TALLAHASSEE — The CDC confirmed Monday afternoon that two people in the Tampa Bay area have the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
Two Tampa Bay Area Residents Test Positive:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis disclosed late Sunday that two people in the Tampa Bay area were the first to test presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. DeSantis directed his top health official to declare a public health emergency.
During a press conference on Monday, the Florida Department of Health said that one patient is an adult male in his 60s in Manatee County. According to State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, the patient does not have a travel history to countries identified for restricted travel by the CDC. He added that the patient is being treated at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota.
The second patient is a 20-year-old woman in Hillsborough County who recently traveled to Italy. She is isolated at home and will remain isolated until cleared by public health officials.
Tampa International Airport confirmed Monday evening that the woman came through the airport on her return flight from Italy.
The positive tests needed to be confirmed by the CDC. At 1:14 p.m. on Monday, the DOH tweeted that the CDC confirms the two cases of COVID-19.
.@CDCgov confirms Florida’s two cases of #COVID19. Visit @HealthyFla's dedicated information page for the latest updates and guidance: https://t.co/e1S8bGG26U. Know the Facts. #PublicHealth #WHO #Coronavirus
— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) March 2, 2020
Executive Order Issued:
A statement released Sunday said DeSantis was issuing an executive order taking immediate effect to direct the state health officer and surgeon general to declare a public health emergency in Florida. DeSantis added that he authorized that official, Dr. Scott Rivkees, to take “any action necessary to protect the public health."
The statement also said the Florida Department of Health has been designated the lead state agency to coordinate emergency responses and to actively monitor all those with apparent or suspected COVID-19 infections for at least 14 days or until tests turned up negative.
"The public health emergency ensures that health care providers, hospitals and labs immediately report all suspected cases to the department of health," DeSantis said on Monday. "It also advises individuals of the proper protective measures that need to be taken regarding the possible exposure to COVID-19."
According to the department of health, there are 184 people under public health monitoring in the state of Florida. There are eight pending test results and 15 negative test results. Click here for more information.
Gov. Ron DeSantis And State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees Address COVID-19:
"The overall immediate threat to the public remains low," DeSantis said during Monday's press conference. "With that said, we do anticipate more will test positive and we have taken additional actions to contain the virus spread."
DeSantis told Florida residents the goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Rivkees said to, "go about your normal business."
“State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees has taken appropriate, decisive action to help affect the best possible outcomes, and I will continue directing our state agencies to do whatever is necessary to prioritize the health and well-being of Florida residents,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement.
“We are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local medical providers to ensure these individuals receive the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with them is following the necessary protocols, limiting or stopping any further spread,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees.
Questions Raised On Why The State Waited To Tell The Public:
ABC Action News first learned of reports of a coronavirus patient at a Sarasota hospital at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, but when a reporter called about the case, the Sarasota County Health Department dismissed the report as a hoax.
The Florida Department of Health confirmed two positive cases 12 hours later to ABC Action News.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office sent out a press release confirming both cases and issuing a public health emergency about 9 minutes later.
State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees admitted the state learned of the first confirmed case on Saturday.
“We became aware of this Saturday evening,” Dr. Rivkees told reporters at a Monday morning press conference in Tampa.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus:
The CDC has offered some tips it believes will help prevent the spread of the disease.
And if you develop mild symptoms, the World Health Organization recommends staying home.
Note: Reports from the Associated Press were used in this article.