The Florida Hospital Association is implementing patient screening and detection protocols using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health in response to ongoing threats from the novel corona virus.
“Florida’s hospitals plan, prepare and drill for epidemiologic situations as part of their mission to safeguard the health of the public. Infectious disease response is part of an all-hazards plan hospitals are required to maintain to address disease outbreaks like H1N1, Ebola, Zika and now, coronavirus,” the association wrote in a statement.
The statement came following an address on the COVID-19 disease from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees Thursday.
Under its plans, Florida Hospital Association members will instruct patients when scheduling appointments to call ahead if they or persons accompanying them have symptoms of respiratory infection including a cough, runny nose or fever and to take appropriate preventative actions to mitigate potential spread.
Hospitals will also take appropriate steps to maintain respiratory hygiene by encouraging cough etiquette, and hygiene and triage throughout a potentially infected patient’s visit.
Patients showing possible COVID-19 symptoms must also be separated by at least six feet from other patients and individuals and provided easy access to respiratory hygiene supplies.
The guidelines also include rapid triage and isolation for patients displaying symptoms, vigilant disinfection of hard surfaces and clinical areas and appropriate protective equipment for health care workers.
Health care officials also continue to encourage Floridians and visitors to practice preventative care to prevent the spread of germs including washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick and getting a flu vaccination.
While there have been no confirmed cases in Florida as of Thursday, worldwide there have been more than 83,000 confirmed cases and 2,800 deaths from the disease, most in China.
Panic is beginning to emerge in some quarters, including in financial sectors. Overnight into Friday, global stocks continued to plummet, led by a nearly 1,200-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Thursday. Elsewhere, travel plans and and tourism and travel activities are being curtailed, such as the Walt Disney Co.’s announcement that it would temporariliy close its Disneyland parks in Tokyo. and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announcing it was canceling its worldwide conference set for Salt Lake City in early April.