Late Sunday night, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a statewide health emergency after two individuals tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), the governor signed the order after two adults — one located in Hillsborough County and the other in Manatee County — tested “presumptive positive” for the worldwide epidemic.
“I have been working with federal partners and our Department of Health to ensure that communities are ready to handle the challenges presented by COVID-19,” DeSantis said in a press release following the announcement. “The dedicated professionals at our county health departments, as well as those working at local medical providers, are well equipped to address these and future cases. State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees has taken appropriate, decisive action to help affect the best possible outcomes, and I will continue directing our state agencies to do whatever is necessary to prioritize the health and well-being of Florida residents.”
“Our epidemiological teams are among the best in the nation, and they are right now aggressively pursuing every potential lead during these critical early moments of this outbreak in Florida,” added Dr. Scott Rivkees.
DeSantis’ announcement comes as fear for the pandemic reaches a fever pitch in the U.S.
According to the DOH, the Manatee County patient did not travel to any restricted country identified by the Centers of Disease Control. The person, who has not been named, has sought medical care and is being treated.
The second patient, a resident of Hillsborough County, has a history of travel to Italy. They are also being treated in an isolated setting.
No other details — including the patients’ name, age, location, or condition — has been disclosed.
The outbreak, which has infected more than 80,000 people — the vast majority in China — has dominated the 24-hour news cycle, with concern for the virus reaching America spiraling out of control.
Despite the rare cases in the Sunshine State, the DOH stated that the overall immediate threat to Floridians remains low.
DeSantis is set to appear in Tampa on Monday to address the state following the recent report.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 2, 2020