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00000177-b32b-d5f4-a5ff-bbfb6e660000Here is the information you need to know about COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. For inforamtion from Centers for Disease Control and prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirusFor updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.The COVID-19 call center is available at 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

Florida Preps for Coronavirus

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Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM
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Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida is still at "low risk" for coronavirus infection, but officials are preparing for what many health experts say is a matter of when, and not if, the coronavirus affects the Sunshine State.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday in Tallahassee, the Governor said they’re monitoring the rapidly-evolving situation along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

At this point, the Gov. says there are no cases of Covid-19 in Florida, nor is there any evidence of community-based transmission.

“Our response is based upon updated information and guidance from our nation’s top experts in communicable diseases,” said DeSantis. “All levels of government have been engaged in efforts for the coronavirus. We have been working on this since the beginning of January, right after the stuff became known in December.”

While he was open to disclosing the testing information to the public, the Governor said he was advised not to by Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. Instead, DeSantis stressed that no one in Florida has tested positive for coronavirus.

“To this stage, there have still not been any transmissions documented in the state of Florida. If that were to change, then obviously Dr. Rivkees and my administration would want to let people know that ASAP.”

That does not include providing information to the public about whether Florida Residents are among the people in the United States who the CDC reports have been tested for the virus.

The DeSantis administration’s refusal to provide that data has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats, including State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.

“Where, if any, are people self-quarantining and reporting that they are experiencing symptoms? Where are people being tested and how many? Those things are extremely important so that our communities can make adequate preparations.”

“The state of Florida is fully committed to do everything we can to prepare for and respond to Covid-19,” said Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. He says the state will "work with" people who may need to be isolated but still need to earn income. The response strategy, if needed, will have different layers and will vary depending on circumstance.

“If there are individual cases, or linked cases, our strategy will be to give these individuals first, the medical care that they need, and that they are isolated,” said Rivkees. “However, if there are multiple unlinked cases, or there appear to be widespread Covid-19, community strategies will be implemented.”

“Community-based” measures will involve avoiding group activities and group meetings.

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, spread by coughing and sneezing. Prevention, Rivkees says, parallels that of protecting yourself against influenza.

“Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; do not go to work when you are ill,” Rivkees said. “Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after being in public places. If you are ill, take plenty of fluids and control your temperature. For those who are taking medications, make sure you have a supply of your medications at home.”

Besides your health, you also need to protect your wallet from scammers who are trying to cash in on Covid-19.

“We got word through city hall that there might be possible emails coming in, so we decided we wanted to forward that information to be on the lookout for people that want to take advantage of this situation,” said Mike Wood, Public Information Officer at the Pensacola Police Department.

“If you get something in an email and especially if you get something that they’re wanting you to click on – a link – chances are pretty good that it’s something that can infect your computer,” Wood said. “Or it’s a scam where they’re trying to take money. If it’s information coming from a reputable source, they’re not going to do either one of those.”

While the DeSantis administration is encouraging people to obtain flu shots and to get tested for coronavirus if they are worried, it is not providing free access or deferring the costs of those tests.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.