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DeSantis Declares Public Health Emergency After Two Floridians 'Presumptively' Test Positive for Coronavirus

One of the patients is a Manatee County resident who is being treated at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.

By Megan McDonald March 1, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

Two Floridians have "presumptively" tested positive for coronavirus, or Covid-19, prompting Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a statewide public health emergency. One of the patients is a Manatee County adult; the second patient, also an adult, lives in Hillsborough County.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the Manatee County resident did not have a history of visiting countries identified for restricted travel by the CDC. Upon developing symptoms, the patient sought care and is currently remains isolated until cleared by public health officials. There are eight other coronavirus tests in Florida currently pending results; the Florida Department of Health adds that despite the presumptive positive cases, "the overall immediate threat to the public remains low."

Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure to the virus. 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. 

As part of the state public health emergency, the Florida Department of Health will actively monitor all who meet the definition of a person under investigation (PUI) for coronavirus, as defined by the CDC, for a period of at least 14 days or until the person tests negative for the virus. Active monitoring includes, at minimum, risk assessment within 24 hours of learning an individual meets PUI criteria, as well as twice-daily temperature checks. The Florida Department of Health will lead emergency response activities among the various state agencies and local governments. 

DeSantis will hold press conferences at Tampa and Miami department of health locations on March 2. 

This is a developing story. 

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