Rep. Mike Caruso says he tested negative for the COVID-19 virus after feeling ill last week and missing an in-person vote on the state’s budget.
As POLITICO Florida first reported, House Speaker José Oliva‘s office described Caruso’s symptoms as similar to a sinus infection.
“I remember trying to see how long I could hold my breath,” Caruso said of the peak of his symptoms last weekend. “And then it just didn’t get better, it got worse.”
He eventually made the decision to get tested at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) on March 16.
“I had a fever of 101 when I got to the hospital,” Caruso told Florida Politics.
“Between that and the constant [cough] — and having trouble breathing or to hold my breath — I figured I needed to go in and get tested.”
Caruso said the COVID-19 test came back negative on Saturday. But Caruso did test positive for a variant of the flu. “It really affects your breathing. It gets into your lungs,” he said of the flu.
Caruso said he’s feeling well now and the symptoms have passed, but he does note his wife is now feeling sick. He described her symptoms as a headache, aches, high temperature and cough. Caruso said he would seek to get her tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus as well if those symptoms don’t improve.
Overall, Caruso had high praise for the testing protocol at TMH. He said he was given tests for strep, the flu and the COVID-19 virus at one time.
“They have a big sign on the door at TMH, ‘If you think you have coronavirus, please ask for a mask upon entering.’ And so I did,” he explained.
Caruso said he was taken back to a private room that “seemed to be airtight.” Once the testing was done, he said he was instructed to isolate and self-quarantine until the results came back. Caruso was given gloves and a mask and stayed inside until Saturday when the negative results came back.
Caruso represents House District 89, which runs up the east coast in Palm Beach County. As of a Tuesday morning update, Palm Beach had 101 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. That trails only Broward and Miami-Dade counties, which have both topped 300 cases so far.
Caruso said the brief health scare showed him the necessity for Floridians to be responsible until the virus’s spread is controlled.
“Hopefully people will heed the Governor and the President’s advice to keep socially distant and stay inside and not get out there and mingle with other people. Hopefully they’ll do that, and hopefully Congress will come through with some relief for businesses and the hardworking people who can’t go to work right now,” Caruso said.
“Anything that we can do to minimize the burden on the medical system and deaths is warranted. And I think the economy will recover once we get through this whole thing.”
Ultimately though, Caruso said he was very relieved the test came back the way it did.
“And about 120 other state representatives and 40 senators were happy I didn’t have it,” he added.