Florida up to at least 390 known coronavirus cases; Hernando reports first four

The state’s latest update covers an increase in 72 reported cases since Wednesday night.
A Coronavirus roadside screening checkpoint as vehicles enter the Bay Pines VA Hospital at Bay Pines VA, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd, on Monday, March 16, 2020 in Bay Pines.
A Coronavirus roadside screening checkpoint as vehicles enter the Bay Pines VA Hospital at Bay Pines VA, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd, on Monday, March 16, 2020 in Bay Pines. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published March 19, 2020|Updated March 20, 2020

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Florida health officials Thursday morning reported they are now tracking 390 coronavirus cases. Since early Tuesday, the state’s caseload has more than doubled.

Related: Thursday late update: Tampa Bay’s caseload grows as South Florida shuts down businesses

Experts say the increase might have as much to do with increased testing from hospitals and private providers as the real spread of the disease. Because testing for COVID-19 has been so limited in the United States to date, doctors have not been able to measure the breadth of the pandemic here.

Related: Florida reports 112 new coronavirus cases as governor laments lack of testing

The state reported 46 known cases in the Tampa Bay area. That number appeared to rise a couple of hours later when the health department in Hernando County, which had been listed as having zero coronavirus cases, reported four positive tests.

Hillsborough County has the most cases in Tampa Bay with 19, according to the latest state update, six more than Wednesday morning. The University of South Florida yesterday reported a staff member in its counseling center tested positive for the disease.

Pinellas County has 14 cases, according to the Department of Health, and Pasco County has four. Manatee County has reported another 9; Hernando County has not yet reported any cases. South Florida continues to produce the most reports of people infected with coronavirus, including 96 tied to Broward County and 86 to Miami-Dade.

The figures include residents and visitors tested within the state, as well as a small number of Floridians tested and isolated elsewhere. Eight Floridians have died, including one who was diagnosed out of state. On Thursday, the state confirmed a 48-year-old woman who was taken from Georgia to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, where she died, also tested positive for the disease.

Related: All Pinellas beaches will shut down after Friday night

Health officials say the number of people visiting emergency departments and complaining of coughs or fevers has risen in the last two weeks as the pandemic reached America. Those are two of the main symptoms of the disease, along with shortness of breath.

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State leaders report 2,942 tests had been conducted here so far, and 1,019 are pending, though officials have warned of lag time in updates from hospitals and other private labs.

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