Last Updated: Saturday, 10:53 a.m.
Coronavirus cases have jumped to 64 as of early Saturday morning, from just 21 two days ago, according to the Florida Department of Health, with nine cases in Florida unrelated to travel and 16 cases whose origins are still under investigation. Four Floridians have died from Covid-19, one of them in California.
The origin of 13 of the 25 new cases announced overnight is “currently unclear,” meaning it’s not yet known whether the patient contracted the virus from travel or from contact with someone who had traveled. The determination is key. It’s the difference between cases that can be traced to known travel-related causes as opposed to “community spread,” which is far more difficult to contain once it has a foothold.
The average age of the individuals behind the 25 new Florida cases is 47, including two 19 year olds, two 20 year olds and one 22 year old, all in Broward County. The health department says four of the five cases are “associated with travel to Europe.” The origin of the case involving a 22 year old woman is “unclear.” The oldest persons in the cases announced overnight are a 77-year-old woman in Miami Dade and an 83-year-old woman in Broward. The origin of infection for both is unclear.
The overnight cases also include another in Volusia, that of a 29-year-old man “associated with close contact with a traveler,” bringing Volusia’s total to four. (Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood says 20 individuals are under observation for potential infection in the county.)
Cases have tended to emerge first in population center. St. Johns, Alachua and Clay to the north and west of Flagler have all reported cases. Flagler remains without a reported case so far. That does not mean that there are no cases locally: only that they have either not been diagnosed or not been reported. It would be illegal for a physician or a health care institution to know of a local case and not report it to the Flagler Department of Health. On the other hand, the department is not releasing information–such as how many people are under observation or how many people have actually been tested.
In all, the state health department is reporting 70 cases involving Floridians, six of whom were diagnosed outside the state. Seven individuals were diagnosed in Florida but are non-Florida residents, and so are not included in the state’s tally. So far, three Florida residents have died, including a 68-year-old Orange County resident who was diagnosed in California, and who had traveled to South Korea.
By Saturday morning the coronavirus pandemic had recorded 150,000 cases worldwide, 5,616 deaths and 73,730 cases of full recovery. Of the remaining 70,600 active cases, 92 percent were categorized as mild, 5,686, or 8 percent, as serious or critical. The United States had recorded 2,340 cases and 50 deaths in 49 states. The virus is affecting 149 nations.
The postponement of events, the closure of schools and businesses and the caution against gatherings of large numbers of people in Flagler and elsewhere are all intended to reduce the risk of community spread, and with it reduce the risk of overwhelming local health care facilities’ capacities to care for those who are gravely affected by the virus. (See the Centers for Disease Control’s mitigation strategies for local communities, which calls for cancelling gatherings of 250 people or more, not 1,000 people, as the governor had recommended.) Based on data from regions that have experienced substantial number of cases, about 80 percent of those infected show mild symptoms and can care for themselves at home. But about 15 percent have serious symptoms that require hospitalization, and 5 percent require critical care. As with most coronavirus-related numbers, those numbers may change as more becomes known about the virus.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday imposed the strictest virus-related orders so far, prohibiting visitations at a long-term care facility in Broward and calling himself prepared to activate the National Guard. On Friday he said he ordered 2,500 testing kits to deal with an anticipated “surge” of people demanding to be tested. Each kit can test up to 250 people, for a total of 625,000.
But health care facilities were imposing their own restrictions or requirements as well. Virus-related measures were announced Friday at all AdventHealth facilities, including AdventHealth Palm Coast. The new measures are effective March 16 for inpatients, outpatient labs and imaging centers, and March 18 for Centra Care and physician practices. They are as follows:
- Everyone visiting AdventHealth facilities, including outside vendors, will be screened each time they enter the facility. If any of the screening identifies a symptom of concern, the visitor will not be allowed to enter the hospital until testing would confirm they do not have COVID-19.
- Visitors who are sick are asked not to visit patients or enter the facility unless they are seeking personal medical care.
- Children under the age of 12 are prohibited from visiting a facility unless they are seeking care. We continue to provide pediatric care; this policy applies to visitors only.
- People who have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 are not allowed to enter the facility as a visitor.
- All visitors must wash their hands or use alcohol hand sanitizer before and after leaving patient rooms and the facility.
- For specific information on visitation hours, please call the AdventHealth facility ahead of time as visiting hours may change.
“AdventHealth leaders have been planning for and continue to be prepared for a patient with coronavirus,” an AdventHealth statement released Friday said. These preparations include educating physicians and clinical teams on the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Department of Health, the screening noted above, working with vendors and internal teams to ensure adequate supplies of masks, protective equipment, wipes and hand sanitizers, and mobilizing a multidisciplinary leadership team working around-the-clock to ensure capacity, supplies, equipment and staffing to handle a potential coronavirus patient or influx of patients. All AdventHealth hospitals are equipped to rapidly identify, isolate and care for a suspected or confirmed coronavirus patient.
“We are working on the shape and scope of that,” DeSantis said. “It’s not just physicians. They have nurses. They have medics. They have a lot of other people who really can help us. We think that if we have National Guard support, they can help augment medical staff shortages, potentially could help expand testing resources, and even potentially (help) setting up field medical clinics if that were needed to be the case.”
While droves of cultural institutions have also cancelled or postponed performances, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra today announced that it would live-stream performances a performance of “Give My Regards to Broadway” on Saturday (March 14) at 8 p.m., and of “Shift: Kennedy Center Bound,” at 8 p.m. on March 20. The livestreams will be available free here.
“The Jacksonville Symphony will join multiple other international orchestras in broadcasting music to the community to help raise spirits during this time,” the orchestra organization said in a statement. “Other orchestras include the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic.”