Five people who attended meeting with DeSantis in Florida test positive for coronavirus

Five people who attended a Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) meeting last week with Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrans rights under attack: The persecution should stop now Florida first lady Casey DeSantis completes chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE (R) have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Monday.

Nanette Schimpf, a spokesperson for the Florida Sheriffs Association, confirmed to The Hill that the FSA warned top state elected officials, including DeSantis, and all attendees about their possible exposure to COVID-19 two days after the meeting.

Sixty people attended the meeting at a Bonita Springs hotel, the News Service of Florida reported. Schimpf told the news service that the association and the hotel "took every precaution" and “exceeded” social distancing recommendations during the event with required masks, one table per person set 10 feet apart from each other and disinfection of the area every hour.


She said the meeting followed all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and county guidelines and reduced its expected attendance by 75 percent.

Nonetheless, an unidentified attendee told the association that they tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday.

"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," Schimpf said.

By Monday, Florida Corrections Secretary Mark Inch, Corrections Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz all received positive test results. 

Although all five attended the Sheriffs Association meeting, it is not known whether they contracted the disease there or somewhere else. 

Cody McCloud, a spokesperson for DeSantis, said there is "no indication" that the governor was in "close contact with the individuals who have since tested positive for COVID-19."


"As the Governor noted during a press conference yesterday, he is tested regularly and does not have nor has had any symptoms," he said in a statement.

Schimpf told the news service that the association held its meeting in-person to enable officials to discuss confidential 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.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) and incoming state House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) were also present during the meeting, the news service noted.

Florida's seven-day average in newly identified coronavirus cases has fallen to 8,448 cases per day. The state has been an epicenter for the pandemic in the U.S. throughout July.

--Updated at 10:13 a.m.