Fl Department of Health scales down coronavirus self-isolation directive to international travelers

Tampa International Airport and others in Florida had been screening arriving passengers for the new coronavirus. Credit: Tampa Airport website

The Florida Department of Health clarified Monday that only travelers arriving in Florida from the areas abroad most afflicted from the new coronavirus should self-isolate for 14 days.

This came around two hours after the agency issued a directive ordering anyone arriving from anywhere overseas to hole up.

The initial release, issued at 11:56 a.m., said this: “The Florida Department of Health is advising all individuals who have traveled internationally to self-isolate for 14 days following their date of return to the United States.”

Alarming, perhaps, in a state that depends heavily on international visitors, and where many relatives have strong overseas family and business ties. Miami International Airport alone welcomed more than 1 million overseas arrivals during December.

However, a subsequent “update” at 2:05 p.m. declared that it is “mandatory” for Floridians to instead follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which call for self-isolation and “social distancing” for people arriving from China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.

“Social distancing includes avoiding going out in public and close personal interactions. If you become symptomatic, immediately self-isolate and contact your county health department or health care provider,” the guidelines say.

People arriving from areas with “sustained community transmission” like Japan or disembarking from sea cruises should monitor their health and limit interactions with other people for 14 days, self-isolating only if symptoms develop, the CDC says.