The state Department of Health has confirmed that Florida is one of the select states issued kits to test people for the deadly coronavirus.
Florida health officials told the Florida Phoenix on Friday that the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had sent the kits, though Florida has not had any confirmed cases of the mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory disease.
The state health department won’t use the kits to test potential patients until they are cleared by the CDC. That may be due to state laboratories reporting issues with the tests such as results coming back as “inconclusive,” according to the CDC.
“The department has received the test kits from the CDC, however, at the CDC’s direction, has not implemented the test kits at this time,” said Alberto Moscoso, communications director at the Florida Department of Health.
The CDC held a press call earlier this week to address the problems with the test kits used to diagnose the China-born illness, which can screen 700-800 patient specimens.
“CDC is currently doing all the testing for COVID-19 and have reported that it takes approximately 3-5 days to obtain results. The CDC can provide more information on their testing procedures,” Moscoso added.
Thursday, federal officials announced a 15th case of the virus — in Texas — with the new name — COVID-19 — given by the World Health Organization.
As of today, the seven states with confirmed cases are Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington state and Wisconsin.
Florida officials also are concerned about potential scammers that try to take advantage of people during a time of high level anxiety surrounding the pandemic.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to warn consumers of fraudulent schemes.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a written statement: “We have zero tolerance for sham charities and scams attempting to take advantage of Floridians – especially with public concern over coronavirus at high levels.
As the state agency responsible for regulating charities, and as Florida’s consumer clearinghouse, we’re here to ensure your charitable donations go towards their intended purpose – not into the pockets of scammers.”
The state agency said that some tactics used by scammers include “misleading emails and posts promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, United is among the major airlines that have suspended U.S. flights to China in response to the global pandemic.
The airline issued an alert through its website: “After evaluating our operations between the U.S. and Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Shanghai, we’ve decided to suspend those flights until April 24. We’ve also suspended ticket sales for MileagePlus Award travel and flights between the U.S. and China on our partner airlines until April 24.”
The Florida Phoenix earlier wrote that Delta and American airlines had alerted consumers to similar travel suspensions.