Editor's Note: This article was published at 12 p.m. on March 2, 2020.
The Florida Department of Health announced the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state on Sunday night, in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.
The patients are under medical care, the health department said, and the presumptive diagnosis means the results are awaiting confirmation from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
The health department on Sunday released several reminders of how the disease can be contracted, and steps that can be taken to help prevent its spread.
How it is spread: Through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when a person coughs or sneezes. It can be contracted if someone touches an object or surface where those droplets landed, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Symptoms: Fever, cough and shortness of breath, appearing anywhere between two and 14 days after exposure.
Most susceptible to serious illness: The elderly and those with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes.
Will facemasks help? Officials say they won’t help prevent healthy people from contracting the disease. Rather, those showing symptoms should wear them, to prevent the spread of disease.
STEPS TO HELP PREVENT SPREAD:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when sick and avoid contact with those in poor health
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue
- Wash 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
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
CDC officials also recommend that those who have returned from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan or other areas where a travel advisory has been issued, and is experiencing respiratory issues, to seek medical attention. The same goes for anyone who has come in contact with a person who recently returned from one of those areas, and who is showing these symptoms.
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