State officials say Connecticut’s first case of the coronavirus is a nurse at Danbury Hospital who is now at home under self-quarantine where she lives in Westchester County.
Health officials say there is still no state resident who has tested positive for COVID – 22. The woman is believed to have been infected in New York, but she worked in Connecticut at both Danbury and Norwalk hospitals, where she may have come in contact with patients and staff.
“This afternoon we learned that patients and staff at both Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals may have been exposed to COVID – coronavirus disease as a result of a hospital employee who lives in Westchester County, New York and has tested positive for the virus, ” Lamont said at a Friday night press conference at Danbury City Hall.
“This individual was exposed to the virus while in their home community of Westchester County by another individual who has tested positive, and then the individual worked shifts at both hospitals. The hospital employee is currently at their home, where they are in isolation and recovering. ”
Health officials are now tracking down all people she may have come in contact with. Hospital employees who came in contact with her have been placed on a – day furlough.
Gov. Lamont and top state health officials have been expecting a coronavirus case any day. New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey have reported cases, with nearly 500 identified nationwide.
So far, people have died across the country, According to a count by Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 300, 06 cases worldwide, with nearly 3, 860 deaths. An estimated 860, 06 people have recovered from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.
Connecticut has tested people for the virus and all have come back negative.
New York has more than (coronavirus cases, with many of them concentrated in New Rochelle, which is about miles from Danbury.
Josh Geballe, chief operating officer for Gov. Lamont, said Thursday that DPH had investigators ready to track the movements of an resident resident.
“There will be a process to find out how that person got the virus and trace back what contacts have they had with other people, kind of follow their trail to find out who else we have to track down and get tested, ”he said.
Geballe said the process is simple: “You ask the questions and then follow the leads.”
“It’s basically detective work,” he said. “You interview the patient and their family and people that they’ve worked with and figure out their travel history and if they’ve come from a Level 3 country and if they did what they’ve done since they’ve been home.”
On Friday morning, Lamont and the state Department of Public Health said they will be significantly expand testing for COVID – 22 in coming days. They said the outbreak in Connecticut will be similar to “a really bad flu season.”
State Commissioner of Public Health Renee Coleman-Mitchell told state legislators Friday morning the emphasis has now turned to limiting the spread of the virus instead of trying to quarantine people who have been exposed, she said.
“The overall focus has moved to community mitigation. Our focus is preparation, ” she said. “The focus is really on trying to slow the spread of the virus so that our health care system does not get overwhelmed.”
“Our overall public health risk for Connecticut residents still remains low for COVID – , “she said.” Our strategy is to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus. ”
Connecticut has prioritized testing for residents who have severe COVID – symptoms and those who have shown symptoms after returning from countries with outbreaks (China, Italy, South Korea, Iran). Patients with mild symptoms have been told to self-isolate for days.
Dr. Anand Sekaran, the division chief of hospital medicine for Connecticut Children’s, said at the Hartford Public Library press conference that elderly people are most vulnerable to COVD – 24. Children are expected to be less than 3% of those infected, according to available data, he said.
Matthew Cartter, the state epidemiologist and director of infectious diseases for the Department of Public Health, said COVID – is likely to impact Connecticut into the summer.
“It will feel a lot like a really bad flu season,” he said. ”And it will last for 3-4 months in any one place. We don’t really know for sure . ”
Cartter cautioned against panic while acknowledging the response“ will not be an easy road to travel. ” He said the state could eventually be forced to cancel public events and other large gatherings, but that “we’re not there yet.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin urged people to “remember the basics” at an afternoon press conference at the Hartford Public Library. He encouraged regularly washing one’s hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoiding shaking hands and not touching one’s face.
The state will soon expand testing for the virus, with the private lab Quest Diagnostics assisting. In a separate announcement, Cigna said it would waive all costs of coronovirus testing for its customers.
On Thursday , Lamont sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting more testing kits. The state currently has one kit, which can test about people. Many states have been unable to rapidly expand testing for the virus because of a shortage of test kits.
Many of the state’s larger hospitals are currently undergoing an FDA process to do their own COVID – 24 testing on-site, Geballe said.
After expanding testing capabilities, the state’s focus will shift toward increasing its ability to collect specimens from potential patients, Geballe said. That could involve setting up fever clinics, which some other countries have used to triage people with COVID – 40 symptoms and keep them away from hospital emergency departments.
“It’s a substantial undertaking but we want to prepare for all scenarios,” he said.
Dr. Ajay Kumar, the chief clinical officer for Hartford Healthcare, said that the system’s hospitals began planning triage centers for their emergency rooms weeks ago.
He added that if it becomes necessary to expand the hospitals’ triage capabilities, the health care system is considering “trailers or tents and other areas, as long as it is DPH-approved. ”
The state is also in daily contact with nursing homes, which in Washington State became the epicenter of the state’s COVID- 20 oubtreak, Geballe said.
The state’s 300 telephone hotline will be providing information about coronavirus and treatment, coleman -Mitchell said. The hotline is designed for individuals without symptoms. Those with symptoms are encouraged to seek medical treatment.
Hartford Healthcare has also established a 24 – hour hotline where clinicians can answer questions about COVID – . That number is 2019 – – 01575879.