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State health leader in Orange County believes he contracted coronavirus in January

Dr. Raul Pino: "I even said my prayers. I was scared.”

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The man in charge of leading the Florida Department of Health in Orange County through the coronavirus pandemic said he believes he had the illness in January before cases were reported to the state.

Dr. Raul Pino's comments came during an Orange County government COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday.

"I think I had it in January, myself," he said.

He said he believes some cases could have hit Central Florida in December.

"Pandemics don’t get that explosive that fast," he said.

He shared what he experienced during his illness with News 6.

"I have never experienced anything like it," he said.

He said his symptoms matched what other people have experienced with COVID-19.

"I remember losing my sense of taste and smell. I thought that was strange. At the time, I didn’t know that that was one of the early symptoms," he said. "Then one night, I slept for 14 hours. I normally sleep no more than six. Then, I started feeling really lousy. I even said my prayers. I was scared."

Pino said he went to the emergency room for treatment, and he was off of work for one week recovering.

He said he had not been tested for antibodies yet, but he would be first in line to get one when the Florida Department of Health offers them to employees.

"The antibody test is not the best yet. It was done to rush and fill the needs, but it is important," he said.

During antibody testing, Pino said FDOH was hoping to learn more about when people may have experienced their COVD-19 symptoms.

The Palm Beach Post reports state health leaders were compiling information about cases that hit before February but removed the information from the state website on Monday.

Pino said when the history book is written, researchers may find out the virus was in Florida last year.


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