UF Health in Jacksonville is ready should people need testing for coronavirus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New guidelines were released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding who can be tested for the coronavirus.

The new criteria comes a day after a coronavirus case in California emerged where the patient is believed to have contracted the disease in the U.S.

Jacksonville hospitals are preparing its facilities as a precaution, and on Friday, News4Jax spent some time at UF Health to find out what is being done.

UF Health physician Chad Neilsen showed the isolation room where the hospital would hold suspected coronavirus patients locally, should it receive any. In the room, the air that’s breathed in is constantly scrubbed, then eliminated.

"What happens in our negative air room is that, instead of the air being recycled into the hospital, it's pushed into here and actually gets exhausted out of the hospital through filters," Neilsen said. "It doesn't gets exhausted outside the hospital."

The isolation room is designed to treat only a few patients, but Neilsen said UF Health has the capability of turning other rooms and even wings into isolation areas, if necessary. He said physicians are trained to handle various infectious diseases, while making sure the physicians and staff members aren’t exposed to a virus themselves.

“We’ve got face shields, surgical masks available in these carts... we have coveralls for more invasive procedures, wipes, things like that… we have a variety of different glove sizes, specimen containers, and then the real piece that’s important is the N95 masks,” he said.

Neilsen and other physicians received new guidelines from the CDC about who should be considered for coronavirus testing.

The list of affected areas include China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Patients being tested may have to stay in isolation for several days because the tests need to be sent away to laboratories outside the state of Florida.

Doctors are hoping that in the near future, they’ll have the ability to get the testing done in cities like Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami and Tampa. Right now the tests are sent to the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia.

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