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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Mar. 9, 2020 1 month ago

First presumptive coronavirus case identified in Volusia, officials monitoring situation

'This is what we prepare for in public health' said FDOH Administrator Patricia Boswell.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

With two presumptive cases of coronavirus in Volusia County, the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County is continuing to raise awareness to reduce the potential spread and impact of the disease, of which has affected 647 people in 36 states and the District of Columbia as of March 10.

A total of 25 people have died; two of those deaths occurred in Florida.

“This is what we prepare for in public health," said FDOH Administrator Patricia Boswell to a room full of officials during the Roundtable of Volusia County Elected Officials meeting on Monday, March 9. 

The Volusia cases have been identified as a 66-year-old woman and a 60-year-old woman, both who are currently in isolation and have recently traveled internationally. When asked what city in Volusia the first woman resided in, Boswell said only the gender, age and county are being provided to the public. 

“That level of privacy is practiced very often in public health when there’s cases like this," Boswell said.

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was first detected in Wuhan, China, with a link to a seafood and live animal market, suggesting it spread from an animal to a person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. It has now been detected in almost 100 countries. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and coughing, and may appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

A novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019, the CDC reported. Illustration courtesy of the CDC

The CDC states COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person at this point through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, like the flu. 

Boswell said a total of 319 people are currently self-monitoring for coronavirus in Florida, and 222 have tested negative. Another 115 are currently awaiting test results. There are 19 people with COVID-19 in Florida.

FDOH Administrator Patricia Boswell. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

"In Florida the risk is low, but as more cases are identified, again it's changing," Boswell said. "The situation is evolving every day."

Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge said the county has been in communication with the state. There have been no cluster of COVID-19 cases unrelated to international travel, Judge said, and if that happens, the county will look into other public information avenues.

For now, residents who believe they could have coronavirus can call 911, where the county's nurse triage program will evaluate them over the phone. If necessary, FDOH will then issue testing for coronavirus on the concerned individual. 

No one has been placed in quarantine; rather, people who believe they could be infected have voluntarily isolated themselves. 

“There’s been no need to quarantine anyone," Boswell said. "We would only use quarantine in the event that somebody is not going to cooperate.”

With no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, FDOH recommends:

  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • staying at home if sick
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then disposing of it.
  • washing your hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.
  • when soap and water isn't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

For any other questions on COVID-19, contact FDOH's dedicated COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121 or by emailing [email protected]. The Call Center is available 24/7. 

AdventHealth has also launched a free phone service for residents who have questions about the coronavirus, and offer the opportunity to speak with a nurse as appropriate, a press release reads. You can reach the information line at 877-VIRUSHQ, and is available 24/7/

This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, with current data.

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