U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is calling for the state’s Surgeon General to reveal whether there are any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Florida. The Tampa General Hospital revealed last week it is monitoring patients with flu-like symptoms.
“We have fully engaged our health community, hospitals, medical providers and County Health Departments to respond. We are also working lockstep with the Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC). There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida. However, if any were to arise, we are prepared to contain this new infection, help any individuals sickened by the virus and keep Florida safe,” responded state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.
His offices say that per state statute, the department cannot comment on potential cases.
But Crist believes the global health emergency is more important than the state statute that allows the DOH to work in secret.
In a letter sent from Crist’s office to Rivkees, he believes Floridians are being kept from the truth and wants the state’s DOH to be transparent.
“With new information coming out every day, my constituents are concerned about what the virus could mean for them and their families and what the state of Florida is doing to keep them safe,” Crist said in the letter. “They want to be informed and engaged, not left in the dark like what they are seeing out of China.”
Crist wrote to Dr. Rivkees that transparency is key.
“Anything less than full transparency puts all Floridians at risk, especially children, expectant mothers, senior citizens, and those with compromised immune systems,” Crist said in the letter.
Last week, Crist urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take greater action on detecting and preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Crist isn’t the only Florida leader calling for greater action on coronavirus. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has been openly critical of China’s lack of transparency on the scope of the epidemic and doesn’t believe the U.S. is getting accurate information from the communist nation.
In a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs round table discussion earlier this month Scott asked about risks from Chinese imports, specifically agricultural and food products like imported seafood, grains and live animals and whether the U.S. should consider a ban on Chinese imports.
Scott also called for increased screening and inspections on all products and produce coming from China. He wants to know why the U.S. isn’t using the same level of screening on imports as the government is on passengers traveling from China.
He is calling on the World Health Organization to conduct an independent investigation into the extent of the virus. He plans to ask committee members what they think the actual numbers are on infections and deaths associated with coronavirus and whether they believe China is withholding information.
Finally, Scott wants to know what steps the U.S. should be taking that have not already been taken to contain the virus and what resources are needed to aid in those efforts.
Meanwhile, however, Gov. Ron DeSantis praised Rivkees for working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the state’s response to the coronavirus and reiterated that the state has not had any confirmed cases.