What to Know
- New York has confirmed the state’s first positive test of the new virus that has sickened tens of thousands of people across the globe
- A statement Sunday from Gov. Cuomo’s office says a woman in her late 30s contracted the virus while traveling in Iran
- She is a health care worker, as is her husband; both are isolated at their home in Manhattan
A 39-year-old Manhattan woman has tested positive for COVID-19, more commonly known as the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Sunday. She is the first confirmed case in the city and in the tri-state area.
“The patient, a woman in her late thirties, contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran, and is currently isolated in her home,” Cuomo said in making the announcement late Sunday.
The governor said that the woman is a health care worker, and that her background allowed her to take the appropriate precautions and seek testing. She flew back to New York on Tuesday but did not take mass transit home, Cuomo said Monday. As a precaution, the people on her flight and the ride-share driver are being notified about potential exposure, but Cuomo said the woman was not thought to be contagious at that time. Her husband, also a health care worker, is in isolation with her at their Manhattan home.
She has respiratory symptoms but she is not thought to be in serious condition. It wasn’t immediately clear if her husband had shown symptoms as well. Those are likely to appear as soon as two days after exposure, or up to two weeks later, according to the CDC.
New York City’s health officials announced Sunday morning two people were being tested for COVID-19, and both had recently traveled to the city from Iran. Both tests were being evaluated at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, the New York State Department of Health’s spokesperson said. It wasn’t clear if one of those two cases was the woman who tested positive.
NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot previously said that due to the federal government expanding its criteria for virus testing to include Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, more people are expected to be tested.
“Viruses don’t respect borders and this broader definition will help us cast a wider net to detect the virus. We expect the number of cases under investigation to grow,” Barbot said.
New York City’s Bellevue Hospital is one of several local medical centers preparing for a possible outbreak. It’s part of NYC Health + Hospitals, which has 1,200 beds available system-wide that could be readily available in case the virus becomes widespread, according to de Blasio.
Still, there’s no cause for panic, local officials stress.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these seven tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cuomo said Monday that New York had “been through this rodeo before” with other viral outbreaks, and pointed out that the common flu poses a more widespread threat than COVID-19.
“When you look at the reality here, about 80 percent of people infected with coronavirus self-resolve,” the governor added. As for some who may lean toward panic in this time, Cuomo said, “I’m a native New Yorker, we live with anxiety, but the facts don’t back it up.”
De Blasio echoed Cuomo’s sentiments.
“The message to New Yorkers from the beginning is this is something we can handle. Go about your lives, go about your business,” he said. “Our health authorities have been in a state of high alert for weeks, and we are fully prepared to respond. We will continue to ensure New Yorkers have the facts and resources they need to protect themselves.”
But be smart, de Blasio added. Anyone with symptoms who has had some nexus to the outbreak, whether through travel to an affected country or other means, should act accordingly and protectively.
There have been more than 88,000 cases of the new virus worldwide, with at least 3,000 deaths reported around the globe. The number of countries hit by the virus has climbed past 60. Most of the deaths have been the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
The United States has thus far seen just one death — a man in Washington state, officials said over the weekend. The same day that death was announced, President Trump approved new restrictions on international travel to prevent the spread within the U.S. of the new virus, which originated in China.
The travel restrictions applied to Iran — although travel there by Americans was already severely limited — as well as heavily affected regions of Italy and South Korea.
Confirmed Coronavirus Cases
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