Coronavirus in Florida: Newest cases include 6-year-old boy
TO OUR READERS: This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. If you want breaking coronavirus news directly in your inbox, visit your local paper’s newsletter or member page to sign up for the Coronavirus Newsletter.
Nearly 100 new coronavirus cases were reported in Florida overnight with 19 Palm Beach County residents now affected by the virus that has already killed more than 100 people nationwide and seven in the state.
The new cases in Palm Beach County include a 6-year-old boy, the youngest person to be diagnosed statewide. Florida health officials said it is not known how he contracted the virus. One of the infected residents is not currently living in the county.
In addition to the disturbing news that a youngster has COVID-19, the latest numbers released by the Florida Department of Health show that 314 people statewide are now stricken.
That is a more than tenfold increase since March 12 when health officials reported that two people in Palm Beach County and 27 in Florida had the virus.
The virus has now spread to 30 of the state’s 67 counties.
Five women and 14 men are among those infected in Palm Beach County. They range in age from 6 to 76, including a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old man
Three of those infected in Palm Beach County are believed to be a Florida Atlantic University student, a woman in Palm Beach and a man who lives in Majestic Isles, west of Boynton Beach.
The suburban Boynton man isn’t included in the county’s official tally, health officials said. Since he was tested in New York before he boarded a JetBlue flight to Palm Beach International Airport last week, he is considered a New York case, officials said.
Health officials said it is unknown how 10 of the 19 county residents contracted the virus. The other nine people have traveled to coronavirus hot spots, including New York, France, Egypt and Japan, officials said.
Meanwhile, Broward County remains the statewide coronavirus epicenter. The health department reported that 80 people have been infected in Broward County, about 30 more than were reported on Tuesday.
The number of cases in the state’s most populous county, Miami-Dade, exploded overnight, with 76 people infected.
A 77-year-old man died of COVID-19 at Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, state health officials said. Two other recent deaths at the facility were also feared to be caused by the coronavirus.
But, tests showed the virus was not responsible for one of the two other deaths at the facility, a Miami television station reported Wednesday. Test results are pending for the third person, it said.
The possible outbreak at the assisted living facility was particularly concerning to health officials. Since the pandemic began sweeping through the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly talked about a nursing home in Washington state that is linked to 29 deaths.
During his daily news conferences, DeSantis has emphasized the need for frail and elderly people to avoid crowds and take other precautions. He prohibited visitation to elderly care facilities, in hopes of keep residents safe.
He also reminded younger people that they could become “stealth carriers,” and infect those who less robust immune systems. The key to stopping the spread of the virus is to limit contact with others, he has emphasized.
State emergency managers said they are taking steps to prepare for the worst. They have ordered five mobile intensive care units, 5,000 hospital beds and 150,000 N-95 face masks along with other supplies, they said.
Three field hospitals are being deployed. They will be located in Orlando, Broward County and Ocala, said state Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.
In addition, he said, 500,000 collection kits were ordered so more people can be tested. The only drive-through testing center in Palm Beach County on Tuesday announced it couldn’t accept any new appointments because it had run out of test kits.
As of Wednesday morning, 2,593 people in Florida had been tested, health officials said. Of those, 1,225 had tested negative and the results of 954 tests are pending. Another 854 are being monitored.
Two tents were set up outside Boca Raton Regional Hospital to be used to screen patients before they are admitted.
With bars and schools closed and restaurants forced to cut their number of diners in half, Palm Beach County Chief Judge Krista Marx on Wednesday announced that only essential hearings would be held at the county’s five courthouses.
Marx, who has quarantine herself at home for 14 days because she recently returned from a trip to Australia, angered lawyers by allowing the courthouses to remain open even as ones in Broward and Miami-Dade counties were closed.
While the main courthouse, along with those in Palm Beach Gardens, Delray Beach and Belle Glade, will remain open Monday through Thursday, only arraignments, bond hearings and other critical hearing will be held, Marx said in her order. The courthouse at the county jail on Gun Club Road will stay open on Fridays.
She previously had suspended grand jury proceedings and jury trials.
Attorney Marcelo Lescano said the new order addresses many of his concerns.
“Hopefully, internal safety guidelines from the clerk’s office, judges, sheriff’s office, and independent contractors working at the courthouse will provide sufficient safety measures inside the courthouses,” he said in an email.
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.
Coronavirus: What you should do now
Don’t panic! Remember that 80 percent of the cases are mild. The most susceptible are people with weaker immune systems such as the elderly and those with diabetes.
The best thing to do: Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before eating, after going to the bathroom and after sneezing or coughing.
Do not run out and buy face masks. The CDC does not recommend people who are well wear masks. Masks are recommended for sick people to keep infected droplets out of the air, for health care workers and for people caring for a person who is ill.
Cover your mouth when you cough and stay home if you are sick.
More from the CDC can be found here.