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First batch of coronavirus tests come back negative at Sarasota Memorial, more tests pending

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The first batch of coronavirus tests on patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital came back negative, hospital officials announced Thursday.

The first batch included 14 tests on patients who had “unexplained respiratory illness.” Hospital officials say they learned Wednesday night that all 14 tests were negative, but could not officially release information until the tests were confirmed by the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

While the first batch came back negative, hospital officials say they are still treating a high volume of patients with respiratory illness. Additional samples have been submitted for testing. Those results are pending.

“We are happy to report that the results we have received to date have been negative, but there are many viruses circulating this time of year and many more tests that will be run. We have to remain vigilant and prepared for that to change,” CEO David Verinder said.

In a news release, hospital officials explained the process of what happens when someone comes to the hospital with symptoms of coronavirus.

“Those who come to the hospital and meet CDC criteria for possible COVID-19 coronavirus are put in isolation and treated with all necessary precautions while the hospital completes a battery of tests to rule out flu and other viruses. If those results are negative, state health officials test the samples for COVID-19 at state-run labs in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami,” a spokesperson said.

The hospital has set up a 24/7 coronavirus command center that provides its staff, as well as other healthcare providers and nursing homes in the community, with information and guidance. A public coronavirus hotline has also been created. You can call (941)-917-8799 for updated information.

“It is important that the public remain vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. People experiencing symptoms consistent with this respiratory illness, including coughing, fever and shortness of breath, should follow proper precautions,” hospital officials said. “Patients with mild symptoms should contact their physician, another healthcare provider or the Florida Department of Health. Patients with severe symptoms or underlying conditions, such as a weakened immune system or chronic respiratory disease, should contact their family physician or the SMH hotline for guidance on how to seek care without exposing others.”

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