Florida Keys closing to visitors by Sunday, March 22; reports first coronavirus case

Tourists who planned to take the scenic drive along Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys will have to postpone that trip. 

Monroe County announced the Florida Keys is closing up shop. Starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 22, any hotel or visitor lodging site will have to shut down.

Businesses can no longer accept reservations. However, long-term renters are allowed to stay, but once their current contact is up, they are required to leave too.

"This was done in the interest of public safety and due to the number of increasing [coronavirus] cases in the counties north of Monroe County," according to a county statement.

RELATED: 6-year-old elementary school student tests positive for coronavirus in South Florida

The mandate will be in effect for 14 days, but could be extended. It applies to all visitors and all non-essential personnel who are not working in the Keys. County officials will reevaluate the ban every day. 

County-owned parks and beaches will remain open for residents "to practice social distancing that is productive for mental and physical health."

Late Thursday night, the Florida Department of Health announced that the Keys had its first possible case of coronavirus. According to county officials, there is a presumptive positive travel-related case.

Presumptive positive means a patient tested positive by a public health laboratory, but results are pending confirmation at the CDC.

"It has not been confirmed by the CDC yet. Location in the Keys was not said to protect the patient’s privacy," according to the county's Facebook page.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINKFlorida's COVID-19 website

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