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The Florida Department of Health is looking into the travel history of a New York man who tested positive for novel coronavirus and recently made a trip to Miami. The state learned about the case from media reports.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday morning announced that the state’s second confirmed case of the respiratory disease novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was a 50-year-old man who works in Manhattan who had recently traveled to Miami-Dade County.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Ferre, said state health officials “immediately contacted” New York state officials “upon learning that an individual who works in Manhattan and has traveled to Miami has tested positive for COVID-19.”
“New York state officials did not alert Florida officials,” Ferre said. “DOH learned of this case when it was reported by the media.”
Cuomo’s comments on the man’s travel history came in the context that he had not recently been to China, where the outbreak originated and is most concentrated. It’s unclear at this point whether the man, who lives in Westchester County, was contagious or showing symptoms when he was in Miami.
Later Tuesday, DeSantis said the state’s health department was working with New York officials on “doing what you do, tracing the contacts and trying to piece those together as part of the investigation.”
“But we didn’t have any knowledge of that prior to that being announced by the press,” he reiterated.
There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida so far, both on the west coast: in Manatee and Hillsborough counties. On Tuesday, a third presumptive positive was announced for the sister of the Hillsborough woman, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had yet to confirm the result.
As of its last update, the state said it was waiting on eight pending testing results and monitoring more than 180 people.
The news of the New York man’s connection to South Florida came a day after state leaders toured Florida reassuring its citizens that health officials were prepared to tackle the highly contagious virus.
At a press conference in Miami on Monday, State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said the Manatee County man was hospitalized for five days before he was first tested for coronavirus, which came after federal health authorities expanded their criteria from those with travel history to affected areas to anyone who presented with severe respiratory symptoms of an unknown origin.
That detail sparked concerns about potential exposure to healthcare workers and others, and DeSantis warned that he anticipated more cases to be announced as testing ramped up across the state. As of Saturday, all three Department of Health labs in Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville had the ability to test for novel coronavirus.
There are simple steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting infected, like frequent handwashing, for more than 20 seconds, and staying home when sick.
Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau reporter Lawrence Mower contributed to this report.
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