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A fourth person in Broward County has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the third case that has been traced to Metro Cruise Services, which operates out of Port Everglades, state officials announced early Tuesday morning.
The Florida Department of Health said the new case was a 69-year-old woman in a 1 a.m. news release that also included an advisory extending to anyone experiencing symptoms who has recently traveled through the the bustling port. The health department said those people should contact their healthcare provider or county health department and self-isolate for 14 days.
The three port cases are all “connected to or employed by” Metro Cruise Services, the health department said. Employees of that company at the Broward County port “with any association to these cases” should self-isolate at home while monitoring themselves for symptoms, health officials said.
The state said it was working to contact employees and others who may have come into contact with the three people who tested positive for COVID-19.
On Sunday, Florida health officials announced a third positive COVID-19 test in Broward County, a 67-year-old man, and said two of the cases were connected to Port Everglades, but did not specify Metro Cruise Services. The other two Broward cases, announced late Friday night, involved a 65-year-old man and a 75-year-old man.
That came one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis said that an older male worker who had contact with cruise line passengers at the port tested positive for COVID-19. DeSantis said the man worked “checking people of ships.” A spokeswoman for the port said the man worked to help passengers navigate the port for a contractor hired by cruise lines to provide guidance and greetings to passengers.
On Monday afternoon, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines advising recent cruise passengers to monitor their health for 14 days and immediately self-isolate then contact the appropriate medical professional if they start to feel symptoms.
But even with the heightened focus and constant headlines on cruise ships becoming vectors for the highly contagious novel coronavirus, passengers on cruise lines appeared undeterred just hours before the state made its late Tuesday morning announcement.
That included an 83-year-old South Carolina woman who belonged to one of the most at-risk groups for COVID-19: people above the age of 80. She said nothing was going to stop her from attending her godson’s wedding with 70 other friends and family members in the Cayman Islands this week.
There are now 20 known COVID-19 cases with Florida ties. In addition to the 15 people diagnosed in Florida, five were “repatriated,” or diagnosed and isolated in another state.
As of 9 p.m. Monday, the state said it had received 140 negative test results and that 115 tests were still pending. That means, including the positive cases, the state has run at least 270 novel coronavirus tests since public health labs in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville began testing on Feb. 29.
Florida has a 24/7 hotline set up for people who think they might be suffering from COVID-19. The phone number is 866-779-6121, or you can email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Miami Herald staff writers Taylor Dolven, Alex Harris and David Smiley contributed to this report
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