Florida coronavirus cases jump and now exceed 100

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s confirmed cases of new coronavirus jumped by 39 Sunday, reaching 100 total as testing expands and results become known.

The Florida Department of Health said 16 of the new cases are in Broward County, which remains the state’s hot spot for the disease with more than 30 confirmed infections. Three people have died in the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that some of the patients had not traveled to Europe, Asia, the Pacific Northwest, New York or other known hot spots for the disease or have contact with anyone who did, meaning it is likely the virus has spread into the general population.

To help contain the spread of the disease, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have all announced they will be closing Sunday night for at least two weeks. Disney will keep its hotels and its Disney Springs shopping area open, however. All major cruise ship lines have also suspended operations. Miami Beach’s famed South Beach is being closed nightly to avoid large gatherings of spring breakers from around the world there.

Miami International Airport has been designated as one of 13 airports nationwide that will receive flights from Europe and will check passengers for signs of the disease. Spokesman Greg Chin said that unlike Chicago’s O’Hare where lines have been long, Miami has had short waits as only 10 European flights arrived Saturday and only seven are expected Sunday.

There have been about 500 negative test results statewide and more than 350 people are being monitored. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. The virus has infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,600.

DeSantis has activated the National Guard and the state is purchasing 625,000 testing kits. Most in-person court proceedings have been suspended for two weeks, although judges can choose to conduct some by video or phone where legally allowed.

The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but older adults and those with existing health problems can develop severe complications, including pneumonia.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Saturday that the state plans to keep providing free and reduced-cost meals to 2 million low-income students while the state’s 4,500 public schools are closed through at least March 30.

The state’s 67 countywide school districts will each decide whether to participate. Because of recommendations that people not congregate in large groups, some districts might choose to let parents pick up their children’s meals at school and take them home or may even drop off meals near their homes using buses. Districts that can might give students up to a week’s worth of food at once to minimize contact.

Fried said it is important that the program continue while schools are closed because “for many (children), these meals are the only meals they can count on.”