Florida releases first coronavirus numbers: No cases, but 4 still being tested

For the first time, the state of Florida has released data about the number of people tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis said yesterday, the state of Florida still has zero confirmed cases of the virus. But we now know that Florida had 15 suspected cases in individuals who came back from China and developed respiratory symptoms.

Those 15 were tested and the results came back negative. 

There are four other suspected cases still under investigation, meaning they are in the process of being tested. 

Aside from that, 700 others in Florida have been monitored for signs of the virus, which include flu-like symptoms. Currently 150 people are still being monitored, getting regular visits from doctors.

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Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, the government’s new point man on coronavirus, arrived Friday evening in Sarasota, where he'll be speaking at a fundraising dinner.  But earlier in the day, he was in West Palm Beach, discussing virus preps with Gov. DeSantis.

The governor kicked off the meeting by asking for coronavirus testing kits -- which Florida currently does not have -- to cut down on the turnaround time for test results from the CDC in Atlanta.  

"I told the vice president, the testing; we’ve been able to manage it. Everything goes to the CDC and back, but to the extent this becomes more of a problem, we want to do local testing and I know they’re working on that,” DeSantis said.

The governor also said the state has stockpiled some masks, goggles, and gowns, but told the vice president the state may need more. And if the virus spreads into Florida, he said, the state may need federal help in compensating people it quarantines for lost income. 

Pence said the federal government would tend to the governor's requests. 
“I can assure you we are going to work very closely with Florida,” he insisted. "We’re going to make sure states like Florida, and your local health officials, have the resources to be prepared for any eventuality.  And in the event this spreads more broadly, states will are able to be compensated for your efforts.”

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After the meeting, DeSantis said he expects the feds to give Florida the testing equipment it needs.  He hopes to soon start running coronavirus testing facilities in three cities -- Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa.