Updated Mar 8, 2020 - Health

Two dead in Florida after exposure to coronavirus from international travel

A Virologist looks at an electron microscope image of a MERS coronavirus, a close relative of the novel coronavirus, on Jan. 24. Photo: Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Two Floridians have died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus following international travel, the state health department said on Saturday.

What's happening: Two new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases were also announced in Florida on Saturday — the Broward County residents, a 75-year-old man and a 65-year-old man, are in isolation after testing positive for the virus in a state lab, with additional CDC confirmation pending.

Why it matters: There are now 19 reported deaths from the virus in the U.S., with most — 16 — located in Washington state, per data from Johns Hopkins and state health departments.

Details: One deceased Florida patient was a Santa Rose County resident, and the other a Lee County resident, per the department's press release.

By the numbers: 11 Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with five repatriated citizens and one non-resident in the state, per the state health department. 278 patients are being monitored and 87 results are pending.

What we don't know: The health department has not disclosed the deceased patients' ages or genders or identified if the new presumptive positive cases were caused by international travel or community spread.

  • The health department did not indicate in its statement on Saturday where the deceased patients had traveled to or if officials were attempting to determine who they came in contact with.
  • The Florida health department did not immediately respond to request for comment. Multiple responders on the state's COVID-19 call center hotline declined to comment on the record.

What you can do: Florida residents are advised to avoid close contact with those who are sick, wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

The big picture: Organizers canceled the AFL-CIO presidential forum, at which 2020 candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were due to speak on Thursday, because of concerns about the virus outbreak.

Go deeper... Coronavirus updates: More than 100 countries report cases

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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