On Sunday, March 1, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency in the state of Florida after two “presumptively positive” cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) were found in a man in his 60s in Manatee County and a woman in her 20s in Hillsborough County who had traveled to Italy. One of the individuals with the virus was treated at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. As of Mar. 6, there have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Florida. The other two cases were from young women who had traveled to Italy. There have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
“We know we’ll get through this,” President and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Hospital David Verinder said in a press conference on Mar. 3 with Vern Buchanan.
Public Information Officer of the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH) Steve Huard stated that they are monitoring health trends on a daily basis in case the virus spreads to Sarasota.
“DOH Sarasota is preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 may become a global pandemic and ensuring that local plans, resources and capabilities are in place to respond to a widespread outbreak and lessen the impacts on Florida’s communities,” Huard said.
The Sarasota Memorial Hospital stated that it is following CDC protocols for the virus.
According to Director of Marketing and Communications Anne Comer-Woods, New College is also following these protocols. Program Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center Anne Fisher and Interim Dean of Student Affairs Randy Harrell have been in contact with Sarasota County Emergency Management.
According to Quote Wizards Insurance News, natural disasters have increased by 165 percent in the United States over the last 40 years. Florida ranks as the 39th most prepared state for public health disasters. Some of the largest public health issues tied to the economy are lack of paid-time off to prevent the spread of the disease and uninsured people. Almost three million people in Florida do not have healthcare. Only around 40 percent of Florida’s population received a flu vaccination this year.
“The flu shot is helpful in the sense that, if you got it, you wouldn’t get this [COVID-19] and the flu,” Fisher said. “If you’ve got both at the same time, it’d be a double-whammy because they are two different strains.”
Currently, the CWC does not have any flu vaccinations, but Fisher suggested checking local pharmacies and grocery stores. Fisher also wanted to remind students that February and March are considered part of the annual flu and pollen season and that it would be best for students to get tested at the CWC if they have symptoms, but remember to practice mindfulness and manage their stress levels to promote wellness. Fisher has been in meetings with the
“We do have some students who are immuno-compromised here so we want to be careful about it, but data coming in says that it is the elderly with compromised immune systems that are the most at risk,” Fisher said. “New College is as prepared as it’s going to be”.
On the Campuswide Alerts Page, Metz Dining in Hamilton Center has ordered more sanitization stations and wipes, provided wrapped utensils, sanitized serving stations every 15 minutes and changed tongs at self-serving stations every 30 minutes. The Campus Fitness Center stated that it will undergo extra cleaning. Students were encouraged by Donal O’Shea to follow general flu precaution guidelines and stay home if they were sick. On Mar. 2, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbra Feldman sent an email detailing plans for video-communication if multiple students or a professor is unable to physically attend class. The State University System (SUS) Board of Governors has directed all faculty, staff, and students returning from travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea to self-quarantine for fourteen days and not return to campus for fourteen days after their return. Two students fall under this directive and have complied with it. There have been two official Coronavirus updates at New College on Mar. 2 and Mar. 3. Students who are experiencing symptoms of the virus are encouraged to go to the Care and Wellness Center (CWC) for further testing.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced from the cough or sneeze of an infected person. The distance that these droplets can travel is up to six feet. Wearing a facemask is ineffective for people who do not have the virus and are most needed by infected people and hospital staff working closely with infected people. Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, but the CDC recommended avoiding close contact with sick people, disinfecting public spaces and surfaces, staying home when sick and washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath and may appear between two and 14 days after exposure. On the CDC website for COVID-19, there is a page dedicated to social stigma surrounding the virus that included people of Asian descent, people who have traveled and healthcare professionals.
“We need to show care and empathy for each other, it’s one of the strengths of our community,” Comer-Woods said. “We are facing a challenge, but it’s better to face it as a community than as individuals”.
According to NBC News, at least 15 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have recovered.
The Sarasota Memorial Hospital also has launched a public coronavirus hotline at 941-917-8799.
Information for this article was gathered from https://quotewizard.com/, https://www.tampabay.com/, https://www.cdc.gov/, https://www.nytimes.com/, https://www.nbcmiami.com/, https://www.heraldtribune.com/, https://www.nbcnews.com/