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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds news conference Thursday to discuss Coronavirus

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Posted at 11:03 AM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 11:03:04-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Thursday to discuss what the state is doing to prepare for the deadly coronavirus.

DeSantis was joined by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees and Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Shamarial Roberson.

"First are foremost, there are still no cases of coronavirus in Florida," Gov. DeSantis said. "This is a rapidly evolving situation, we're carefully monitoring."

The governor said Florida is following guidance from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health and Human Services with regard to prevention measures for coronavirus, or COVID-19.

"The Florida Department of Health has been fully engaged from the beginning with their response," said Gov. DeSantis.

The governor said Florida has a coronavirus Incident Management Team in place, and is getting multiple daily updates from the CDC. In addition, the state has hundreds of Department of Health professionals ready to respond.

The Florida Department of Health has set up a special website with the latest information about coronavirus.

"This is a new virus," said State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. "This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation."

Dr. Rivkees said the immediate health risk for coronavirus in the U.S. is low, however, we need to be prepared for additional cases.

The doctor added the death rate from COVID-19 is about 2 percent, compared to the flu which is .1 percent.

"It can cause both upper and lower respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and in some situations, pneumonia," said Dr. Rivkees. "The highest complication rates are in the elderly and those individuals with underlying medical conditions."

Dr. Rivkees said that in 80 percent of cases, the symptoms will be mild. 15 percent of patients will severe illness, and 3 percent will be critically ill.

"Most indivuualts who will have COVID-19 can be cared for at home," said Dr. Rivkees, who added there is no vaccine or anti-viral medications for coronavirus, and the treatment is mostly symptomatic at home.

The doctor said a COVID-19 vaccine is currenly under development, but it's more than a year away.

Gov. DeSantis said people who have visited China in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the U.S.

Flights from China are being directed to 11 international airports so the passengers on board can be screened for coronavirus. However, none of those airports are in Florida.

As of Wednesday, the CDC's website said there are 14 confirmed cases in the United States. That number does not include people who returned to the U.S. via State Department chartered flights.

On Thursday, Japan announced the closure of schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus.