First Coronavirus case confirmed in Sumter County

A Sumter County man is confirmed to have the Coronavirus – the first person to show a positive result in the county that contains the overwhelming majority of Villages households.

The man’s age wasn’t available, nor was the area he lives in. But he is confirmed to be a travel-related case.

Lake County also reported its second case of the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday, a man between the ages of 56-75. He and a previously identified woman in her 60s who lives in the Lady Lake Mobile Home Park also are being identified as travel-related cases.

One news agency reported early Wednesday afternoon that one of the two new patients is a Villages resident. That hasn’t been confirmed with Villages-News.com by health department officials.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 314 cases of the Coronavirus in Florida, with 2,493 people tested and 878 being monitored. Broward County has the most victims with 80, followed by Miami-Dade County with 76 and Palm Beach County with 19. All told, there are 7,324 known cases in the United States and more than 207,600 across the world.

No cases have yet been identified Marion County. But three have been reported in Citrus County, which is adjacent to both Sumter and Marion County. Seven patients also have been identified in Alachua County, which is north of Marion County.

The reporting of the Sumter County case comes one day after the County Commission declared a state of emergency over the Coronavirus outbreak. That action, which was taken during Tuesday night’s commission meeting, is in effect for seven days and can be renewed by another vote of the board of commissioners. It vests power in emergency management director David Casto.

Dr. Sanford D. Zelnick, director of the Sumter County Health Department, said it’s extremely important for residents to “redouble” their efforts in social distancing, as well as other hygienic practices to prevent community spread. He also encouraged residents to avoid congregating in large groups – now defined as 10 or more people – and to stay calm.

“As community recreation centers postpone events, please do not transition to driveway gatherings or potluck events,” he said, imploring residents to also cancel unnecessary travel.

Zelnick said residents should contact facilities where people are cared for ahead of time for guidance on how visits can be safely conducted using distancing methods. He also said those who are hoarding needed supplies should stop that practice, as it hampers community prevention efforts.

Zelnick pointed out that many cases of the COVID-19 illness can be managed at home and residents are encouraged to do that. But he cautioned that if they start developing worsening symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or inability to take fluids by mouth, they should call 911 and inform the operator of their circumstances.

“Please support each other with food and supplies left at the door, for those neighbors who are ill,” he said.

Zelnick added that if, as a community, everyone modifies their daily social activities as he has outlined, the potential effects of exposure likely will be reduced or attenuated.

“The curve of any community spread will be flattened, which will enable our ambulances and hospitals to more effectively respond,” he said.

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