LIVE OAK — An 18th confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Suwannee County was announced Sunday morning by the Florida Department of Health.

The latest patient is a 38-year-old female, who had close contact to an existing confirmed case.

The Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County (DOH-Suwannee) is now conducting its contact investigation and working on identifying and notifying individuals who will need to self-monitor for symptoms for a 14-day period. Contact investigations are a critical way for staff epidemiologists to track and prevent the spread of disease.

Seventeen of the 18 cases from the county are connected, with 17 being staff or residents at a long-term care facility. 

There have been 159 people sampled for testing from Suwannee County with 138 negative tests and three still awaiting results. Four have been hospitalized: two 80-year-old males, a 78-year-old female and a 60-year-old female.

At a special called meeting of the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday morning, Waldron reiterated that not everybody needs to be tested. Rather, those with symptoms that meet the criteria following a screening have samples taken that are sent to be tested. The symptoms include fever, coughing, respiratory issues and breathing issues, Waldron said.

Waldron added that priority is given to individuals in the hospital with symptoms, healthcare facility workers with symptoms, those people with underlying medical issues that have symptoms, long-term medical care facility patients with symptoms, first responders with symptoms and people 65 and older with symptoms.

Those that are prioritized have their samples sent to the state lab for testing which returns results within 24 to 48 hours. Other samples are sent to commercial labs which can take up to a week to return results, Waldron said.

Hamilton and Lafayette counties have had no confirmed cases. There have been 41 tests conducted from Hamilton County with 40 negative results and one still pending. In Lafayette County, 23 people have been tested, all coming back negative.

Columbia County is up to 14 confirmed cases with four new cases announced Sunday morning. The Lake City Police Department confirmed Saturday that one of its officers tested positive Friday.

There have been seven confirmed cases in Madison County.

Statewide, there are now 12,151 confirmed cases with 218 deaths tied to the virus. There have been 1,490 people admitted to the hospital across the state with the virus.

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