Sarasota Memorial Hospital confirms first case of coronavirus


SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials say they have their first patient who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Hospital officials say the patient is a 70-year-old man who came into their facility on Thursday with symptoms consistent with the virus and then tested positive for COVID-19.

Sarasota County Health officials say they are now working to see who that patient came into contact with before entering the hospital.

“Our standard epidemiological procedure for any infectious disease that’s transmittable, is to understand the contacts that person may have had during the infectious period of that disease and to reach out to all of those individuals, interview them and to make sure we are taking the right protective measures for the community,” said Chuck Henry with the county health department.

Hospital officials say they’ve been training for this to happen for the last month and put an action plan into place as soon as the patient tested positive for the virus.

“We notified the patient and family the hospital is taking care of the patient. I went ahead and notified the nursing staff at that point and obviously a command center meeting was called,” said Dr. James Fiorica.

The hospital says they’ve sent off 146 samples to be tested for the virus. 85 tests have come back negative, one has come back positive and they are waiting on results from 60 other samples.

“It is important to understand that there are no local hospitals, urgent care centers or physician offices in our region equipped to test for COVID-19,” said hospital CEO David Verinder.

The results can take 48 hours or more to be confirmed by three state labs. One of the labs is in Jacksonville, the others are in Tampa and Miami. Verinder says they would like to see the lab in the hospital be certified to test samples for the virus to speed up results.

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