DAVIE, Fla. – U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, held a roundtable Monday morning at Nova Southeastern University with local officials to discuss the response to the coronavirus and what’s needed to fight the virus in South Florida.
Congress approved an emergency response package last week to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Officials on Monday discussed the legislation and other issues South Florida faces in confronting the epidemic.
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Healthcare providers, administrators and researchers also joined the roundtable to discuss the resources needed to manage and contain the disease.
Things got off to a fiery start as Wasserman Schultz began questioning the head of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, Dr. Paula Thaqi, about the lack of specifics when it comes to the three cases of coronavirus in Broward.
While the health department has said that two of the three local cases are associated with Port Everglades, the congresswoman wanted to know why the department hasn’t said how they believe those cases were contracted.
“Every other community that has had these cases has been able to give an indication as to whether or not it was likely a community spread or whether the person had international travel or contact with others who had coronavirus. So that is something that you should also be able to tell us,” she said.
“As I said, there are two cases that are associated with the port. So they certainly may have had contact with people who have international travel," Thaqi said.
Wasserman Schultz was clearly not happy with some of the answers that were given at the roundtable.
Another big topic of discussion was the availability of medical and cleaning supplies.
The assistant director for Port Everglades raised some eyebrows when she revealed that as of right now the port only has enough cleaning supplies to last through early April.
She said the port‘s normal supplier is having difficulty filling orders, an issue she said several other municipalities and agencies across the state are having as well.
Considering two of the three known cases in Broward County are said to have originated at the port, many of the officials gathered in that room seemed to be pretty surprised by that assessment.
Overall, it was pretty substantive meeting that lasted well over an hour.
The Florida Department of Health has advised residents to self-isolate for 14 days if they have traveled to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea in the past 14 days.
Those who become ill during self-isolation are asked to call their local health department.
The Health Department has advised those who have traveled anywhere else internationally or have been on cruises to limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the U.S.
Symptoms of the virus may appear in two to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.