Coronavirus: Five who attended same meeting as Florida governor Ron DeSantis test positive for virus

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Five people who attended the same meeting as some of Florida’s top officials, including governor Ron DeSantis, have tested positive for coronavirus, reports have said.

The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) saw 60 attendees gather for a meeting at Bonita Springs hotel last Monday, The News Service of Florida reported.

Gov DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls and sheriffs from various parts of Florida were among those who attended the event, according to the report.

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Two days after the meeting, an unidentified attendee notified the FSA that they had tested positive Covid-19, a spokesperson for the association told The News Service.

Gov DeSantis and his staff were among the people who were notified about their potential exposure to the virus, Nanette Schimpf, the spokesperson, said.

The FSA also confirmed to The Hill that the association had warned top state elected officials, including Gov DeSantis, and all attendees that they may have been exposed.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, the governor said he was tested for Covid-19 two days ago and suggested his test result had been negative.

“I’m tested regularly, and I don’t have or have not had any symptoms,” Gov DeSantis said.

“The number of times I’ve been tested has been pretty significant, and I’ve had my temperature checked probably 100 times in the last few months.”

Corrections Secretary Mark Inch, Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz are among those who have tested positive since the meeting, The News Service reported.

Cody McCloud, a spokesperson for Mr DeSantis, told The Hill that there is “no indication” that the governor was in “close contact with the individuals who have since tested positive for Covid-19”.

Ms Schimpf told The News Service that she only knew of five attendees who had tested positive for the virus as of Monday.

It is still not known exactly where or when each of the five people became infected with the disease.

The FSA told the outlet that it was necessary to hold the meeting in person, partly because confidential information was discussed.

“We can’t accomplish everything that needs to be done via a Zoom call,” Ms Schimpf said. “Sheriffs only get together once or twice a year to receive valuable training, discuss confidential topics, current public safety trends, and best practices, as well as legislative priorities.”

The association told The News Service that it “exceeded” social distancing guidelines at the event and implemented stringent hygiene measures such as face masks and cleaning at hourly intervals.

“FSA provided notice to all participants the same day, and that attendee also personally called anyone they interacted with at the meeting as an additional notification measure,” Ms Schimpf said.

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