Zero to nearly 200 cases in two weeks: How the coronavirus has grown in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that 192 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state.

Thus far, five people have died in Florida. The latest reported deaths are an Orange County woman in her 70s and a patient in Broward County.

“If you look around the state of Florida, this is not uniform in terms of where the virus is percolating,” the governor said during a news conference.

It was on March 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that one person in Hillsborough County, identified as a 20-year-old woman, and one person in Manatee County, identified as a 60-year-old man, tested positive for coronavirus -- the first cases in the state of Florida.

Since then, the numbers have grown to nearly 200 in Florida. The Florida Department of Health says there are 5,613 cases in the country. In Florida, they are monitoring 558 as of Tuesday afternoon.

The spread of the coronavirus prompted the governor to close all bars and nightclubs statewide for 30 days. The closure begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

The decision comes on St. Patrick’s Day, when bars are usually packed in celebration. The governor said Tuesday morning, despite the "social distancing" recommendation by the CDC and White House, Florida officials noticed there are still large groups of people congregating at bars.

Also on Tuesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that all establishments that sell alcohol for on-site consumption are banned from doing so until March 31. The ban includes restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and bars.

RELATED: Florida closing bars, nightclubs for 30 days; issues sweeping changes for restaurants, beaches

"This applies to bars, it applies nightclubs, it applies to restaurants, it applies to hotels. Anywhere that alcohol is typically consumed," Dyer said. "This is a rapidly changing situation, it changes daily and almost hourly. We encourage you to remain informed and responsible." 


The ban does not apply to stores where alcohol is sold and not to be consumed on the premises.

At the urging of federal health officials, President Donald Trump on Monday issued guidelines that calling on Americans to avoid gathering of more than 10 people.

DeSantis said his administration was taking the new guidelines under advisement and could issue its own guidelines as soon as Tuesday.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Monday that he is limiting crowd capacity of recreational and social gatherings and establishments to 50 people. This includes shopping malls, restaurants, bars, churches and movie theaters. Office buildings, manufacturing plants, grocery stores and many other businesses are exempt from the limit.

Two of Florida's largest theme parks — Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando — announced they would shutter hotels and other entertainment venues because of growing concern over the new strain of coronavirus.

RELATED: Orlando restaurants, bars banned from selling alcohol

Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement that it would close its popular CityWalk, filled with restaurants, shops and movie theaters, at midnight, and close all hotels at 5 p.m. Friday. It said the closures would extend through the end of the month.

In a tweet, Walt Disney World also announced that its hotels and the Disney Springs entertainment district also would close at 5 p.m. Friday to give guests time to arrange other accommodations.

The company said all Disney stores nationwide would close Tuesday, including Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California. To help contain the spread of the disease, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens closed on Sunday night for at least two weeks.

World Wrestling Entertainment announced Monday that Wrestlemania 36 will go ahead as scheduled, but the event will be moved from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium in Tampa, which seats more than 65,000, to a WWE training facility in Orlando without spectators. The professional wrestling company’s signature annual event can be viewed on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view.

Also on Monday, the state unveiled a new online dashboard that provides the public with a clearer picture of where the virus has hit. The COVID-19 surveillance dashboard provides a color-coded map that shows the intensity of infections across the state.

A drive-thru testing facility was expected to open soon at a hospital in the state’s hardest hit county, Broward, in South Florida, DeSantis announced on Sunday.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis calls for Florida universities to do online classes through rest of spring semester

More than 170 National Guard personnel have deployed in the county, and 300 additional Guard members were soon to be activated to help with the testing. State officials said they also were preparing to set up mobile hospitals to help the state’s hospitals with testing if needed. The tests will be free to patients, DeSantis said.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but older adults and those with existing health problems can develop severe complications, including pneumonia. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.