SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/AP) - As testing has ramped up across the Sunshine State, the number of coronavirus cases has grown by leaps and bound.
UPDATE: Some of the information in this article may be outdated. To see the latest number of coronavirus patients, follow this link
Florida now has 12,350 confirmed cases of coronavirus and the state has suffered 221 COVID-19 related deaths.
One of the cases includes a Sarasota County firefighter who’s tested presumptively positive for coronavirus. We’re awaiting further information from officials on this new case, but overall cases have risen in both Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Manatee County has 136 cases with the youngest patient being 14-years old. The age range is 14 to 86 for the cases, including 64 men and 71 women. Three people have died and 31 are hospitalized. None of the cases involve non-Florida residents.
Sarasota County has a total of 140 cases and the age range is 0 to 99 for the cases, including 62 men and 77 women. Seven people have died and 50 people are hospitalized. 13 of the 140 cases involve non-Florida residents.
On March 24th, we learned multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. He was 81.
Thursday, we learned of a second death in Sarasota County, this time at Venice Regional Bayfront Health. A hospital spokesperson says a patient was at their facility for the last several days, separated from other patients in an isolation room, and was tested for coronavirus. That test results came back positive and the patient passed away on Thursday.
The hospital cited laws limited their ability to release further information, but said, “Our prayers are with the family and all of those impacted by this illness.”
In Manatee County, officials say no one in jail has displayed symptoms of or been tested for coronavirus. In Sarasota County, two inmates have been tested. The results are still pending, but one has since been released and one remains in custody.
In addition, the number of Florida counties with coronavirus cases has grown. Suwannee and Washington counties are reporting their first cases, making just 19 out of Florida’s 67 counties without cases of coronavirus.
Other counties with cases include: 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 763, followed by Broward with 614, Palm Beach with 194, Hillsborough with 167 and Orange with 156.
On April 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a 30 day ‘stay-at-home’ mandate for the entire of state of Florida. The order began on April 3, at midnight and will end on April 30th.
You can read the entire executive order below:
- City of Sarasota prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more, gives police power to cite violators. More information here.
- Gov. DeSantis issues 30 day ‘stay-at-home’ mandate for Florida.
- Unemployment claims have spiked by tens of thousands in Florida. 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.
Late Wednesday, President Donald Trump declared Florida a disaster area, making the state eligible for federal aid. Gov. DeSantis says the coronavirus outbreak is having a “drastic effect” on the state’s economy and medical providers. His letter to Trump says Florida’s hospitals and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced.
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.
SMH now has a total of nine employees who have tested positive since the outbreak started. One employee was hospitalized but has been discharged and the others have been quarantined to their homes.
These new cases remain under investigation, but SMH says based on the tracing of the employees’ contacts they dis not appear to have a known exposure to a positive patient at the hospital.
Patients and staff who had close contact with the employees in the days before they went into quarantine are being notified.
Several staff members have been asked to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
Unlike other area hospitals, Sarasota Memorial has been forthright about the number of coronavirus patients they’re treating. On Tuesday the hospital said they had another patient die bringing the total to six. Five tested presumptively positive for coronavirus and the other, though initially suspected of having coronavirus, had a negative test result for the virus. There have been over 760 people tested at SMH, 635 neagtive results, 61 positive cases of COVID-19 at the hospital, 34 other patients being treated for coronavirus at the hospital, and 33 patients who have been safely discharged.
Though the hospital did not release information about the patient who passed away on March 24th, 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 331,234 cases in the United States - surpassing China and Italy for the most in the world. Those countries have 82,602 and 128,948 respectively, while there are now over 1.2 million cases around the world. There have been 9,458 deaths in the United States and 69,082 worldwide.
In the United States, 16,848 people have recovered while 127,615 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, April 5):
- Confirmed Cases in Florida Residents: 11961
- Confirmed by DOH: 1521
- Tested by private labs: 10440
- FL resident diagnosed & isolated out-of-state: 9
- Deaths: 221
- Cases in Non-Florida Residents: 389
- Total Cases Overview: 12350
- Traveled: 1105
- Contact with confirmed case: 2043
- Travel & contact with confirmed case: 731
- Under Investigation: 8082
- Number of People Tested: 116898
- Negative: 103301
- Positive: 12350
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.