SARASOTA — A patient at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota is being treated for coronavirus, according to a letter distributed to patients and obtained by the Sun.
The letter from Sunday states the hospital was notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “we have a patient in our facility who presumptively tested positive for COVID-19.”
The letter states the hospital has “activated all protocols for handling potential COVID-19 cases,” it said in a reported letter to its patients.
This would be Florida’s first reported case of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus.
Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency late Sunday after state officials announced two Floridians tested presumptively positive for the ailment. The state said the cases were pending confirmation from the Centers of Disease Control.
Coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, causes respiratory infections “ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.” COVID-19 is the newest coronavirus.
The new ailment began, apparently, in China and has wrapped its way around the world — infecting tens of thousands. While it is still new and a vaccine is likely at least a year away, it has caused death in about 2 percent of its victims. However, health officials stress, many people may show little or no symptoms.
Doctors Hospital stated in its letter its coronavirus patient “was admitted to our facility in late February and remains under our care,” the letter states.
Doctors Hospital Communications Director Monica Yadav said she could not comment on the case, referring inquiries to the CDC.
“No information can be released at this time,” Yadav said Sunday night.
The Sun was awaiting word for the CDC. Several messages had been left with the government agency.
A patient at the hospital provided the letter on social media after overhearing employees and volunteers discuss the affected patient.
“I pretended I did not hear anything and warned my family not to visit me, until further notice,” the patient wrote to the Sun in a text exchange.
The patient’s identity is being withheld due to their concern it may affect their care.
The patient said the information was first heard Sunday morning.
The patient said an official “came later on to hand all patients the letter and informed us that the patient is properly secured and they have all guidelines in place.”
The patient said they didn’t see anyone panicking about the situation and that they had not been told anything more Sunday evening.
“I asked if we were safe, and he said yes, but I don’t feel so sure,” the patient said. “There is another gentleman across from me coughing and sneezing like crazy.”
Florida officials said the patients involved were from Hillsborough and Manatee counties but did not disclose where the patients were - only stating they were in isolation until their symptoms clear or the testing for COVID-19 comes back negative from the CDC.
"This is the scenario that we prepare for every day in public health," Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said in a statement. "The department is moving forward with the appropriate plans and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."