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DeSantis: Santa Rosa County Man Tests Presumptive Positive For Coronavirus, First North Florida Case

Ryan Dailey

Florida’s newest likely case of coronavirus is in the Panhandle county of Santa Rosa. Governor Ron DeSantis updated the media on COVID-19, including efforts to bring in testing kits.


Right now, testing for coronavirus, or COVID-19, is only happening in three Florida cities: Jacksonville Tampa, and Miami. But DeSantis says the federal government hopes to change that, as testing kits are expected soon.

“I know they have tens of thousands that will eventually be en route. We don’t have them yet, we’d like to get them, obviously, as soon as possible,” DeSantis told reporters.

The governor says county health departments and other local health providers having their own kits will ease the burden on the state’s three current testing labs.

“The federal government’s doing that, they understand that would make things a lot easier, to get those in all these local areas,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, a new likely case of the virus has shown up in Santa Rosa county in Florida’s Panhandle region. It’s the furthest north in the state a case has been observed.

“We did though, this morning, get another presumptive positive test, for an individual, elderly with severe underlying conditions, in Santa Rosa County. He had been doing international travel,” DeSantis said. “He’s not in shape to fully answer all the questions, so there’s an investigation ongoing.”

As of Thursday, there are two confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and two more that are presumptive positive, including the Panhandle case, which are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The two confirmed cases are in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

DeSantis has also been advised of a Floridian who tested positive for the virus while in Washington state. There have also been five Floridians quarantined abroad:

“We were alerted yesterday there was a Florida resident in Washington state who had tested positive. We have since found out there’s a total of five Florida residents who had been travelling from China, were quarantined per the federal government, and have tested positive,” DeSantis explained. “Now, they’re not going to be released from quarantine until they test negative. So, we don’t anticipate that having any impact on the people actually living in Florida.”

The state is looking into any contact Florida residents have had with people who have travelled to countries where more significant outbreaks have occurred.

“And then there’s investigations going on about all the contacts that people have had,” the Governor said. “And if you’ve had contact with somebody who was in Milan recently, or in China, then we’re recommending the self-isolation.”

DeSantis maintains "the risk to Florida remains low." In the meantime, there’s a push for more respiratory masks to go into production – being spearheaded by the Trump administrations coronavirus czar, Vice President Mike Pence.

“People were concerned about some of these N95 respiratory masks. We have at the Department of Health at the state, a stockpile of over 150,000 of those,” DeSantis said. “The vice president is going to (mask manufacturing company) 3M, I think today, they’re rushing millions of additional masks.”

Nearly 1,000 people in Florida have been "monitored" under the supervision of public health officials. According to the state Department of Health, just under 250 people are being monitored currently.

The Florida Department of Health is publishing daily updates of coronavirus numbers as they develop.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.