DeSantis confirms evidence of COVID-19 community spread in Broward; 4th Florida death announced

PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - UPDATED: Health Dept confirms 39 cases of COVID-19; 16 in Broward & 5 in Miami-Dade

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said there is evidence of community spread of the new coronavirus in Broward County, as health officials confirm a fourth death in the state from COVID-19.

The governor confirmed the community spread while he gave an update on new developments alongside health officials at a news conference, Saturday afternoon.

FDOH officials confirmed 25 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday morning, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to 66. Twenty of those cases are located in Broward, and eight are in Miami-Dade.

“Broward County has the most cases in the state of Florida,” he said.

Most of the Broward cases, DeSantis said, are linked to international travel, but there is also evidence of cases linked to domestic travel, mostly from New York state.

“However, we have three unlinked cases in Broward County. Now, that is still being investigated, but in terms of, when you have unlinked cases, that is evidence of community spread,” said DeSantis.

Of those new cases, six are linked to individuals affiliated with Nova Southeastern University who traveled to Ireland prior to travel restrictions to Europe and the United Kingdom.

“All cases of COVID-19 we have in Florida can be tied to another another individual with COVID-19 or an individual who has traveled here from overseas,” said a health officials.

Saturday evening, the Florida Department of Health confirmed a 77-year-old patient from Lee County has died. State officials said this was not a travel-related case.

Hours later, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry confirmed two more positive cases in Duval County.

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DeSantis said he has moved the emergency operation center to Level 1. He said the state is working to hire more epidemiologists and additional staff to help out with investigations tracking down how patients are becoming infected.

The announcement included a list of those infected, with most of them being elderly. DeSantis reiterated they are the most at-risk group, so it’s imperative to practice proper hygiene and refrain from going out to large areas.

Health officials also announced that a Florida resident in California has died, bringing the total of out-of-state deaths to three.

Six Florida residents have tested positive out of the state and are currently isolated.

Because of community spread, hospitals like Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines are setting up tents for patients who may have the virus and can infect others.

“With what’s going on today, they need to ensure the safety and well-being of everybody,” said a woman outside of the hospital.

As of Saturday afternoon, there have been 478 negative test results and 221 are pending.

The Florida Department of Health urged people to follow travel guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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