TALLAHASSEE - Two Florida seniors who had traveled abroad have become the state’s first residents to die from the novel coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health announced late Friday.
One of the deaths involved a 72-year-old Santa Rosa County man who had previously been disclosed as having the virus. Though the case was only confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the person had died. The other death involved a Lee County resident, whose case had not been disclosed. The department did not immediately release the Lee County resident’s gender or age, saying the person was “in their seventies.” Both died following international trips.
“We are saddened by the family’s loss and will continue to monitor and take appropriate precautions on behalf of patients, caregivers, and the community,” said a spokesman for Lee Health in Fort Myers.
Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of the hospital systems said a second patient with a presumptive positive test for COVID-19 is also being treated. That patient is in isolation and is receiving appropriate treatment, the hospital spokesman said.
In the announcement late Friday, the department also said two Broward County men had been identified as “presumptive positive” for the contagious virus, known as COVID-19. One of the men is 75 years old, while the other is 65, and both will be in isolation until cleared by public-health officials.
In presumptive positive cases, results have been found positive by state labs, but confirmation is still needed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of Florida-related coronavirus cases has steadily increased, after initial announcements last weekend. The Department of Health website listed 13 positive cases, with seven involving Florida residents in the state, five involving residents out of the state and one non-resident who is in the state.
The state also had 88 pending test results, and 278 people were being monitored, the Department of Health website said late Friday. Another 100 tests had been negative.
Earlier Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had asked state lawmakers for $25 million for health officials to use immediately in the state's response to coronavirus. DeSantis said he expects Florida to receive at least $27 million from the federal government, along with an extra $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to immediately cover costs like lab equipment and staffing.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit South Florida on Saturday to meet with the leaders of the cruise line industry.