Five people who attended meeting with Florida governor test positive for COVID-19

Florida governor Ron DeSantis says he has tested negative

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Coronavirus tests
Judge Charles Dodson blocked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (above) and top education officials from forcing public schools to reopen. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Florida Sheriffs Association meeting which was attended by Gov. Ron DeSantis and others has resulted in five people testing positive for COVID-19.

The officials who attended the July 27 meeting were warned about possible exposure to the virus, The Tampa Bay reported Monday. It was held at Bonita Springs hotel and attended by more than 60 people. DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Corrections Secretary Mark Inch, incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls, and sheriffs from different parts of Florida were all in attendance.

Read More: Black girl, 9, youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis And Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez Hold Coronavirus Briefing
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes his mask off to speak at a news conference on the surge in coronavirus cases in the state held at the Jackson Memorial Hospital on July 13, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Nanette Schimpf, a spokesperson for The Florida Sheriffs Association, claimed the organization “exceeded” social distancing measures and face masks were required. She insisted it was necessary that the meeting took place in person due to sensitive information.

“We can’t accomplish everything that needs to be done via a Zoom call,” she 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.”

She said every measure was taken to ensure the health of those who attended. The hotel staff cleaned every hour, each attendee sat a seat apart from another and maintained a distance of 10 feet.

Read More: Florida officially has more coronavirus cases than New York

Those precautions did not prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Within days, Schimpf was informed that a person who participated in the meeting tested positive.

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Newly sworn-in Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event at the Freedom Tower where he named Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images,)

Soon, others came forward to reveal their positive diagnosis for COVID-19. As of Monday, the organization only knew of five individuals who tested positive.

Inch, Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon and Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood revealed they were infected. Inch began experiencing mild symptoms the day after the meeting. Dixon was asymptomatic but still tested positive. Both had also toured the Columbia Correctional Institution after the meeting where 1,300 inmates are infected.

Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz also confirmed that he contracted COVID-19 as well.  Neither of the individuals has been hospitalized and are self-isolating.

Read More: Blacks more likely to be impacted financially by COVID-19 pandemic

DeSantis told reporters on Tuesday that he tested for COVID-19 two days ago and the results were negative.

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

Florida continues to be a hotbed for the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, The Florida Department of Health reported that there were 245 virus fatalities which brings the death toll to 7,402. In July, there was a record set for 15,300 new cases in one day but the state has been trying to bring that number down.

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