Two people in Florida who previously tested positive for the new coronavirus have died, state health officials announced Friday, bringing the U.S. death toll from the virus to at least 16.
The Florida Department of Health said the two patients who died were in their 70s and had traveled overseas. It’s not yet clear where the two had travelled.
One of the fatal cases was a previously-announced case in Santa Rosa County, in Florida’s Panhandle. The man had pre-existing health conditions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said when announcing the case Thursday.
The second death was one of three new presumptive cases announced in the state. The fatal case involved an elderly person in Lee County.
The other two new cases, aged 65 and 75, are in isolation in Broward County.
As of Friday night, the new announcements bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state from four to seven.
Officials had previously announced five Florida residents who had been traveling in China have also been quarantined elsewhere after testing positive for the virus.
Officials continued to say on Friday that the risk to those in the state remains low as most cases have concentrated in Washington state and California, where a cruise ship is being held off the coast after a passenger on a previous trip died and others became infected.
But at least in Miami, city officials have canceled two large music festivals over fears that crowded events could spread the new virus more widely. It is not clear whether state officials will implement any other drastic measures ahead of Florida’s busy Spring Break season later this month.
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Earlier Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had asked state lawmakers for $25 million for health officials to use immediately in the state’s response to coronavirus.
DeSantis said he expects Florida to receive at least $27 million from the federal government, along with an extra $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to immediately cover costs like lab equipment and staffing.
The deaths in Florida mark the first outside of the West Coast.
One death has been reported in California, while the remaining 13 are in Washington state. At least 10 of those are connected to a nursing home in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb.
Data from Johns Hopkins University has the total number of confirmed cases in the U.S. at 338, although the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only listed 164 cases as of Friday night, across 19 states.
On Friday, Vice-President Mike Pence announced 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship had tested positive for the coronavirus, 19 of them crew members.
Health officials undertook the testing after reporting that a passenger on a previous voyage of the ship, in February, died of the disease.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure Friday to help public health agencies deal with crisis, and spur development of vaccines and treatments.
Pence said testing kits have been distributed to every state in the country, with testing underway in most of those states.
The CDC says it had tested 1,583 patients as of Thursday. That number does not count the number of people being tested by local and state health authorities.
—With files from the Associated Press