COVID – 19 in Florida

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Precautions and Prevention

Earlier this week Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health announced the first cases of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Florida and held a news conference with state health officials to reassure residents that the risk remains low and discuss the state’s preparations for COVID – 19. On Wednesday, DeSantis emphasized again that the risks in Florida remain low, but people should continue to take commons sense precautions, including frequent hand washing, not touching their face and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick.

The Florida Department of Health in a written communication about the virus shared the following:

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from the COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. “There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As a reminder, the Department always recommends everyday preventive actions to help impede the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; (If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty) and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and any other destination under CDC travel advisory should call their health care provider and local county health department (CHD) and mention their recent travel or close contact.

If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, they should call ahead to a health care professional and the county health department. The health care professional will work with the Department of Health to determine if the person should be tested for COVID-19.

Please visit the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage at www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19. This remains the best and most up-to-date resource for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121 or emailing COVID-19@flhealth.gov. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. 

To locate the Lee County Health Department, visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/all-county-locations.html

The CDC also has a website with information related to COVID-19 including proper handwashing techniques: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Lee Health COVID – 19 Website

Lee Health’s Public Health Awareness webpage has been updated to provide the Southwest Florida community with the latest updates on COVID-19 and how they can help prevent the spread of the virus. The webpage can be accessed directly at: www.leehealth.org/public-health.

The webpage contains vital information for the community, including sections on the basics of COVID-19, prevention, Lee Health’s preparedness and important updates from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). The webpage aims to clear up the many misconceptions about COVID-19 while also providing the most up-to-date information.

“Lee Health is ready should COVID-19 make its way to our community, and we are prepared to treat any patients suspected of exposure to the virus,” said K. Alex Daneshmand, D.O., MBA, chief quality and patient safety officer for Lee Health. “From the best way to protect against the spread of disease to misconceptions about the proper use of a face masks, this webpage is designed to educate the public and direct them to the best possible sources of information.”

Handwashing remains both the simplest and most effective way to curb the spread of infectious disease.

“We will continuously update our webpage as long as COVID-19 remains a public health threat. Our community is concerned and asking questions, and it is our duty to keep everyone informed with the latest information,” said Daneshmand.