Florida has six new coronavirus cases, one linked to Tampa first-responders conference

One of the new patients attended a first-responders conference in Tampa. Another has become the first case of COVID-19 discovered in Miami-Dade County.
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustration shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which is blamed for a worldwide pandemic that has reached Florida.
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustration shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which is blamed for a worldwide pandemic that has reached Florida. [ AP ]
Published March 12, 2020|Updated March 15, 2020

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said a New York patient had tested positive after attending Daytona Bike Week. But officials now say he never made it to the event. An earlier version also said more than one case has been linked to a Tampa first-responders conference; there is just one known at this time.

Six new cases of coronavirus have been discovered in Florida, and one is linked to a conference of firefighters and paramedics in Tampa.

Three of the new patients were announced by the Department of Health at 9:25 p.m. Wednesday night. Then the state announced another three at 12:21 am. Thursday.

The state gave no explanation as to the timing of the announcements. These are the latest in a series of late night announcements of new coronavirus cases from state officials.

Related: Coronavirus: The day everything in Florida changed

One of the first three cases has a Tampa Bay connection: A 70-year-old Broward County man who attended a conference for first-responders in downtown Tampa last week.

Anyone who attended the event and is now experiencing flu-like symptoms should immediately self-isolate for 14 days and contact their local health department and physician.

Related: Coronavirus impact spreads across Florida as more cases hit Tampa Bay

The latest cases brings the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the state to 29. Here are the six new cases:

• A 70-year-old Broward patient who attended EMS Today, a conference and networking event for firefighters, paramedics, fire chiefs, emergency management officials and medical personnel that was held March 2-6 at the Tampa Convention Center.

The event’s website said that attendees could network with more than 4,600 emergency medical services professionals and more than 200 firms from across the world.

That patient will remain in isolation until he is cleared by health officials. The state said an “epidemiological investigation” has been launched to determine how he contracted the virus.

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• A 63-year old New York man tested positive and has been hospitalized in St. John’s County. The state at first reported that he had attended Daytona Bike Week last week.

But the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Volusia County officials say he had planned to attend but never reached the annual event, which is attended by 500,000 or so. Officials are now investigating how he came in contact with the virus and are retracing his steps.

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The New York Department of Health is handling the “epidemiological investigation” into the transmission of that case. The patient is also in isolation.

• A 56-year old man from Miami-Dade County is the first person to test positive there. His infection was classified as a travel-related case and he was also put in isolation.

House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes told the Times/Herald that Miami-Dade’s first positive case was “to be expected.”

• A 65-year-old man from Broward County has tested positive. He will remain in isolation. Health officials are investigating whether this was a travel-related transmission of the virus.

• A 61-year-old Broward man is considered a travel-related case of coronavirus. State officials believe his case is related to several infections that have been linked to Port Everglades.

• A 57-year-old Lee County man who officials do not yet know how he came to contract COVID-19. Officials said it was “unclear” whether he was a travel-related case. An epidemiological investigation into that case is underway. The patient will also remain in isolation.

Related: Pasco man, 46, says he’s county’s first coronavirus patient

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said the state considers cases to be travel-related when a patient has either gone out of state or been in contact with someone who has left the state and has the virus.

Coronavirus produces symptoms similar to the flu and can cause severe respiratory infections, particularly in people who are older or have chronic health conditions.

The number of cases found in Florida has changed nearly every day since the outbreak was first discovered last week. So far there have been two deaths: A man from Santa Rosa County and a woman from Lee County, both in their 70s and that the state has deemed “travel related.”

More than 126,135 cases have been reported worldwide. Nearly 4,630 people have died.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

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WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

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