Florida faces a potential shortage of testing kits if large numbers of people begin showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

Florida faces a potential shortage of testing kits if large numbers of people begin showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

Stopping far short of saying that state health officials are hampered in their efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, DeSantis acknowledged that current supplies would be inadequate if large numbers of people fall ill.

"We certainly believe that (more testing kits) would help things especially if we have a situation where we have a surge of people who are showing up with symptoms," DeSantis said, announcing that a fifth Florida resident has tested positive. "To be unable to do that local test would be a big, big deal."

He said he is hopeful additional testing kits would be received soon from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I know they have tens of thousands that will certainly be en route, but we don’t have them yet," he said during a news conference in rural Gadsden County in the Panhandle.

A national shortage of testing kits occurred when problems were discovered with the first batch that was shipped out in February. However, the CDC noted on its website, some of the original testing kits can continue to be used to make initial assessments. Enough kits are available to test more than 75,000 people, it said.

At a news conference Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said roughly 2,500 testing kits, capable of testing 1.5 million patients, would be going out this week to public health centers across the country.

State officials didn’t respond to questions about when they expect additional kits to arrive or how many they are slated to receive.

An $8.3 billion emergency spending bill that cleared the U.S. Senate on Thursday and is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump includes funding for laboratory testing to detect positive cases, said Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

While the CDC describes the health threat posed by the coronavirus as "very high," DeSantis insisted that both the state and the nation are in good shape.

"The risk to Florida remains low and the risk to the country remains low," he said. "Just take proper precautions. We want to do what we can to contain the limited number of cases that we have."

An elderly Panhandle man, who is the latest Florida resident diagnosed with the virus, is a prime example of those at risk, DeSantis said.

The Santa Rosa County resident is in his 70s and has "severe underlying conditions," DeSantis said. While state officials are investigating, the governor said the man is "not in shape to fully answer all the questions."

Frail seniors, like the man and those in nursing homes, are most vulnerable to the virus that has claimed more than a dozen victims in the U.S. and thousands worldwide, DeSantis said. To prove his point, he cited statistics from South Korea.

While 5,000 people in the Asian nation have fallen ill, no one under the age of 30 has died and few under the age of 50 have succumbed to the virus, he said.

The Santa Rosa man joins three others in the Tampa Bay area who have tested positive for COVID-19. Two sisters in Hillsborough County, who traveled in Italy, and a Manatee man in his 60s are also infected.

Another Florida resident contracted the virus in Asia and is in isolation in Washington state. Four other state residents who returned from China are being quarantined outside the state, DeSantis said. None will be allowed to return to Florida until tests show they are no longer infected.

Of the nine, only four are recovering in Florida.

So far, the impact on South Florida has been minimal.

Citing concerns about the spread of the virus, the Futures Industry Association on Thursday canceled its planned March 10-12 conference at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. The conference, which attracts about 1,000 traders from around the world, plans to return next year.

Also, the Ultra Music Festival, set to take place March 20-22 in Miami, had been postponed, possibly for a year. Last year, the annual outdoor electronic music festival drew more than 100,000 people.

Other events, such as the Palm Beach International Boat Show, are still on, organizers said.

Like public health officials, DeSantis urged residents to take simple precautions: wash your hands regularly, don’t come in close contact with sick people and cover your face while sneezing and throw out the tissue.

But, he said, don’t buy masks.

Health officials have said they are unnecessary and may be counterproductive, he said. Further, he said, impulse buying could create a shortage of masks that are needed by health professionals.

While the Florida Department of Health has 150,000 masks stockpiled, more are likely to be needed.

"We would love to see 3M (the manufacturer) produce millions in short order," he said.