Santa Rosa County infant tests positive for coronavirus

Teddy bear with protective mask
Two 7-month-olds in Florida have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

A Santa Rosa County boy is the latest infant to test positive for the novel coronavirus after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the case Thursday.

Seaside Child Development Center owner Lisa Gladwell told Florida Politics the infant was 7 months old but would not confirm the child’s gender. That child is close in age to a Broward County 7-month-old boy whom DOH reported Tuesday. Both children are reportedly in good condition.

The development center chose to close its doors Tuesday before it received positive confirmation of the virus, according to the day care’s Facebook posts. On Wednesday, the day care relayed from the infant’s parents that the child had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We chose to do this for everyone’s safety primarily because of hoarding/lack of shipments of necessary supplies and because we learned that the contamination criteria was changed to ‘airborne’ status when initially it was not,” Gladwell wrote.

She added that the center had been checking infants for fevers and will continue to do so after the coronavirus outbreak dies down, a lesson she has learned going forward.

“We were sending kids home for every little thing,” the center’s director, Debbie Lowrey, told told WEAR-TV3. “If they coughed one time, they went home. If their nose started running, they went home.”

A separate child at the day care returned negative for COVID-19 but was diagnosed with human metapneumovirus, which causes another respiratory illness. Gladwell has told parents that children were likely exposed to both virus.

The majority of the day care’s clients are in the medical field or the military.

Gladwell has arranged a “hazmat”-style deep clean of the site and hopes to open again on April 9.

On Monday, a Jackson North Medical Center ER nurse in Miami-Dade County posted a YouTube video saying her 7-month-old boy had tested positive for the disease after showing a low fever. The woman, Herine Baron, is recovering from the disease herself.

“From what I’m seeing, he’s still acting like himself,” she said. “He’s still playful, he’s still him.”

There are now 2,900 confirmed Florida cases of COVID-19 as of a Friday morning DOH report. That includes 2,765 Floridians and 34 deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week that closing day cares would put additional strain on parents with schools now closed. Gladwell told Florida Politics she understands how forcing children to stay home as could be stressful as parents telecommute, but called it highly irresponsible for the Governor to keep day cares open.

“I’m sorry, that’s absolutely asinine,” she said. “We’re talking about lives. Who the hell cares about money at the end of the day?”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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