The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two positive test results for the coronavirus in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ spokesperson Helen Aguirre Ferré said.
The Florida Health Department also tweeted the information. Both individuals remain in isolation at this time. The administration says despite these cases in Florida, the overall immediate threat to the public remains low.
DeSantis has declared a public health emergency and might seek funding for additional staff in budget negotiations between the House and Senate. Six people in the U.S., all in Washington state, have now died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
He gave his first public comments Monday morning after two individuals in Hillsborough and Manatee counties tested presumptive positive for coronavirus.
The two new cases, the first in Florida and now confirmed, include a woman in her 20s in Hillsborough County and a 60-year old man in Manatee County. Both individuals remain in isolation and are in stable condition.
The Hillsborough woman recently returned from northern Italy where a significant outbreak has occurred. Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said health officials are still investigating how the Manatee County man contracted the illness.
He said the number of people tested in the state has grown to 23, with 184 people currently being monitored for potential symptoms. To date, the Governor said, 795 people have been monitored.
As of Saturday, Florida Department of Health labs can now test for novel coronavirus, ending weeks of dependence on the CDC lab in Atlanta and drastically cutting the wait times for results. Previously, physicians with patients suspected of suffering from the illness had to have samples sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and results took up to five days to come back.
The state can now process tests within 24 to 48 hours. Results will either show negative or presumptive positive. Presumptive positive tests would then be sent to the CDC for final verification.
Health officials are monitoring both patients and investigating who the infected patients might have come into contact with to reduce the threat of spreading the virus.
But health officials in Florida say they are expecting more positive tests.
More than 90,000 people have been infected worldwide by the new coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 3,100 people have died.
Janelle Irwin Taylor contributed to this report.