With coronavirus outbreaks in Mexico and Brazil, Rick Scott again questions screening at ports and airports
Image via AP.

rick Scott
Mexico reported its first case Friday, prompting Scott's letter.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has requested information from federal agencies asking what security is in place at Florida’s airports and seaports in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Scott issued the letter Friday to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.

“I am extremely concerned about the outbreak of the Chinese Coronavirus, which is growing at an alarming rate in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East,” Scott wrote. “The first reported cases of the Chinese Coronavirus in Brazil and Mexico are particularly concerning given the rate of travel between these countries and Florida.”

As of Friday afternoon, there are more than 83,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in at least 53 countries. It includes 60 cases in the U.S., two in Mexico and one in Brazil. So far, more than 2,800 people have died, most of them in China.

The Florida Department of Health reported Thursday there are no cases of coronavirus in Florida.

“Florida serves as a hub of commerce and international trade, and our state’s proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean allows Florida’s 15 seaports to play an important role in the nation’s waterborne exports and imports,” Scott wrote. “Florida is also a global tourist destination, welcoming more than 100 million visitors a year.”

In the letter, Scott asked Wolf and Redfield the following questions:

— Is the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considering extending the temporary travel restrictions to any Central or South American country or region? If so, which ones?

— Has DHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) introduced new travel screening protocols for any Florida airports or seaports, specifically Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale Airport and Orlando International Airport? If so, what are the new screening protocols for passengers coming from Central and South America?

— Are you planning to add any Florida airports to the list of airports authorized to receive flights from areas affected by the Chinese Coronavirus? If so, what would be the quarantine protocol?

— Have clear guidelines been shared with Florida airports and seaports on new procedures given the new health threat from Central and South America?

— Are DHS and the CDC planning to increase U.S. Customs and Border Protection and CDC screening personnel at Florida airports and seaports? If so, which ones?

— Has the CDC been working with authorities in Brazil and Mexico to mitigate travel-related spread?

“Thank you for your work to control the spread of this disease,” Scott wrote. “I look forward to your response as we continue to work with you to be as transparent as possible as we keep Americans safe.”

It marked Scott’s second letter to Redfield in as many days with concerns about coronavirus. On Thursday, Scott urged Redfield and the CDC to launch a 24/7 hotline to address questions people might have about the virus.

Mark Bergin

Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist, who previously worked as an online writer for 10News WTSP in St. Petersburg. Bergin has covered the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium negotiations, the 2018 midterm elections, Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay’s transportation issues and city/county government. He also covers the NFL for the Bleav Podcast Network and for BrownsNation.com. You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @mdbergin. Reach him by email at [email protected].

One comment

  • Thomas L. Knapp

    February 28, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    “Scott urged Redfield and the CDC to launch a 24/7 hotline to address questions people might have about the virus.”

    Aww, isn’t that quaint? He thinks people still get their information by telephone!

Comments are closed.


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