Gov. DeSantis says more coronavirus cases expected after first 2 cases confirmed in Florida, threat to public remains low

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects more people to test positive for the coronavirus in Florida after the first two cases of the virus were confirmed in the state.

The cases, which were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, include a Manatee County man in his 60s without travel history and a Hillsborough County woman in her 20s resident who recently traveled to Northern Italy where there has been an outbreak of the virus.

Officials said the woman is receiving medical care at home, and the man remains hospitalized. They said health officials are investigating how the man may have contracted the illness.

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Health officials said the risk to the public remains low and that both individuals affected are currently in isolation.

DeSantis said in total 23 people in Florida have been tested for COVID-19, 184 people are actively being monitored for the virus and a total of 795 have been monitored since the outbreak began in China.

“We do anticipate that more will test positive," DeSantis said. "And we’ve taken additional actions to help contain the viruses spread.”

DeSantis said in general, COVID-19 does not cause serious complications for the young or middle-aged. Those will underlying health conditions and the elderly are the most at-risk.

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State health officials are urging nursing homes and assisted living facilitates to take extra precautions.

“Please review your visitation policies and consider restricting visitation. Please screen all visitors for being ill. And restrict anybody with any sign of illness from visiting,” said Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida’s surgeon general .

Rivkees said the state also wants anyone returning from Italy, South Korea, Iran or China to take extra precautions upon their return.

“If you are returning from these areas, we’re asking that you self-isolate for 14 days after returning,” Rivkees said.

He said that also applies to anyone in Florida who’s been to those countries in the last two weeks.

But Rivkees assured Floridians that the public health risk remains low.

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“The risk to the general population is currently low. You can go about your normal business,” he said.

DeSantis said he’s declared a public health emergency to help curb the spread of the virus in Florida.

“I also directed the Department of Health to declare a public health emergency to better equip our state with the resources needed to handle this threat,” he said.

In a release, DeSantis said, "I have been working with federal partners and our Department of Health to ensure that communities are ready to handle the challenges presented by COVID-19. The dedicated professionals at our county health departments, as well as those working at local medical providers, are well equipped to address these and future cases. 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.”

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WATCH LIVE: Gov. Ron DeSantis providing update on coronavirus in Florida

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Ron DeSantis is providing an update on the coronavirus in Florida after two presumtive positive cases were reported in the state. READ MORE: at.wftv.com/2wmCjf0

Posted by WFTV Channel 9 on Monday, March 2, 2020

Christopher Boyce, WFTV.com

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.