TIMELINE: Coronavirus updates - Saturday, March 21

TIMELINE: Coronavirus updates - Saturday, March 21
Genetic testing (WFTV)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Read live updates below:

8:45 p.m. update

The Florida Dept. of Emergency Management sent collection kits to these Central Florida locations:

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Orlando Health: 600

Volusia County Health Department: 300

Brevard County Health Department: 600

According to the Department of Health, there are more than 18,000 hospital beds available statewide. This includes 1,700 ICU beds for adults.

8:30 p.m. update

Of the patients in Florida tested for coronavirus, 316 have been tested by the Department of Health and 390 have been tested by private labs.

6:50 p.m. update

As of right now, there are 706 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida residents and 57 cases of non-Florida residents.

6:05 p.m. update

The Orlando Fire Dept. says four firefighters came into contact with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighers were told to self-isolate for 14 days. OFD says the firefighters are not showing signs of coronavirus at this time, but will continue to self-monitor. OFD says it was notified of the exposure yesterday.

Download the WFTV news app and watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for live updates on this developing story, or click here to have updates sent straight to your inbox.

5:45 p.m. update

Governor Ron DeSantis updated Floridians on the state of the coronavirus:

  • Florida Surgeon General says test results are back for 8,800 cases
  • He asked people remain calm and not believe everything they read on social media and the internet
  • Expects to have more information on testing in The Villages tomorrow
  • Confirmed people who show symptoms of coronavirus will not have to pay for the test when it is administered
  • Hillsborough County is beginning to see more cases. As of this writing, the Florida Dept. of Health lists 42 cases on its website.

5:00 p.m. update

Gov. DeSantis conducting live media conference.

4:55 p.m. update

We’re waiting for the media conference called by Gov. DeSantis to begin.

4:30 p.m. update

The Florida National Guard, in an email to WFTV, has confirmed more than 1,000 National Guardsmen are responding to the COVID-19 crisis at the orders of Gov. DeSantis. They are preparing to expand their support of community based testing sites in Miami-Dade and Orange counties.

Lake Nona genetic testing company says its labs will conduct mass testing for coronavirus

3:45 p.m. update

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he plans to hold a media conference live from the State Emergency Operation Center at 4:45 p.m.

WFTV will air the media conference live on Ch.9. You can also watch it stream live by clicking here.

3:15 p.m. update

Officials said the beaches in Flagler County remain open with the CDC’s social-distancing guidelines and will remain open as long as beachgoers continue to self-regulate.



2:40 p.m. update

The FAA said it lifted a brief virus-related suspension of flights to New York City-area and Philadelphia airports.


1:45 p.m. update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid coronavirus test, which produces results in about 45 minutes.

An FDA spokeswoman confirmed the approval after an announcement from Cepheid, a Silicon Valley molecular diagnostics company.

It can take at least a few days to get results from current coronavirus tests, which typically are sent in batches to reference labs, said Dr. David Persing, the company’s chief medical and technology officer.

“What’s really needed is a test that can rapidly determine status of infection on site when patients are being seen,” he said on a company video.

Cepheid said it will begin shipping its tests next week.

Vice President Mike Pence said during a news conference Saturday afternoon that he and his wife will undergo testing for the coronavirus after a member of his staff tested positive for the virus.

Pence said that neither he nor President Donald Trump had close contact with the staff member, who is not being identified.

The White House’s news conference is ongoing. Click here to watch it live.

Elsewhere in the world, Italy’s tally of coronavirus cases and deaths keeps rising, with new day-to-day highs of 793 dead and 6,557 new cases.


12:55 p.m. update

The White House is giving a live update on the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to watch it live.


12 p.m. update

Not near a TV right now? Click here to watch live, in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic on Channel 9 Eyewitness News at Noon.

Click here to see a map of confirmed coronavirus cases in Central Florida.


11:15 a.m. update

Florida now has 658 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 12 deaths.

Of those cases, 603 involve Florida residents and 55 cases involve people who are not from Florida.


10 a.m. update

A Navy sailor assigned to the United States Central Command headquarters in Florida has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a spokesman said Saturday morning.

The sailor returned to the U.S. from overseas travel March 15 and went into a precautionary quarantine at his home, CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in a news release.

CENTCOM is located at Macdill Air Force base in Tampa. The sailor started developing symptoms March 18 and called ahead to the base’s health officials. He was met outside the base by doctors.

Officials said his test returned positive March 20.


9:15 a.m. update

Orlando Health said Saturday morning that it is temporarily suspending routine visitation at its hospitals.

Hospital officials said the following:

• Patients will be allowed one adult visitor, and it must be the same visitor for the duration of the patient's stay, unless specified otherwise.

• All visitors will be screened and must be absent of symptoms of and exposure to the coronavirus.

• Visitation after 9 p.m. will be suspended except for emergency situations.

• No visitors will be allowed in rooms of a patient who is suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19.

• No visitors will be allowed in the Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital Behavioral Health unit.

• Patients who are younger than 18 may have two visitors (parents or guardians), who must remain in the patient’s room for the duration of the visit.

• Visitor restrictions in the neonatal units will be communicated directly to parents.

• Patients who are at the end-of-life may have two visitors, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.

• Visitors may not remove any supplies or equipment from the hospital.

• All other exceptions to these guidelines must be cleared by the administrator or the leader of a specific clinical area.


8:45 a.m. update

Victoria’s Secret said Saturday morning that it is temporarily closing its stores until March 29, including its locations at the Mall at Millenia, The Florida Mall and its online store.


7:30 a.m. update

Want to see where in Florida coronavirus cases have been reported? Click here to see an interactive map.


5:45 a.m. update

Overnight, countywide curfews in Orange and Osceola counties ended at 5 a.m. Saturday. The curfews will go back into effect at 11 p.m. Saturday.

So far, the state has confirmed 563 cases of coronavirus in Florida and reported 10 deaths.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned all onsite dining at restaurants statewide and the Seminole Tribe has closed its casinos.

DeSantis on Friday also banned all nonemergency medical and dental procedures.

The announcements are the latest coronavirus-related closures affecting a state that is heavily dependent on tourism and consumer spending.

Restaurants are allowed to sell food for take-out and delivery.

At the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Casino near Fort Lauderdale, the mood was somber Friday as the often packed gambling den was less than half full.

Half the slot machines were closed to promote social distancing and some players wore gloves.

Click here to watch live, in-depth coronavirus coverage on Channel 9 Eyewitness News, and click here to read a full wrapup of Friday’s coronavirus coverage.

The Associated Press contributed to these reports.