Coronavirus in Florida

What You Need To Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly across the US. Here are few highlights to know, from symptoms to how to protect yourself.

How is coronavirus spread? 

The virus is spreading rapidly from person to person, and scientists are still learning more about how it spreads. According to the CDC, the virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets, much like the common cold or flu.

What precautions can you take?

The CDC warns that there is currently no vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus. In that case, there are some steps you can take to avoid being exposed to the virus in the first place. 

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Coronavirus symptoms

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some people don’t have any symptoms at all. The most common symptoms resemble the flu and include fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some people also develop aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

About 1 in 6 people becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organization. If you experience fever, cough and shortness of breath, call your doctor.

What shoulld you do if you are sick?

Stay home. If you believe you have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, it is crucial that you restrict any activity outside and call a medical professional immediately. 

Officials say not to go to the hospital or urgent care if you believe you are sick. Contact your county department of health if you:

  • Develop symptoms after traveling to a place the CDC has issued a level 2 or 3 health notice (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan);
  • Develop symptoms after coming in contact with someone who has traveled to those areas;
  • Develop symptoms after coming in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

A person who is tested will have three specimens taken: Oral, nasal, and saliva. The samples will be given to the county health department, which will then either ship or deliver them to the closest laboratory. Test results are currently available within 24-48 hours. Tests do not have a cost to the patient.

It is important to call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider so that their office may take proper steps to avoid further spread of the virus when arriving for your medical appointment. 

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Cases have been confirmed in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin, according to Johns Hopkins.

Travel restrictions for US citizens

The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel – a level three alert – to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. This does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. Japan is at a level two alert (practice enhanced precautions), and Hong Kong is at a level one watch (practice usual precautions).

Many people have canceled trips abroad amid fears of contracting the virus. Some universities have canceled study abroad programs, and some companies have put a pause on international travel.

Stay informed!

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.