Central Florida airports, schools prepare for possible coronavirus

Officials at Orlando International Airport have met with leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how the airport will respond to an international health scare, in preparation for a possible coronavirus outbreak. 

OIA is increasing the airport cleaning schedule and bringing in extra protective equipment for first responders. The airport is also planning on how to deal with potential patients that could be on airplanes. 

There are currently 11 airports around the country where flights from China are being routed and passengers are being screened.  None of those airports are in Florida. 

Governor Ron DeSantis also addressed the coronavirus concerns on Thursday saying the state is in preparation mode.

"As of right now, given that we have no infections, the CDC considers us to be low risk. But that doesn't mean you don't wait to plan for any potential transmissions," he said.

The state has set up a web page for the coronavirus, telling you what you need to know if you plan to travel.  It also offers guides for local businesses and health care providers on responding to the coronavirus.  

FOX 35 News has been going county by county, asking officials how they are preparing for the possibility of coronavirus hitting their area.

"We do have a pandemic management plan in case one would become necessary. We also have procedures in place to address any academic disruptions should there be a large scale outbreak," said Katherine Allen with Brevard County Public Schools.

"When it comes to the possibility of early dismissals or closures, we will take our direction from the Department of Health and the Office of Emergency Management here in Lake," said Sherri Owens with Lake County Public Schools. "We are working closely with those agencies and other community partners to keep our community informed and to make sure our plans reflect the recommendations from health professionals."

"We regularly encourage our students and employees to wash their hands, cover their coughs, and stay home if they feel ill.  Normal protocol for students with fevers higher than 100.5 requires they remain at home until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.  We provide hand sanitizer in all classrooms and bathroom areas, and our custodial crews can conduct a 'hard clean/decontamination' should that be necessary in any of our schools," said Kevin Christian with Marion County Public Schools. "I’m certain our past crisis plans for SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and other health concerns will play strong parts in our finalized plan for the coronavirus.  In fact, we are meeting with representatives from both agencies previously mentioned to fortify our plan." 

Orange County Public Schools is monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and working with key partners as necessary. 

"As with all public health issues, will take direction from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We encourage people to take everyday preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases," said Michael Ollendorff with Orange County Public Schools.

In Osceola County, officials are in regular communication with Osceola County Emergency Management and the Florida Department of Health.

"Parents and students are asked to take some common-sense precautions that apply to many infectious diseases, like the flu. The most important are having students stay home from school if they are sick, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water," said Dr. Debra Pace, Superintendent of Osceola County Public Schools. "Be assured that the district will follow recommendations from county and state health officials in the event school closures are necessary." 

The Volusia County School District has been in contact with the Volusia County Health Department and the Volusia County Emergency Management regarding the Coronavirus.

"As with any contagious illness, parents, students and staff are asked to stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza, to others in the community," said Frank FitzGerald with Volusia County Public Schools. "Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Wash hands frequently to lessen the spread of respiratory illness. People experiencing cough, fever and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and vomiting, should contact their physician."