Rhode Island (WTNH/WPRI) — The state of Rhode Island announced Sunday that it has two presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus.
In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Governor Gina Raimondo emphasized that “The risk here in Rhode Island is low and we have been preparing for this for weeks…The message is to be careful, be vigilant, but don’t panic.”
She said she has been getting twice-daily briefings from the DOH, schools, mayors, and her team.
Governor Raimondo urged the public to be smart about their health: use hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are sick, and inform your children of what to do to stay healthy.
Rhode Island’s Health Department representative said the same measures to prevent the spread of the flu can prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The first patient Rhode Island’s Health Department released information on is a patient in their 40’s, who had traveled to Italy, France, and Spain in mid-February. The department says it is working closely with the hospital where the patient is being treated.
A statement from St. Raphael Academy, a Catholic school in Pawtucket, confirmed the man is a member of their community, and that students would have “virtual days” and study remotely on Monday and Tuesday. The school also released a list of FAQ’s.
“Saint Raphael Academy is saddened to confirm that a member of our community has had a ‘presumptive positive’ test result to the coronavirus,” the statement said. “It is important to note that this member of the community has not been at the Academy since returning from Europe, and none of his immediate family members are symptomatic at this time.”
The school said students and chaperones who were also on the European trip will be out of school and under self-quarantine until March 9, a directive of the R.I. Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The school said administrators are directing all other students, faculty, and staff to stay home for the next two days out of an abundance of caution while the campus is sanitized. All after-school activities and sports practices are canceled. Classes and extracurricular activities will resume as normal on March 4.
The second patient with a presumptive positive case is a teenager. Rhode Island’s Health Department says she is at home with mild symptoms.
An adult in her 30’s has also been tested and is at home with mild symptoms.
Both individuals were on the same trip to Europe in mid-February with the first patient. The adult whose test results are still pending is a staff member at Achievement First Academy in Providence, which will be closed for two days.
“All three people went on the same trip to Italy,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott. “This is precisely why we are being so aggressive in identifying contacts, ensuring monitoring, and testing people who are symptomatic.”
WEB EXTRA: Rhode Island’s Governor and Department of Public Health officials give update Sunday on the possible first confirmed case of coronavirus in the state
The RIDOH released the following statement Sunday assuring the public they are prepared to treat patients with COVID-19 and prevent its spread:
The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19. We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low. However, everyone in Rhode Island has a role to play in helping us prevent the spread of viruses, just like the flu. It is very important that people wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they are sick.Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island Depatment of Health
RIDOH reports that it has already contacted about 40 people who have come in direct contact with the first patient; those individuals will be monitored by DOH nurses as they self-quarantine. The patient’s family has self-quarantined for a period of 14 days as a precaution.
According to RIDOH, the first patient had limited travel within Rhode Island since returning from Italy and has not returned to their place of work since returning from Italy.
The CDC recommends anyone ill – whether with coronavirus or not – wear facemasks, and does not recommend individuals who are well to wear one.