Three months ago, Floridians were celebrating Valentine’s Day unaware that the novel coronavirus posed any real threat to their lives, or that it was likely already spreading through the state. No one had told them to be worried.
While the public was kept in the dark, top Florida health officials were scrambling to come up with a plan for a crisis they knew was upon them, according to internal Florida Department of Health data and communications obtained by the Miami Herald. The records show that on Feb. 13 DOH assembled an emergency response team. The team’s mission: “Contain the spread of the virus.” It also began preparing for N95 mask shortages and privately providing pandemic protocols to long-term care facilities, warning them about the risks the virus posed to elderly residents.
By mid-February, Raul Pino, the recently appointed director of the Orange County Department of Health, was growing concerned about COVID-19 overwhelming his office. The department was stretched thin as it tried to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to monitor people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.