Florida reports 2 dead from coronavirus, first known fatalities on East Coast

Two people in Florida who tested positive for the coronavirus died, becoming the first known fatalities outside California and Washington state, health officials reported Friday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order on Sunday directing a public health emergency in the state after it recorded its first positive cases, but now two people, who were both in their 70s and had traveled overseas, have died, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The announcement raises the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus strain to 14, including 11 in the state of Washington and one in California.

one of the Floridian deaths was a man with underlying health issues in Santa Rosa County in Florida’s Panhandle and the other was an elderly person in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area.

As of Saturday morning, eight people in the Sunshine State have tested positive for COVID-19, one of which is a non-resident, officials said.

One of the new cases was only confirmed after the person had died, while two elderly men tested positive Friday in Broward County, ages 65 and 75, both of whom are in isolation, and another case in Lee County was reported Saturday. Five Florida residents who tested positive after traveling to China are also being quarantined.

The risk for those in Florida continues to remain low, authorities say, as most cases have been in Washington state and California, where a cruise ship is being held off the coast after a passenger on a previous trip died and others became infected.

DeSantis asked state lawmakers Friday for $25 million so health officials can use it to combat the coronavirus with lab equipment and staffing, in addition to the expected $27 million in federal aid after President Trump signed an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill, along with $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With spring break season hitting Florida, it is unclear what measures state officials will take, as Miami city officials canceled two large music festivals over fears of the new virus spreading.

Surgeon general say risk of coronavirus remains low, most people will not need hospitalization

The risk of contracting coronavirus remains low for most Americans, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams reassured.

In an interview on “America’s Newsroom” with host Laura Ingle, Adams said that the administration wants the public to know the risk of infection and be prepared, but not to panic in the process.

“What you’re going to hear from the president is what you’ve heard from him all along: that the risk to the average American of coronavirus at this time remains low,” he said. “However, we are seeing pockets in this country of increased cases of coronavirus. And so, we want people to prepare.”

Adams advised that Americans wash their hands frequently, cover a cough or sneeze, clean surfaces, and stay home if sick.

That said, Adams warned that wearing a mask was not just ineffective, it was potentially harmful and may increase the risk of getting the virus.

“We know that masks are not effective for the general public in keeping them safe from coronavirus and may actually increase their risk of getting coronavirus or the flu because if you don’t wear a mask properly you often will end up touching your face frequently and can increase your risk of exposure to a respiratory disease,” he explained.

“When you look at the people who are getting coronavirus, 80 percent of them are not needing to be hospitalized,” Adams continued. “They’re having a mild illness like the cold or like a minor flu.”

“Of the 20 percent who go on to need hospitalization or more medical care, we know that the folks who are most at risk tend to be people who are elderly and people who have medical problems: heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and chemotherapy,” he told Ingle.

“And so, what we want most of America to know is that you’re not at high risk for getting coronavirus, and if you do get it you are likely to recover. Ninety-eight, 99 percent of people are going to fully recover,” Adams said. “And, we want the people who are at-risk…to know that you need to take extra precautions, you need to be extra careful about keeping your hands clean and about social distancing — making sure you’re staying away from large gatherings and people who might be sick.”