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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

Floridians Dealing with COVID-19 On A Larger Scale

Florida Department of Health

Gov. Ron DeSantis was back before the media Sunday, with the latest on COVID-19 and the inroads it’s making into Florida.

As of late Sunday, Florida's confirmed cases of new COVID-19 jumped by 39, reaching 100 total as testing expands and the results become known. According to the Florida Department of Health, 16 of the new cases are in Broward County -- the state's epicenter for the disease --with 36 confirmed infections; and four people have died -- the latest a 77-year-old man in Lee County.

“We are going to be engaging in a public-private partnership with the Memorial Health Care System in Broward and the Florida National Guard, to set up a drive-through testing operation," said DeSantis.

Speaking at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, the Governor said more than 170 National Guard troops already are in that county, with several hundred more coming in this week.

“Because we’ve had more cases in Broward than anywhere else, we want to be able to supplement the health care system there,” said the Governor. “I will say that this had been tried in some other states; Colorado tried it, they had to shut it down. There have been problems in some other ways. So we want to do it in a way that’s going to make an impact.”

The drive-throughs, says the Governor, are going to be a convenient way for a “subset” of the population to be tested.

“We’re going to have that ‘firm guidance’ come out when these things open up,” DeSantis said. “Clearly the folks who are elderly, that have symptoms, that have an underlying medical condition, we want to have the easiest way possible to test. And if need be, to get treatment or to self-isolate.”

“Stores are putting in limitations of supplies; please adhere to those limitations. We are not seeing any supply chain issues – the stores are constantly re-stocking,” said Florida emergency director Jared Moskowitz, addressing reports of stores being cleaned out of certain items – such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

Coronavirus is not the same thing as a hurricane, he says.

“You do not need to fill up your bathtub with water; you do not need to go out and buy tons of bottled water or canned goods,” Moskowitz said. “There is no anticipation of power going out, or boiled water issues. So you can buy regular goods for your refrigerator and your freezer like you would on a normal day.” 

Credit Jennie McKekn / WUWF
Empty shelves in Navarre Walmart Saturday night. Officials say hoarding essential items, like toilet paper, is unnecessary.

So-called “social distancing” is another vital method, says Moskowitz and other state officials, in helping to limit the scope of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“I know you want to go see your loved one, your grandparent or your parent; but at the end of the day, you could save their life potentially by not going to see them,” said Moskowitz. “If there are large events that don’t get cancelled, that doesn’t mean you have to go. Please – stay away from large events that may not get cancelled.”

“I want to continue to emphasize that individuals know what COVID-19 is; this is a respiratory virus that hits the lungs,” said Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida’s Surgeon General, who provided a refresher course on the disease.

“Seventy percent of the time people with COVID-19 are going to have a fever and a dry cough,” said Rivkees. “About 30% of the time, individuals are going to feel tired and produce sputum. About 15% of the time, people may have shortness of breath, headaches and a sore throat; and in a small percentage some individuals may have a runny nose or diarrhea.”

Any Floridians returning from an international destination where COVID-19 is present, from a cruise, or from anywhere in the U.S. where the disease is prominent in the past two weeks, Rivkees has an urgent request.

“Please practice social distancing; avoid being around the elderly, avoid being in large crowds,” said Rivkees. “And most of all, if you find yourself becoming ill, self-isolate at that point and seek medical attention if needed.”

The disease could peak – could peak – in six to eight weeks weeks according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the President's Coronavirus Task Force.

“Americans should be prepared, that they’re going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Fauci said.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Fauci said with COVID-19, it’s best to be “ahead of the curve.”

“The golden rule I say is that, ‘When you think you’re doing too much, you’re probably doing enough, or not enough,’” said Fauci. “That’s the thing you want to do. You don’t want to be complacent; you always want to be ahead of the curve. I like to be criticized; when I say ‘oh, you’re being too over-reactive – that’s good.”

And an update to a story from last week – the Southern Professional Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season due to coronavirus. The league’s board of governors voting unanimously on Sunday, three days after play was suspended.