Florida Department of Health announced March 1 that two adults in the state had tested presumptive positive for 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials say both individuals with positive tests results are in isolation.

Presumptive positive means the case has tested positive in a public health laboratory but is pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus far, 15 tests have come back negative and eight are pending.

The first case that came back positive is for a Manatee County resident without travel history to any of the countries the CDC has identified for restricted travel. Those areas currently include China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.

Officials say the person did seek medical care and is isolated and will remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. DOH is working closely with the patient and their close contacts to isolate and monitor those who may have been exposed. Anyone that develops symptoms, which include fever, cough or shortness of breath, will be tested.

The second patent is a resident of Hillsborough County with a travel history to Italy. This person also is isolated and will remain isolated until cleared by health officials.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order March 1 directing Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees to declare a health emergency. Declaring an emergency allows officials to mobilize resources should they become necessary and make response plans.

“This is the scenario that we prepare for every day in public health, Rivkees said in a press release. “The Department is moving forward with the appropriate plans, and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local medical providers to ensure these individuals receive the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with them is following the necessary protocols, limiting or stopping any further spread.”

Much like the flu, COVID-19 can spread person to person through droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets land on surfaces, which other people touch. Those people then touch their eyes, nose or mouth and get infected.

Symptoms may appear two-14 days after exposure. Most people recover without the need of special treatment; however, the elderly and people with medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, may develop a more serious illness.

There is no vaccine for COVID-19. The best prevention method is to avoid being exposed using methods much the same as in a flu outbreak.

• Avoid contact with sick people.

• Stay home if you are sick and avoid people in poor health.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Covering your mouth when you cough and your nose when you sneeze with a tissue and disposing of the tissue.

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing.

• If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces using household cleaning spray or wipe.

Healthy people don’t need to wear masks; however people who show symptoms do. Healthcare workers and people caring for persons who are sick also should wear a mask.

Pinellas County Schools remains in constant contact with the state DOH and the district remains vigilant in protecting its students’ health and safety, according to a recent press release. Officials recommend that parents keep sick students at home and practice all preventive measures. The district has elevated its cleaning and disinfecting protocols and will ensure that all soap dispensers remain filled and that hand sanitizer is available.

For more information, visit www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19.For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The CDC also has a website with information related to COVID-19. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.