TAMPA, Fla. — Florida's governor issued an executive order Sunday amid news that two people living in the Tampa Bay area had tested "" for the novel coronavirus.
They're from Manatee and Hillsborough counties. Both have been isolated and are receiving medical care.
The respiratory illness is being called COVID-19 (short for "coronavirus disease 19"). Its symptoms are similar to those of the flu.
Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.
The World Health Organization has already called it a public health emergency of international concern. On Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed State Health Officer and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency in Florida.
Under Florida law, public health emergencies can be declared when there are threats that could result in substantial harm to public health. Such threats can include infectious diseases and even natural disasters.
The declarations help free up government resources to focus on responding to the health situation.
"The declaration of a public health emergency shall continue until the State Health Officer finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and he or she terminates the declaration," the statute explains.
Dr. Rivkees will determine the duration of the emergency declaration -- although the declaration cannot continue for more than 60 days without the governor's permission. Under Florida statutes, he will have the power to take action to protect public health. According to the executive order, Rivkees will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to establish protocols to control the spread of COVID-19 and educate people about prevention tactics.
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