ST. PETERSBURG — A Navy sailor assigned to the United States Central Command in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman said Saturday.
The sailor returned to the U.S. from overseas travel March 15 and went into precautionary quarantine at his home, CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in a news release.
CENTCOM is located at Macdill Air Force base in Tampa.
The sailor started developing symptoms March 18, then called ahead to Macdill health officials. He was met outside the base by doctors.
Officials said his test returned positive March 20.
Most people only experience minor flu-like symptoms from the coronavirus and recover within a few weeks, but the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear well. It can cause severe illness, including pneumonia, in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health problems.
More than 650 people had tested positive in the state as of Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health. The bulk of those have been in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. There have been 11 deaths statewide.
To stem the tide of infections, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned all onsite dining at restaurants statewide and the Seminole Tribe has closed its casinos. DeSantis on Friday also banned all nonemergency medical and dental procedures.
Restaurants were allowed to sell food for take-out and delivery.
The virus outbreak has dealt a huge blow to tourism, one of the main economic drivers in a state that does not collect income tax from its residents.
Disney World and Universal Studios — theme parks that attract millions of visitors from around the world — have been shuttered since Monday. And DeSantis and county officials have closed most of the state's popular beaches, especially after throngs of spring breakers were seen crowded together in South Florida and Clearwater on Thursday, touching off a major backlash on social media.