Case of COVID-19 confirmed in Westchester, Cuomo says; second case in the state

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WESTCHESTER, N.Y.— A second person has tested positive for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday morning.

The case was confirmed in Westchester County. The 50-year-old man is a New Rochelle resident who works at a law firm in Midtown Manhattan and lives in a home with school-age children.

Cuomo said the man apparently had an underlying respiratory illness and no known travel history to China or other countries on the virus watch list.

He recently traveled to Miami in early February, officials said.

Gov. Cuomo speaks on the patient during a Tuesday morning press conference in the video below.

According to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the patient remains at the hospital in serious condition.

“Yesterday, a New York State resident with respiratory issues was diagnosed with the Coronavirus at a New York City hospital. The patient remains hospitalized and is in serious condition. City and State disease detectives are working closely to identify close contacts and the appropriate next steps. The test was conducted by the New York City Public Health Laboratory on our first day of testing. With the results confirmed within a number of hours, we were immediately able to take next steps to stop the spread of this virus. We have said from the beginning that it is likely we will see more positive cases of the Coronavirus. We are working closely with our State and Federal partners to ensure we are taking the highest precautions to keep New Yorkers safe.”

The man’s wife and two of their children are also being tested for possible exposure, and are self-quarantined in the family’s home.

The SAR Academy in Riverdale, where one of man’s children goes to school, was closed Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, according to the governor.

That child was not exhibiting symptoms as of Tuesday, but one of the man’s other children is, de Blasio said. The son showing symptoms is an undergraduate student at Yeshiva University in Manhattan.

The city health department is working with the patient’s law firm and both schools to follow up with anyone who had contact with him or his children to make sure they get tested, de Blasio said.

Young Israel of New Rochelle, where the patient’s family attends religious services in New Rochelle, also closed.

The man’s two other children were in Israel as of Tuesday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said at a news conference.

Officials are also grappling with the fact that he’d been admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital last week and stayed there for five days without anyone knowing he had COVID-19, according to Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler.

“Where did they go, who did they talk with?” Dr. Amler said. “These are the questions we need answered.”

He was moved to a hospital in Washington Heights, Manhattan, after he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Latimer said. “Community spread [of the virus] seems to be at hand.”

Twelve people in Westchester are quarantined as a precaution, according to Latimer.

Despite the situation, the county executive said he and his managers are optimistic: “We are not at the highest level of alert.”

Cuomo said earlier that two families in Buffalo who recently traveled to Italy are being tested for the coronavirus and are isolated in their homes.

Colleges in the SUNY system are contemplating whether or not students in abroad programs should be sent home. The decision will be made later Tuesday.

New York announced its first confirmed case of the virus Sunday.

The 39-year-old woman who lives in Manhattan contracted the virus while in Iran, officials said. She is currently isolated in her home. Her conditions are not serious.

More than 88,000 worldwide have been infected and the death toll worldwide has reached at least 3,000.

For those who feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and traveled to areas experiencing coronavirus outbreaks or came into contact with someone with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Health Department website.

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