People can now be tested for the coronavirus in Florida, cutting down on wait time for results

Posted at 11:57 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 01:28:23-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Health says that as of Saturday, people with symptoms of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, can be tested here in Florida.

They say this will cut the time for testing nearly in half. Instead of waiting 3-5 days for test results, those tested will likely have results back in 24-48 hours.

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The Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville Departments of Health are all equipped to test for the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“CDC advised us yesterday, after the validation test was complete, to move forward, and cleared us to start testing today, if need be in our public health laboratories,” said Dr. Shamarial Roberson, Deputy Secretary for Health for the Florida Department of Health.

They say those who should be tested are people experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath who have either traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan; have come in contact with a person who had the virus; or have tested negative for the flu.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation that we are monitoring very closely, so it is important that we have the capability in the state, with many residents and visitors, to be able to test for COVID-19,” said Dr. Roberson.

The Florida Department of Health said 15 people have tested negative for the virus in the state, and five people are awaiting test results.

The Florida Department of Health is currently monitoring 173 people for symptoms, all of whom recently returned from China. Those people are being asked to not have contact with others during the disease’s two-week incubation period.

Anyone who feels they have the coronavirus is asked to call the health department.

“We stand equipped, we’re working with many state partners who stand ready to respond to COVID-19,” said Dr. Roberson.

The Florida Department of Health is advising people to consistently wash their hands, and they’re urging anyone feeling sick, to stay home.