Florida Health Department: Call ahead if you suspect symptoms of coronavirus


The Florida Department of Health(FDOH) announced on March 7 a new presumptive positive case of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Florida.

The case is 180 miles from Gainesville. “An 81-year old female in Manatee County has been identified as a presumptive positive. This person is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. She has a history of recent travel outside of the United States,” the FDOH reported and noted that it is “working closely with the patient, potential close contacts of the patient and health care providers to isolate and monitor persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and implement testing of anyone who may develop COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough or shortness of breath.”

The FDOH advises that anyone with symptoms first contact their primary care provider to make arrangements for testing and to not enter a medical urgent care facility or emergency room without first calling ahead so that the staff can prepare to receive the patient by taking precautionary measures to avoid possible exposure to more people.

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According to the FDOH, “COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

At this time, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The FDOH advises that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The Department recommends:

Avoiding close contact with people who are sick; Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health; Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue; Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

Visit the Department's dedicated COVID-19 webpage www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19. This remains the best and most up-to-date resource for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department's dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121 or emailing COVID-19@flhealth.gov. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

In addition, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/all-county-locations.html to locate and obtain contact information for your local CHD.

The CDC also has a website with information related to COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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