13th coronavirus patient diagnosed

  • Officials urge social distancing and for people 65 and older to take additional precautions.
    Officials urge social distancing and for people 65 and older to take additional precautions.
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A 50-year-old Palatka woman is the latest Putnam County resident to test positive for COVID-19.

The woman became the 13th case in the county Monday, according to the state Department of Health.

According to data released Monday night, there have been 255 COVID-19 tests in Putnam County, with 236 tests coming back negative and six pending. One of the cases required hospitalization, according to the Department of Health.

Mary Garcia, administrator of the state Department of Health in Putnam County, said residents with positive cases are being monitored.

“Usually, we monitor them for 14 days after they start having symptoms,” Garcia said. “We’ll continue monitoring them until they stop being symptomatic.”

Putnam County has established a call center for residents with questions or concerns about COVID-19, particularly about whether they should be tested. The call center is open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily at 329-1904.

“A person asking if they should be tested is the question we get most often,” Garcia said.

According to the health department, a person should call the call center if they:

n Have experienced fever, cough or shortness of breath.

n Have been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

n Are 65 years or older, have underlying health conditions or are a health care worker or a first responder.

Garcia said those with symptoms are referred to the health department’s nurse team.

“Please, please ask people to do social distancing,” Garcia said. “The governor has put in an emergency order for people to stay home and we’re asking people to reduce interactions and not have large gatherings.”

Allison Waters-Merritt, spokeswoman for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, said if residents meet screening criteria, the health department does testing.

“People can ask their practitioner if they have testing, but there are limited tests available,” she said. “If they do not meet specific criteria, they will have to pay or pay through their insurance if their practitioner even says they will do it. If people aren’t showing symptoms or in a high-risk category, it’s essentially a waste.”

Waters-Merritt said officials continue to emphasize residents 65 and older should stay home.

“If they have a relative or someone younger who can do their shopping, we encourage them to do that,” Waters-Merritt said. “Those in that age group are a population that can be more affected.

“That includes those in assisted living facilities and apartments. Don’t gather in hallways or parking lots, and limit how often you physically go out in public.”

Waters-Merritt said only those who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or who are taking care of a loved one who has been diagnosed should wear facemasks.

“People think they are being safe but they start touching things then wind up using a gloved hand to answer their phone and put it up to their ear,” Waters-Merritt said. “There you have a space of skin between your ear and facemask that can be exposed.

“The better method for them is upon getting home to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis also ordered boaters to maintain 50 feet of distance between each other Friday. On Sunday, public beaches in St. Johns County were closed.

“I don’t foresee us closing boat ramps, but we are going to be patrolling more and just asking people to maintain a safe distance from each other,” Waters-Merritt said. “We’re asking people not to congregate. We know people want to do things because the weather has been beautiful.”

Florida had 5,704 COVID-19 cases Monday, the Department of Health said. There have been 71 deaths related to the virus.

Grocery stores continued to stay busy in Putnam County, while many restaurants continue food service with takeout or delivery orders.

Meanwhile, average gasoline prices in the state have dropped below $2 a gallon for the first time in four years, according to the auto club AAA. Regular unleaded gasoline averages $1.97 a gallon, down 78 cents from a year ago and down 40 cents in the past month.