23-year-old tests positive for virus; Trump declares state disaster area
A fifth coronavirus case in Putnam County proves age is just a number for the virus as a 23-year-old resident was the latest diagnosed Wednesday night.
“Residents need to be taking this seriously no matter what their age as this case proves,” Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Allison Waters-Merritt said.
The total number of cases in Florida climbed to 1,977 by press time Wednesday and 23 Florida residents have died, according to floridadisaster.org. Two of those deaths came from Clay County and one from St. Johns County.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump declared Florida a disaster area Wednesday because of the outbreak.
The president acted a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis requested the declaration, becoming the sixth state to receive one because of the virus. The move makes the state eligible for federal funding for emergency protective measures and crisis counseling.
The declaration came shortly after the two major counties in the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough and Pinellas, moved to impose lockdown orders.
The report showed 172 Putnam County residents have been tested and of those people, 122 cases returned negative and 45 are pending.
“Our testing numbers have gone up,” Waters-Merritt said. “We are still in a time where testing is prominent. …It is not unheard of that testing will go up.”
The majority of people who tested positive in the county are 65 years or older and Waters-Merritt said hand washing and staying in when possible are incredibly important.
Younger people may be able to fight the virus, but people who are older or have underlying health conditions may receive a more severe case of coronavirus if infected, she said. “This case shows it can happen to any age.”
Three cases are in Palatka, one is in Interlachen and the final case is in Crescent City, according to floridadisaster.org, a sub site of the Florida Department of Health.
Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach said Tuesday one of his deputies came into contact with an emergency room doctor at Putnam Community Medical Center and she spent time in quarantine, but was later released after testing negative.
Emergency Services Chief Quin Romay said none of his employees have had to self-isolate with virus concerns.
“We’ve got several paramedics who have been tested, but they didn’t have any further (issues)” Romay said. “We don’t have anybody positive.”
County offices have shut their doors but remain available to the public while Putnam County libraries have been closed as a result of the virus.
Residents are able to make appointments at county offices or continue business such as filing for permits, but county official Jim Troiano said by closing the office doors everyone will remain safer.
“We’re trying to limit the number of people in that confined space. We’re trying to limit the exposure between the general public and our staff,” Troiano said. “It’s all about keeping good social distancing while providing a good level of service to our community.”
The county call center is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. for residents to ask questions regarding COVID-19 to officials at 329-1904.
Putnam County Emergency Management Coordinator Ryan Simpson said the center had about 100 calls come in Tuesday and officials are fully prepared to answer any questions residents may have.
“Any questions county residents have related about anything related to (COVID-19), we’re happy to assist,” Simpson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.