A Miami-Dade man who traveled outside Florida has become the county's first resident to contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Florida Department of Health (DOH) officials announced in a media release tonight.
"A 56-year-old male in Miami-Dade County has tested positive," the health department stated. "He is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. This is a travel-related case."
The state health department offered no further details about the man. The DOH did, however, announce yet another person in Broward County — a 70-year-old man who had recently traveled to a medical conference in Tampa — also tested positive for COVID-19 today. In addition, the DOH said a 63-year-old New York resident who is now in St. Johns County, Florida, tested positive after attending Daytona Bike Week.
As of 9:43 tonight, the state health department said 23 Floridians have tested positive for the virus. Five Florida residents who've contracted the disease elsewhere have been repatriated to the state. Nearly 500 people are being monitored. Two Floridians have died.
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DOH also announces that 70 y/o male in Broward County tested positive. Says he attended an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Conference in Tampa.— Ben Conarck (@conarck) March 12, 2020
Everyone take a deep breath. This was a matter of when, not if. The world is not ending. We will get through this. And there are things you can do now to help mitigate the stress this will out on our health care workers. https://t.co/JpFjgPxLC5— Ben Conarck (@conarck) March 12, 2020
The news comes the same night Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he would declare a countywide state of emergency to free up funding and resources to better respond to the outbreak. Health experts believed it was only a matter of time before cases began appearing in tourist-heavy Miami-Dade County.
What is unclear, however, is if Gimenez's move will change his stance that many large public gatherings in the county, such as the Miami Open tennis tournament, will be allowed to proceed as planned.