ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – President Donald Trump and state leaders are trying to determine when to fully open up the country, without creating another wave of COVID-19 infections.
But the question is, who is keeping track of the number of recoveries? And what are the guidelines that determine who is truly free of this contagious strain of coronavirus?
As of Friday afternoon, it showed more than half a million people worldwide are reportedly recovering from the virus, with more than 56,000 of them here in the United States. While it does show a country by country breakdown, it does not break it down by state.
So who is keeping track of Florida's recovery numbers?
The Florida Department of Health is not posting the number of recoveries on their dashboard.
Instead, it focuses only on the number of total cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and test results.
Late Friday evening, the Joint Information Center on COVID-19 for the State of Florida at the Florida State Emergency Operations Center sent News 6 this statement explaining the conflict they are facing trying to capture and report accurate recovery data.
"The state is developing new efforts daily as we respond to COVID-19 to keep Floridians and visitors safe and informed about the status of the virus. Currently, there are multiple ways for recovered cases to be recorded and several methods are used by different countries and states. Some states and countries measure a case as recovered when a person has had COVID-19 for more than 14 days, while others upon hospital discharge data - neither of which completely capture recovery of the full COVID positive population. The Florida Department of Health will continue to provide information on hospitalizations and deaths to keep the public informed about the threat of the virus."
But News 6 confirms at least one county is keeping track of it's recovered cases - Seminole County.
During Seminole County's regularly scheduled Facebook Live briefing, Emergency Management Director Alan Harris confirmed the latest number of cases, including the number of reported recoveries.
"We are at 313 positive cases of COVID 19 in the county, and 218 of those are completed," said Harris during the Facebook Live post. "Completed again means that they have no signs and symptoms, and they have met their entire quarantine and isolation periods."
Harris also confirmed the number of deaths from COVID-19 had jumped to 4 in Seminole County as of Friday morning.
“I was worried about a stigma originally but not so much now,” said Gabriella Bivona, a UCF student who said she contracted the virus during a trip to London.
Bivona is one of the more than 300 documented people in Seminole County who tested positive for COVID -19, and who has reportedly recovered from the virus. But she says she is still staying at home with her mom and practicing social distancing just to be safe.
"I think having recovered from symptoms is different than recovered from the virus entirely," said Bivona. "And we're not going to get those results until we get more widespread testing."
Bivona even requested and received a letter from the Seminole County Department of Health clearing her from quarantine.
"I specifically asked to receive documentation confirming that just in case anything were to happen," said Bivona.
Mirna Chamorro with the Florida Department of Health Seminole County confirms a letter may be provided and that the FDOH follows the DCD guidelines when it comes to “discontinuing isolation for people with COVID 19”. She confirms the number of positive cases cleared is not included in the FDOH current dashboard.
The Florida Health Department branch in Seminole County confirms the CDC guidelines for clearing residents include being fever-free for at least three days, improvements in respiratory symptoms, and being at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Those in the healthcare field also have to have tested negative on 2 follow up COVI-19 tests within a 24 hour period.
Bivona says since there are only a limited amount of tests and she was never retested, she will never know if she is truly free of the COVID 19 virus.
“We need to be focusing on those antibody tests, and seeing who all has had it, and didn’t even know! And they are fully recovered and nobody even knew they had it in the first place,” said Bivona.