The Florida Department of Health on Saturday announced that the state has four new presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
Those new cases are in Manatee, Charlotte, Volusia, and Okaloosa counties.
The Volusia case is the first for Central Florida.
There are 19 confirmed cases of the virus in Florida, and two people in the state have died from it. Another 278 individuals are being monitored for symptoms.
Gov. Ron DeSantis directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Saturday morning to activate to Level II, in order to coordinate the state’s response and to provide critical support to the state’s Department of Health as well as county health departments.
On Friday night, the Department of Health announced that a Lee County woman and a Santa Rosa County man had died from COVID-19.
The contagion has also made its way to South Florida, with two presumptive cases in Broward County, which were announced Friday evening.
DeSantis says a male employee at Port Everglades is one of the two local individuals who are infected.
Broward Mayor Dale Holness adds that the man is a contractor at Port Everglades.
According to DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre, the two men in Broward County are ages 65 and 75, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Regal Princess cruise ship was being held off the coast of Port Everglades Sunday morning, awaiting test results on two crew members suspected of having the virus.
The two individuals were transferred from the Grand Princess in California, which has 21 positive cases of coronavirus.
The Regal Princess is on a 14-day Caribbean cruise.
Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Regal Princess passengers and crew were woken up by an announcement from the captain stating that the ship was waiting for federal health authorities to test two crew members.
“The crew members are past the understood maximum incubation of COVID-19 and are asymptomatic,” the captain writes in a letter distributed to passengers Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard says the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “no sail” order to the ship.
Regal Princess is being held offshore by @USCG and @CDCgov to test crew who recently served aboard the Grand Princess. Today's sailing is cancelled. Passengers should contact Princess. Port Everglades is fully operational for all other cruise and cargo activities. @BrowardCounty
— Port Everglades (@PortEverglades) March 8, 2020
“This morning a Coast Guard Miami small boat crew, in support of that order, transported test kits to a vessel offshore southern Florida,” the spokeswoman explains. “We will assist health officials to ensure the safety and health of all passengers and crew aboard, and will continue to collaborate with our interagency and industry partners as the whole of U.S. Government responds and mitigates risk of coronavirus.”
Vice President Mike Pence said during a visit to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday that new cruise ship coronavirus-related guidelines are being developed.
After meeting with cruise company CEOs, he explained that new screening and quarantine protocols would be in place within 72 hours.
“The American people value our cruise line industry,” Pence said. “Nevertheless we all recognize the recent challenges posed on the Diamond Princess and the ongoing challenge with the Grand Princess in the spread of the coronavirus.”
This is a developing story.