MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Preparations against the coronavirus have begun in South Florida, although the highly-discussed virus has not made its way to the Sunshine State.
“There are no cases of this disease in the state of Florida,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez stressed, as global concerns over the coronavirus continue to grow.
County officials held a press conference Thursday, reassuring the public that while they are prepared, they’re also remaining vigilant.
“Am I concerned? Obviously I’m concerned,” Gimenez said.
While federal officials are already screening samples from Port Miami and Miami International Airport, they say so far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not delivered complete testing kits to the county.
The delay forced all local samples to be sent to the CDC, causing a delay of up to two days.
“Every moment is critical,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said. “I will be reaching out to my contacts to find out what is the delay.”
In Broward County, Mayor Dale Holness said they have decided to let the state Health Department take the lead when it comes to the virus.
“We will do what we need to do to protect the people of Broward County and ensure they have good health," he said.
As the public now prepares, medical supply stores say masks are in high demand, despite a warning from medical experts who say the masks aren't necessarily the best line of defense.
"Everybody's been calling. We have multiple people coming in," Bailey’ Pharmacy manager Keisha Moulton said.
“Anyone who does not have a respiratory illness, meaning a cough or sneezing, should not be wearing any type of mask, whether it's a surgical mask or a respirator,” Dr. David Eisenman, an internal medicine specialist, said.
It’s a good reminder as people across South Florida continue to stock up in case the virus comes closer to home.