Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees visits Martin County amidst hepatitis A concerns

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees visits Martin County amidst hepatitis A concerns
(Source: AP)

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — More help is coming to the Treasure Coast as hepatitis A concerns continue in Martin County.

Currently, the county has 30 confirmed cases since January 2019 and four deaths since the spring, according to the Florida Department of Health.

State Rep. Toby Overdorf announced Wednesday that Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees visited Martin County for the first time since he was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez joined Rivkees for a roundtable discussion with Overdorf, Rep. MaryLynn Magar and State Sen. Gayle Harrell.

“We can rest assured that we are now on a path back to safety on the Treasure Coast and that this issue is receiving the attention, that frankly, it deserves,” Overdorf said.

During the meeting, Overdorf said Rivkees laid out his plan to get hepatitis A under control in the state, saying it is a top priority.

That includes securing a partnership with the CDC to come to the state, including the Treasure Coast, in the very near future.

“The new Surgeon General bringing in the CDC will help us, will support the state in prevention, a treatment plan, diagnosis of the disease and outreach information. I think all of that is extremely important,” Magar said. “The expertise that he is going to bring to the table is going to make a world of difference to be able to bring teams together to address this situation.”

“Dr. Rivkees has proven his weight in gold with his systematic and immediate plan of action that we learned about today,” Overdorf said.

Overdorf said the Florida Department of Health in Martin County has also agreed to bring in a detective from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to assist with any investigative needs.

Cindy Collins’ husband, Lee Collins, was one of the four people who have died from the virus this year.

“There’s no need for anyone else to pass away from this,” Collins said.

She said she is glad to see more being done to prevent hepatitis A and continued research into any potential sources. While very rare to find, she finds comfort knowing state officials are now leaving no stone unturned.

“I think once [Rivkees] does his research and looks at all the medical records, if he concludes at the end he can’t find [a source] then I know everything has been done,” Collins said. “I think we’re going to get some answers, I really do.”

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office will be selecting two people to assist the health department, including a detective and a Community Oriented Policing Deputy. They plan to announce their names Thursday.

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