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DeSantis encouraging seniors to stay home

March 25, 2020
Breeze Newspapers staff , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed Florida's Surgeon General, Dr. Rivkees, to issue a public health advisory urging the following:

Persons 65 years or older are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;

Persons with certain underlying medical conditions are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;

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All employers are encouraged to utilize telework; and

Consistent with CDC guidance, all individuals should avoid social gatherings of 10 or more.

The governor also issued an extended Executive Order to require anyone who travels to Florida from New York by any means -- plane, car or what have you-- to "self-isolate" for 14 days or for the duration of their stay in the Sunshine State,, whichever is shorter.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 1,467 positive cases of the new coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 online Dashboard.

A total of 16,046 individuals had been tested to 13,358 testing negative and 1,221 pending. Of those testing positive, 278 required hospitalization. There have been 20 deaths, including a third in Lee County reported Tuesday. As of Wednesday there are 34 positive cases and 16 reported hospitalizations.

What you Should Know

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

* Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;

* Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;

* Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;

* Covering your cough or sneezing into a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;

* Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;

* If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and

* Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

* A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from any other destination with community transmission should call ahead to their health care provider and local CHD and mention their recent travel or close contact.

If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, he or she should call ahead to a health care professional and the CHD. The health care provider will work with the Department to determine if the person should be tested for COVID-19.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health's dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), p visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department's dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to

Actions the state has taken to date to respond to COVID-19:


At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.

Governor DeSantis announced that the State ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the adequate resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. The Governor also suspended non-essential in state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.

Established an Incident Management Team to coordinate response operations.

Defined a high-level phased response strategy for COVID-19.

Activated a dedicated incident command post for on-site response activities.

Conducted three public health and health care stakeholder conference calls to provide statewide updates on the current outbreak situation, response actions and guidance for pandemic planning. Over five hundred participants joined the calls.

Established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2.

Developed and distributed COVID-19 presentation materials to County Health Departments (CHD) for use at community meetings.

Activated the Joint Information Center in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management.

Developed and implemented protocols for investigation, surveillance and monitoring for COVID-19 to rapidly detect and contain cases.

Established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.

Distributed CDC Interim Guidance for public health personnel evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases at their home or non-home residential settings to CHDs.

Approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.

Implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories.

Distributed updated CDC guidance for schools to CHDs and the Department of Education.

Distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.

Developing a laboratory surge plan.

Identifying and monitoring close contacts of presumptive cases. Any close contacts with symptoms will be tested.

Implemented private lab testing.

Developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance.

Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further until further notice.

Developing infographics for first responders (fire, law enforcement and EMS) regarding infection control and personal protection for COVID-19.

At the Governor's direction, a public-private partnership has been put in place between Memorial Healthcare in Broward and the National Guard to set up a mobile testing unit.

At the direction of Governor DeSantis hiring additional epidemiologists from university health programs to help with workload.

Governor DeSantis directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to extend all existing nursing home and assisted living facility licenses for 90 days to remove distraction from patient care.


To support communities responding to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has directed FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz to expedite the delivery of more than $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts that have now reached the 50-percent auditing threshold to receive funds.

After conducting a thorough assessment of needs, Director Moskowitz has requested the following supplies through Direct Federal Assistance. Supplies are being delivered on a rolling basis, and inventory is being distributed throughout the state 24 hours a day.

5 mobile intensive care units

5,000 ventilators

5,000 hospital beds

50,000 two oz. bottles of hand sanitizer

250,000 coveralls

500,000 gloves

500,000 gowns

500,000 collection kits

100,000 16 oz. bottles of hand sanitizers

150,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits, including coveralls, gowns, and goggles

2 million N95 face masks



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