The state of Florida has purchased 2,500 commercially available testing kits to increase the state’s testing capacity against the novel coronavirus, said Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday. The purchased kits would allow healthcare facilities and labs all over Florida to test 625,000 people for the pandemic currently taking the world by storm. However, DeSantis also expressed concern over the potential supply shortage of swab tools used by healthcare providers to collect samples needed for the test kits.
“If hospitals can do this in their own labs, the turnaround could be quicker and they would be able to make better use of their resources here in their healthcare facilities,” DeSantis said. “Many labs do have some supply, but our capacity … is really dependent on how much of the materials are available or can be brought into the state
As of writing, the state of Florida has 41 positive cases of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with only two virus-related fatalities. In recent weeks, healthcare practitioners at Jackson Memorial Hospital were “begging” the state’s Department of Health to allow them to run tests for COVID-19.
However, getting the test results would take at least 24 hours, even in the state’s own public health labs. Local officials consider the lack of widespread testing in the Miami area as a major concern. According to a report by the Miami Herald, Florida’s Health Department is the primary authority on coronavirus testing, meaning that they control who can be tested and will only approve testing for certain subsets of people.
Before the issuance of new guidance this week, the testing for coronavirus in Florida has been restricted to only those with known travel history to affected areas around the world or people who have come into contact with confirmed cases. On Monday, this testing has been expanded to include those patients hospitalized with unexplained shortness of breath.
As of writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there are a total of 1,215 cases in the United States. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads throughout the country, many cities and states are scrambling to apply safety precautions that could help quell the spread of the virus. (Related: Washington county of 2.2 million recommends ALL employees work from home as New York also declares state of emergency over coronavirus.)
In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker recently announced a state of emergency in a news conference on Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases in the state rise to a staggering 108 total confirmed cases — the fourth-highest number of cases in the country. Baker urged all employers in the state to limit or even eliminate non-essential travel and to establish a prohibition on large events wherever possible. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston was also canceled due to health concerns, with the city mayor claiming it “is needed to keep the residents of Boston safe and healthy.”
In Colorado, Denver City Mayor Michael Hancock also declared a local state of emergency, The Denver Post reported. While the declaration is in effect, Hancock said that large gatherings in the city are heavily discouraged to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Emergency Management spokesperson Loa Esquilin-Garcia said that while the declaration expires on March 19, it might make additional emergency resources available for use to city crew members.
Virginia also joins the slew of states that have recently declared a state of emergency as public school districts started to close down due to the rising number of cases among Virginians. For the next 30 days, all forms of state conferences and large events shall be canceled, and private organizers and local governments throughout the state are expected to follow suit.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be put in isolation for two weeks after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, has tested positive for COVID-19, CNBC reported. Gregoire Trudeau recently returned from a trip to London and started experiencing flu-like symptoms. Health officials are currently reaching out for those who were in contact with the Prime Minister’s wife during her trip.
As for the Prime Minister himself, Communications Director Cameron Ahmad tweeted a statement saying that Trudeau is in “good health with no symptoms.” However, he will still need to go into isolation for 14 days as a precautionary method, as directed by health officials.
Update on Sophie & the Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/EkJL5rWGUN
— Cameron Ahmad (@CameronAhmad) March 13, 2020
Ahmad also shared a personal statement by Gregoire Trudeau, where she thanked people for reaching out to her and said that while she is experiencing “uncomfortable symptoms of the virus,” she would get better sooner or later. In addition, she noted that other Canadian families and patients could be facing more serious concerns.
Personal message from Sophie. pic.twitter.com/rXVilM6dxH
— Cameron Ahmad (@CameronAhmad) March 13, 2020
As of Thursday, Canada has 117 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, according to data by the Infection Prevention and Control Canada. The coronavirus outbreak, which has afflicted at more than 121,000 people worldwide, has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.