A day after the first two deaths in the state of Florida were reported from the Coronavirus, a top GOP ally of President Donald Trump publicly expressed concern on Saturday that the citizens of his state were not operating with all of the necessary information to deal with the outbreak, citing one of the deaths announced Friday night by health officials.
"I was a little surprised - I was very surprised actually - when I heard about the death in Lee County, which is adjoining to the county I live in," said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) in an interview on Fox News.
"We didn't know there was even a presumptive case," Scott added.
"The case in Lee County was not previously known as the deceased was only tested after they had passed away," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
As of Saturday morning, Florida health officials said they had identified 13 cases of COVID-19 in the state, resulting in two deaths, with dozens of test results still pending.
One Florida resident was evidently overseas when stricken, as health officials say that unidentified person is "isolated at a federally designated site until healthy."
I am concerned we found out about the Lee County case after there was a death.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) March 7, 2020
The people have the right to know and be given the most up to date information as possible regarding any presumptive or confirmed cases. This is vital for the public health & safety of all Floridians. pic.twitter.com/Olq7iwAdKS
Scott, a former Governor of Florida, said his experience with Zika and hurricanes taught him one basic lesson.
"The people have the right to know and be given the most up to date information as possible," Scott said.
"We are all worried about our families. I get lots of phone calls from family members, from friends, from citizens, they want more information so they can make a good decision," the Florida Republican added.
Vice President Mike Pence was visiting Florida on Saturday afternoon to meet with executives of the cruise ship industry, as the feds deal with several thousand people on a boat waiting off the coast of California, where 21 of 46 people tested were found to have the virus.
"We want to recognize, from the experience now of two cruise ships, that cruise ships represent a unique challenge for health officials, and so we would ask elderly Americans to use common sense and caution in planning any cruise ship vacation in the future," Pence told reporters Friday evening in Washington.
Passengers board MSC, Celebrity & NCL ships at Port Everglades for Caribbean cruises as VP Mike Pence, other pols prepare to meet with cruise company execs about their handling of the coronavirus outbreak. https://t.co/mDZKnNdCzE pic.twitter.com/4OeogoTKWo— Taylor Dolven (@taydolven) March 7, 2020
As the Vice President was in Fort Lauderdale, President Trump was not far up the road at one of his golf courses on Saturday, a day after he visited the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
"We’re prepared. We are, really, very highly prepared for anything," the President told reporters.
"They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test," added Mr. Trump, though anecdotal evidence clearly disputed his assertion on the ready availablity of testing.
"He straight up lied - said everyone can get tested when, in fact, almost no one can," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT).
Back in Florida, Sen. Scott said the goal should be simple.
"Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but do everything you can to keep the public informed, so they can make an informed decision," Scott said.
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