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The Florida Roundup

Sore Throat? Fever? Cough? Expert Says It’s Likely Not Coronavirus


If you’re congested, sneezing, and have watery eyes or a sudden fever, you probably shouldn’t worry about the coronavirus. Understandably, anyone with these symptoms would be concerned. If you’re you're obsessing about the pandemic and feeling anxious, experts say it’s important to remember this is spring allergy season. Colds and the flu are common, and items in your home could trigger your allergies.

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So far, fewer than 10 percent of the 28,000 tests conducted in Florida have been positive for COVID-19. On the Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson spoke about the testing results with Marko Predic, UF Health Jacksonville infection preventionist.


Here’s an excerpt of the conversation.

TOM HUDSON: How do you think Florida is doing in responding to the virus? 


MARKO PREDIC: Florida is looking up. Looking at other states, we’re about middle of the road right now, at least at my facility. We are still very prepared for patients. We're taking care of patients both who are suspect COVID-19 patients who are trying to rule out.


We're still taking seeing a regular influx of patients with... broken fingers. We're still able to manage taking care of both. The issue right now is testing. It is still difficult to come by. It's a lengthy process at which we may be holding patients for 24 to 36 hours or more, if we know if they do have it.


So, we're trying to make medical decisions based on tests that take quite a bit and trying to get diagnoses that are hard to narrow down based on this testing. So there is still a need for increased testing and increased availability of testing supplies within all hospital facilities.



We have seen testing pick up in Florida, and with that, we have seen the number of confirmed cases increase certainly in the last week. According to the Department of Health, more than 28,000 tests have been conducted across the state, but fewer than 10 percent have been positive. If those who are getting tested have already been screened for the CDC risk factors like traveling to China or Italy or being around people who have or exhibiting a high fever, a dry cough, does that positive test rate below 10 percent seem accurate?  


It does, because even at our facilities around Jacksonville, we're seeing people who screen in, and a lot of them are testing negative. A hospital may test two hundred people who have screened on the CDC and the Department of Health criteria, and we're only getting five or ten positives back. So, it's very possible that we are catching the people we want to test.


We're still in respiratory season, and we still see the regular coronavirus, flu, rhinovirus, other viral illnesses that can explain a lot of these symptoms. So that's not that surprising because we still are killing off from our regular respiratory season.


And what about the practicality of the kind of test that's being utilized most frequently here in Florida? The World Health Organization recommends two upper respiratory and one lower respiratory sample. Is that the kind of testing that's happening? 


In many facilities and as directed by many departments of health, we are only sampling one nasopharyngeal at most of the time we're collecting samples that's due to limited supply. These swabs are getting excessively hard to find to get a quantity that you would need to collect all these samples.


Is that a sample from the nose? 


It's deep in the nose. So, if you've ever had a full flu swab on a stick deep into your nose and it feels like it goes past the normal point, it makes your eyes water, makes you cough or sneeze. That's what we're referring to when we're saying nasopharyngeal.


That's what many hospitals are being guided to collect one of these tests and send it to the state because they are testing all three samples requires more tests, and for every patient, that’s three tests compared to the one they have to run. So, we're trying to get central testing done and trying to do it with as minimal waste of supplies and tests as possible.


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