MANHATTAN (CN) — The first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York state is a woman in her 30s who had recently traveled to Iran, officials announced Monday.
After China, the epicenter of the outbreak, Iran has the highest death toll in the world from COVID-19, the coronavirus that has infected nearly 90,000 people across the globe.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning that the Empire State’s first confirmed positive case of an individual who has the virus is a 39-year old health care worker who flew home to New York from Iran last week.
Cuomo described the woman’s case as mild, emphasizing that she did not take public transportation home from the airport and is currently self-quarantined at her Manhattan home.
“We don’t believe that she was contagious when she was on the plane or when she took a private car from the airport to her residence,” Cuomo said. “But out of an abundance of caution, we will be contacting the people who were on the flight with her from Iran to New York and the driver of that car service.”
The testing that confirmed the virus was done at Mount Sinai, Cuomo said.
Urging New Yorkers to “relax” their fears of a deadly pandemic, the governor announcing that that state had entered a piece of legislature to authorize $40 million emergency for additional staff and equipment.
“I want to make sure that the health care system has everything it needs,” Cuomo said Monday. “We’re going to be instituting new cleaning protocols in our schools, on public transportation, et cetera, where they will use a disinfectant.
“Many will use bleach, which is a good protocol in the flu season anyway. So, if people smell – if it smells like bleach when you get on a bus or when a child goes to school, it’s not bad cologne or perfume, it is bleach,” the governor added.
Cuomo said that the state will be focusing on facilities that treat senior citizens, debilitated people or immune-compromised people who are most likely most affected by this virus.
The governor sought to restore confidence to New York residents by reminding them of the state’s previous public health mobilizations.
“The facts defeat fear, because the reality is reassuring. It is deep breath time,” Cuomo said Monday. “This — first of all, this is not our first rodeo with this time of situation in New York.
“In 1968, we had the Honk Kong flu,” the governor continued. “In 2009, we had the Swine flu, where we actually closed like 100 schools in New York State. Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, MERS, measles, right? So, we have gone through this before.”
Cuomo said that the mortality rate for Coronavirus is estimated to be 1.4%, compared with the 0.6% of the normal flu.
“When you look at the reality here, 80% of the people who are infected with the Coronvirus self-resolve,” the governor.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said the same press conference Monday that that the virus is “not, so far, something that you get through casual contact.”
“There has to be some prolonged exposure,” DeBlasio said, urging New Yorkers with symptoms of the virus and recent travel the other countries impacted by the virus to take basic precautions and get checked up.
“If God forbid, it spread, spread, spread, the fact that this hour we have 1,200 beds ready right this moment should be very reassuring to New Yorkers,” the mayor said Monday.
Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, compelled New Yorkers to go about their daily lives and commutes.
“We want New Yorkers to lean even more into frequent hand washing and covering their mouths and their noses,” Barbot said Monday. “And if you can’t get to a water source, make alcohol-based hand sanitizer your new best friend,” she added.
Bardot previously served as the medical director of New York City public schools and as commissioner of health for the city of Baltimore.
Health officials in Washington state announced Sunday that a second person had died from the coronavirus in the state, at a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were ill and have been tested for the virus.
This was just two days after officials announced only the first death from the virus in the U.S. — a man in his 50s who was treated at the same hospital in Kirkland, Washington, east of Seattle.
Both men had underlying health conditions, officials noted.