Two FL coronavirus deaths; two more positive cases, both in Broward County

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow), also known as 2019-nCoV, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. as it emerges from the surface of cells (in blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, an agency of the National Institutes of Health

Coronavirus cases in Florida have expanded across various regions of the state, with two individuals now dead from the respiratory disease, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The department reported the deaths late Friday, in a news release and a Twitter message.

The update said that a patient in Santa Rosa County, in Florida’s Panhandle, has died, following an international trip. And an individual in his or her seventies died in Lee County, in southwest Florida, also following an international trip.

The department also said that two cases in South Florida’s Broward County have emerged. One is a man who is 75, and is isolated; the other is a man, 65, who also is isolated.

Both men have tested what’s called “presumptive positive” for the disease, but are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The other cases are in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

As of Saturday morning, the Florida Department of Health has reported the two Florida resident deaths and the other positive coronavirus cases: seven Florida residents, five Florida cases repatriated — when the U.S. Department of State officially coordinates the return of a Florida resident to the United States — and one non-Florida resident.

The department data also shows 100 negative test results for the disease and 88 pending results.

In addition, 278 people are under public health monitoring. On March 1, the number was 184, the day Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that two people in Florida had tested positive for the deadly coronavirus and moved to declare a public health emergency in Florida.

Overall, 1,010 people have been monitored to date, according to the department. Public health monitoring includes people at risk of having been exposed and are monitoring their health under the supervision of public health officials.

The virus that launched in China has led to a global epidemic, with deaths and infections across the world, including in the United States. The epidemic has already begun to change American lives, from airline travel to the cruise ship industry and the volatility of the stock market.

More than 20 states have coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times, which is tracking the infections across the nation. (The CDC, has been slower to update the data.)

Meanwhile, getting patients tested has been challenging, as supplies of the testing kits have fallen far short of the need throughout the country, federal authorities have said.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3-billion package to fight the expanding coronavirus epidemic, according to news reports.

The Florida Phoenix wrote earlier that the U.S. House and Senate had approved the package.

It includes money to develop vaccines, grants for state and local public health agencies, loans for small businesses that lose money because of the virus and humanitarian assistance and support for epidemic response in overseas countries.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.