Florida Governor: we have coronavirus test kits, but a shortage of swabs

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Florida now has 390 positive cases of COVID-19. The state’s Department of Health website says there have been eight deaths from the disease caused by coronavirus.

All public beaches and beach parking areas in Pinellas County will be closed, beginning Friday night. An email from the county asks private owners along the beach to conform to CDC social distancing guidelines.

Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday that enough kits have been distributed to test 625,000 Floridians, but there’s a shortage of swabs to perform the tests. He says several thousand more swabs are on the way.

“We do have some good news. We have received little dribs and drabs from some of our swab order. So we have, I think, four or five thousand that have come in.

“I’m going to be going down to Broward later today to do an announcement about our drive through testing site that the Guard is doing in conjunction with Memorial Health Care.

“So I’m getting those swabs and basically every swab we have can either be run through the local lab, one of the state labs or packaged and sent to the commercial laboratories.

“I think in the last week the commercial laboratories have gotten crushed, so some of those are taking longer than they had wanted.

“You hear the Vice President talking about the new way to test where you can do mass volumes. That’s supposed to start on Friday. If that does then we’ll use our labs here but we could swab, swab, swab and hopefully send really large amounts to the private labs and then get results relatively quickly.

“We also have been working with Health and Human Services, we are told that there’s a shipment of swabs en route to Florida,” DeSantis said.

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Meanwhile, the Trump administration says it is considering testing two different possible treatments for COVID-19. This is Stephan Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration.

“In the short term we’re looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications.

“So they’re already approved, as the President said, for other diseases. As an example many Americans have read studies and heard media reports about this drug chloroquine, which is an anti-malarial drug.

“It’s already approved, as the President said, for the treatment of malaria as well as an arthritis condition. That’s a drug that the President has asked us to take a closer look at, as to whether an expanded use approach of that could be done to see if it benefits patients.

“And again, we want to do that in the setting of a clinical trial, a large pragmatic clinical trial, to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be asked and answered.

“Let me give you another example. There’s a cross agency effort about something called convalescent plasma. This is a pretty exciting area. Again, this is something we have given assistance to other countries with as this crisis has developed, so FDA has been working for some time on this.

“If you have been exposed to coronavirus and you’re better, you don’t have the virus in your blood, we could collect the blood — now this is a possible treatment, it’s not a proven treatment, I just want to emphasize that — collect the blood, concentrate that and have the ability once its pathogen free — that is, virus free — be able to give that to other patients and the immunoglobulins, the immune response, could provide a potential benefit to patients,” Hahn said.

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Hahn’s statement about chloroquine seemed to contradict President Trump, who claimed earlier that a specific malaria drug had already shown promise at treating the COVID-19 disease.

Florida Politics and other outlets are reporting that a resident of the ONE St. Petersburg condominium building has tested positive for coronavirus. It’s one of 14 known cases in Pinellas County.

Italy has overtaken China as the country with most coronavirus-related deaths, registering 3,405 dead.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff is releasing 164 inmates who are accused of low-level crimes to help reduce the risk of the new coronavirus spreading in his two jails. Sheriff Chad Chronister said during a news conference this morning that this will help detention deputies and staff focus on higher priorities. He said the jails have closed their lobbies and are disinfecting frequently to curb any spread of the virus. So far none of the 2,700 inmates have tested positive.

An AP-NORC poll finds that Americans are increasingly worried that they or a loved one will be affected by the virus.

Unemployment claims have soared in the U.S. and inequality in coronavirus testing has become a contentious issue with accusations that the rich and famous are jumping the line.

The first federal checks to families could be $3,000 for a family of four under the White House proposal to unleash $1 trillion for the coronavirus outbreak. That information about the government’s redistribution of wealth is according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said Thursday the checks would be direct deposited into people’s accounts. Mnuchin told Fox Business Network, the payments would be $1,000 per adult and $500 per child. Congress is racing to complete the Trump administration’s $1 trillion dollar plan to stabilize a national economy. Late Wednesday, Trump signed into law a $100 billion-plus bill to boost testing for the virus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers hit by it.

information from the Associated Press was used in this report

 

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