SEBRING — The number of cases of COVID-19 in Highlands County has increased to five, according to the Florida Department of Health update at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Due to HIPAA laws, there is very little information made available to the public.
What we do know is the person is a female and has not been hospitalized. The Highlands County Board of County Commission confirmed the five cases as well as the FDOH.
Before Wednesday, there were three women and one male. Wednesday evening, Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard from the Florida Health Department states there are now four women and one male. The dashboard also shows only one hospitalization.
The state numbers climbed 510 cases from the last update Tuesday, bringing the state’s total cases to 1,977 as of the Wednesday evening update.
As of Wednesday evening, the state’s numbers show:
• Total cases – 1,977, of which 1,867 are Florida residents and the other 110 are non-residents who were tested and are isolated in Florida
• Florida deaths – 23
• Monitoring – 1,665
FDOH reports a total of 23,723 people tested in Florida:
• Pending tests – 1,581
• Total negative – 20,165
The state COVID-19 24/7 question line is 866-779-6121. Please do not call law enforcement with coronavirus questions or to report people out in public. There is no curfew or quarantine in place.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a Wednesday press conference that he is still not issuing a stay-at-home order. However, he did reiterate those 65 years old or older, stay at home as much as possible for the next two weeks, especially if they have an underlying condition that would make them more susceptible to contracting the virus.
President Donald Trump approved DeSantis’ Major Disaster Declaration on Wednesday. The declaration allows FEMA to provide federal emergency aid to the state to supplement local, state and tribe recovery from areas hit hard by the coronavirus retroactive from Jan. 20, according to a FEMA press release.
Under this plan, funds for crisis counseling would be available to those in the state. The federal funds would be available to state, tribes and certain nonprofits.
The Florida Department of Health is urging people to stay home when sick, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and use social distancing. Also, they advise on washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds often. If soap and water are unavailable, the second best practice is to use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, including eyes, nose and mouth.
The FDOH is still asking the public to call ahead to their primary doctor’s office if they feel they have COVID-19 symptoms. If someone does not have a primary care physician, they should call the DOH of Highlands County at 863-386-6040 or Central Florida Health Care at 863-452-3000. While waiting on test results, patients are urged to self-monitor their symptoms and self-isolate themselves.
In a Wednesday press release, the FDOH cleared up some myths and facts regarding the coronavirus. The release said hot baths do not prevent coronavirus. According to the FDOH, the coronavirus cannot be spread through mosquito bites. The release also said “spraying alcohol or chlorine” will not kill any viruses that have already entered the body.
The World Health Organization has a page devoted to finding truths called “Myth busters” and can be found at who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters.