Gov. DeSantis, V.P. Pence to huddle over coronavirus campaign

Novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is shown here in orange and yellow. COVID mutations are now spreading through the United States. Microphotography by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was to meet in South Florida with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday afternoon to discuss efforts to contain coronavirus, the governor’s office announced.

The meeting was set for 3 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport, according to the governor’s daily schedule. DeSantis’ press office had no immediate reply to a request for detailed information about the meeting agenda.

Pence, appointed by President Trump to lead the national response to the viral threat, was schedule to be in South Florida for a GOP fundraiser, CNN reported. DeSantis was to attend a Club for Growth conference Friday evening.

DeSantis held a news conference in the state Capitol on Thursday seeking to calm public fears about the coronavirus, linked to a disease designated as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, which has killed roughly 2 percent of the people infected.

The governor said no infections have been confirmed yet in Florida, but cited a health confidentiality statue in defending officials’ refusal to detail the number of residents they are monitoring for possible infections.

Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said the Florida Department of Health would post confirmed cases on its website.

Here’s the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

“Imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been reported among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan. On February 25, CDC confirmed COVID-19 in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19 (unknown exposure). At this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.”

Check here for future CDC updates.

Update: Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo issued the following written statement regarding the nonrelease of state data:

“It’s not unusual for Gov. DeSantis to hide information from the public — but this isn’t about protecting the governor’s tainted image, this is about public health and safety. The people of Florida deserve a governor who is not afraid of public scrutiny and transparency. Florida is a top tourist destination and there is a lot at stake for our people and our economy. We demand Gov. DeSantis to interpret the state statute accordingly and share the data to the public and officials.”