statewide shutdown. More information here.
- Florida’s state surgeon general will issue a health advisory recommending those 65+ with underlying health conditions to stay at home for 14 days. More information here.
- An executive order issued by Gov. DeSantis orders travelers from some states who fly to Florida to self-quarantine. More information here. The next day, Gov. DeSantis issued additional restrictions. More information here.
- 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.
- Manatee County will close their public boat ramps and Beer Can Island. 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.
Despite the number of coronavirus cases more than doubling over the weekend, Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging Floridians to not panic and to stay home, though he has not issued a stay-at-home order.
DeSantis has, however, asked President Donald Trump to declare Florida a disaster area, saying the coronavirus outbreak is having a “drastic effect” on the state’s economy and medical providers. His letter to Trump released late Monday says Florida’s hospitals and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced.
A declaration would make Florida eligible for federal aid.
Forty-six of Florida’s 67 counties now have cases of coronavirus, including: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Gadsden, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia, and Walton.
Miami-Dade has the most cases with 400, followed by Broward with 355, Palm Beach with 118, Hillsborough with 106 and Orange with 77.
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 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 says Tuesday, they had two patients die. One tested presumptively positive for coronavirus and the other was suspected of having coronavirus but the test results came back negative. There have been 21 positive cases of COVID-19 at the hospital and 11 other patients being treated for coronavirus at the hospital.
Though the hospital did not release information about the patient who passed away, representative Matt Polk confirmed multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally died at the hospital on Tuesday. He was 81.
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.
There are now 55,243 cases in the United States and 438,749 cases across the world. There have been 802 deaths in the United States and 19,675 worldwide.
In the United States, 354 people have recovered while 111,895 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 11am, March 25):
- Confirmed Cases in Florida Residents: 1867
- Confirmed by DOH: 513
- Tested by private labs: 1354
- FL resident diagnosed & isolated out-of-state: 6
- Deaths: 23
- Cases in Non-Florida Residents: 110
- Confirmed by DOH: 39
- Tested by private labs: 71
- Total Cases Overview: 1977
- Traveled: 358
- Contact with confirmed case: 368
- Travel & contact with confirmed case: 230
- Under Investigation: 1021
- Number of People Tested: 23723
- Negative: 20165
- Positive: 1977
- Results Pending: 1581
- Being Monitored: 1665
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:
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 COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.