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Health officials detail Coronavirus steps to Hillsborough County Commissioners

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 04, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Health officials told Hillsborough County commissioners they are hoping for the best, but prepared for the worse amid Coronavirus concerns.

On Wednesday, the director of the Hillsborough County Health Department presented to commissioners and answered questions regarding the virus, also known as COVID-19.

"I think our residents want information and as long as we’re informing them and keeping them safe we’re gonna be in a much better position to attack this if it starts to spread," said Commissioner Sandy Murman.

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Murman requested the presentation. County officials said emergency management staff have met about the virus.

"I think the biggest concern I have is the elderly population people over 65 years is our fastest growing segment population in Hillsborough County, so I’m very concerned about the elderly. That’s why I think information’s gonna be really important to make them feel okay and secure about where they are right now," said Murman.

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Director Dr. Douglas Holt told commissioners it was a rapidly evolving situation, and that it is a low risk right now but does have the potential to become a significant health threat.

"I was notified late Saturday evening about a presumptive positive case. My first priority was the safety and health of the individual made sure that she was okay and then I had to make sure that she was safe to the public based on where she was. And we look at the conditions where she’s living things like that," said Holt.

Holt said close contacts were quarantined and anyone who is a in a lower risk but was in a vicinity has been notified, giving credit to the patient.

"She has been one thousand percent cooperative, she’s fully disclosed anything and everything that we needed to do, our job and she’s taken every step she could from the time she left Europe to arrival all the way here," he said.

At last check, Holt said 11 people have been tested. Of those, one was positive, one is presumptive positive, five were negative and four are pending.

"The testing is a big challenge here. Our supply has not met the demand and I very much hope to see both our academic and private labs develop their test promptly. That’s critical to this stage," he said.

Holt said they are continuing to monitor returning travelers and urging the public to help by following the same steps they would take to prevent the flu.

"Be concerned but don’t panic, continue on with your life and daily activities but please please do the advice we have all given about avoiding influenza," he said.

Holt said they are also sharing their experience with other counties.