FL officials still silent on potential coronavirus cases; U.S. Sen. Rick Scott weighs in on transparency

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As federal health officials release more updates on confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus in the United States, Florida health authorities have revamped their website to give more information to the public.

However, the state agency has not been informing the public about potential cases in Florida, with officials concerned about a panic.

Those potential cases are important because they could bloom into the full-scale disease.

The Florida Department of Health has recently expanded its website with more information and resources about the virus that originated in China.

What did they add? The state agency updated its coronavirus section by adding a Q&A section, guidance for businesses and health care providers, and advice to people who plan to travel to China.

The Florida Department of Health said: “The Florida Department of Health is actively involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be 2019-nCoV. Epidemiologists will follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for 2019-nCoV to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur.

The Florida Department of Health will communicate regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on 2019-nCoV and other respiratory illnesses.”

As of today, there are 12 confirmed cases of the virus, referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus, in the United States, according to the latest information released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The confirmed cases are in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington state and Wisconsin.

The Florida Phoenix is still waiting on a response from the state health department about “people under investigation,” referred to as PUIs by the CDC. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel previously reported that a patient was tested for the virus at a South Florida hospital recently, but the health department has not provided results.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who represents Florida in the U.S. Senate, sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging for transparency and thanking the Trump administration for “taking proactive steps to combat the threat of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

Scott, a former governor of Florida, also touted his transparency in the handling of the Zika virus in 2016, saying “we took swift action to get out in front of the Zika virus at its emergence internationally, recognizing Florida’s place as a global destination and the need to be prepared and informed.”

“The United States cannot risk an outbreak of Coronavirus, and I encourage your administration to remain as open and transparent as possible,” Scott said in the letter. “We cannot put our citizens at risk, and we must do everything we can to contain any cases.”

Scott also expressed his lack of trust for China officials in responding to the threat.

“I do not trust Communist China to coordinate in a transparent and efficient manner when it comes to combatting the threat of the virus, so we must continue to take every step possible to prevent the spread in the United States,” Scott said.

“Despite unwarranted delay, the World Health Organization has finally declared the Coronavirus to be a global health emergency, which, in addition to your public health declaration, will help make every resource available to contain the disease and keep Americans healthy.”

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.