TAMPA, Fla. — A third person in Florida has tested positive for the novel coronavirus spreading across the globe.
- 3rd Florida patient tests presumptively positive for novel coronavirus
- Woman lives with Hillsborough County woman who had traveled to Italy
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The case of COVID-19 is in Hillsborough County and is the second case there. The latest presumptive positive case is the sister of the infected Hillsborough County woman who recently returned from Italy.
The other case is in Manatee County.
Two of the Florida cases have been confirmed, while the third made public Tuesday is awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a tweet by Helen Ferre, the spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, she said the governor “confirms a third presumptive #COVID19 case in Hillsborough; this individual resided with another who is confirmed as COVID-19.”
Florida considers a case presumptively positive based on testing at one of the state’s three labs, then awaits confirmation from the CDC in Atlanta.
On Monday, Florida officials confirmed that two people had been infected with the novel coronavirus. One of the confirmed cases was identified as a man in his 60s from Manatee County who had not been to any of the countries currently identified for restricted travel by federal authorities, nor was he known to have been in contact with anyone who had traveled there.
The second confirmed patient is a woman in her 20s in Hillsborough County who had recently traveled to northern Italy — one of the areas identified for restricted travel due to the virus. The presumptive third case lived with the woman in Hillsborough.
DeSantis and other local officials on Monday said they were expecting more positive cases as more testing was conducted, and their focus was to contain its spread. As of Tuesday afternoon, 16 people in Florida who have been tested for coronavirus exposure were awaiting test results. There were another almost 250 under "public health monitoring," which health officials defined as people under health official watch because they had contact with someone who tested positive, as well as people who have returned from China in the past 14 days.
The governor said his primary concern is the health and safety of infirm and elderly people in nursing homes, and he urged facilities to restrict visitors.
Meanwhile, facilities and organizations in the Bay area that attend to the needs of populations that appear to be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as the elderly, are on high alert.
"It's very much about cleanliness, washing our hands, ensuring the time that we're doing it correctly and doing it right, how often we're doing it," said Nancy Clanton of Meridian Senior Living in Pinellas Park.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg has also taken steps to protect the health of parishoners. Leadership of the diocese has left decisions such as suspending distribution of the chalice during communion or holding hands during services up to individual pastors.
"We don't want to cause panic or go to extremes but we want to be careful. We want to be cautious," said Father Gary Dowsey of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
The spreading virus has placed health officials across the U.S. on high alert.
The absence of a clear protocol for sharing information between states became more apparent Tuesday, as Florida officials expressed irritation that New York health officials did not reach out to alert them about a 50-year-old lawyer who traveled to Miami and later tested positive. Florida officials said they learned about the case through the news media.