JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday praised state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees for working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the state’s response to the coronavirus and reiterated that the state has not had any confirmed cases.
“Everyone that has come back from China that has been tested has been negative. Scott Rivkees has done a good job working with the CDC,” DeSantis told reporters. “We continue to do it. We continue to monitor everything. But it’s not something that’s impacted us yet, so we’re just going to keep on it.”
DeSantis’ compliments for Rivkees came as the surgeon general has faced criticism for not being forthcoming with information about the number of Florida residents who have been tested for the virus. Rivkees told a Senate committee this week that doctors who suspect cases of the coronavirus have been instructed to contact county health departments, collect specimens and ship them to the CDC for testing.
Rivkees said a state law regarding patient confidentiality precludes him from disclosing the information.
Previous surgeons general, however, have disclosed testing information in other circumstances. That included former Surgeon General Celeste Philip, who disclosed information about testing during a Zika virus outbreak. DeSantis last year appointed Rivkees as surgeon general, a position that doubles as Department of Health secretary. The Florida Senate is expected to consider Rivkees’ confirmation in the coming weeks.
Things Floridians should know about the coronavirus
- There are NO cases of 2019-nCoV in Florida
- The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China
- Employers are to actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces