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Editor’s note: This story was published March 18 and was accurate at the time, but the situation may have changed.

As of March 18, the Florida Department of Health reports there are now nine cases of coronavirus in Volusia County.

Under state law, the Health Department does not disclose the specific locations of the victims, but only their age, gender and county of residence. While some county officials resent not being informed about the locations of the coronavirus cases, Health Department Communications Director Holly Smith says there is a good reason for shielding the personal details of those being treated or monitored.

“If people feel that their information is not being kept private, they may not come forward,” Smith noted.

As for fears that first responders — police, firefighters, paramedics, ambulance crews — may be put at severe risk if they answer an emergency call at the homes of the coronavirus patients in self-quarantine, Smith said that confidential information about the victims is available in the computer-aided dispatch systems used by emergency services.

Each of the cases in Volusia County resulted from contact with someone who had traveled internationally, had been on a cruise vacation, or had been in close proximity with someone showing the symptoms, she added.

“I cough, and you get it,” Smith said, adding that health care providers are still seeking to determine how the illness is spreading. “Who was within 6 feet of you for three minutes?”

“We do not have any evidence of ‘community spread’ in Volusia County,” Health Department Administrator Patricia Boswell said.

“Community spread” is the term used to describe the transmission of the disease to people in an area who are not certain how or where they became infected — meaning, that they have not recently traveled somewhere the virus is prevalent.

County leaders are calling upon their constituents to practice good hygiene, including frequent hand-washing and social distancing. People are also encouraged to avoid shaking hands with friends and acquaintances.

Officials also advise avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel to prevent the spread of the virus. Isolation, meaning quarantine, is a key to combat the disease, County Chair Ed Kelley noted.

“If we could stop the spread with all known cases, it would go away,” he said. “We have zero community spread in Volusia County at this point.”


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