Topline: New York City’s first case of coronavirus was reported by the New York Times Sunday evening.
- The patient, a woman in her 30’s, is isolated in her home in Manhattan, according to a New York state official, and had recently been to Iran, according to the Times.
- The patient’s test was conducted and confirmed by New York state, according to a state official, after the FDA approved the state on Saturday to run its own tests.
- 1.5 million masks have been distributed to healthcare workers, with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio saying 300,000 more masks are needed from the federal government, among other protective gear.
- Also in New York City: 1,200 hospital beds are available for coronavirus patients, while plans for possible quarantines at hotels, hospitals and homes are being made.
- New York City’s subway and bus system could limit or stagger service, according to the New York Times, and transit workers have posted thousands of signs throughout the system encouraging riders to wash hands and avoid close contact with sick people.
- San Francisco preemptively declared a state of emergency Tuesday, which will free up funding from state and federal governments that will reimburse its preparedness efforts, and allows it to direct city employees to focus on coronavirus response, including public health nurses, social workers and case managers.
Crucial quote: “The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York,” said New York governor Andrew Cuomo in a Sunday evening statement. “There is no reason for undue anxiety—the general risk remains low in New York.”
Big number: $40 million. That’s how much money New York state has set aside for coronavirus efforts. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the funds will be used to hire additional staff, procure equipment and other resources to combat coronavirus, according to NBC’s New York affiliate.
Chief critic: U.S. surgeon general Jerome M. Adams. “Seriously people,” he tweeted from his official account Saturday, “STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
What to watch for: “We encourage everyone to take the standard precautions they would during any flu season,” said Patrick Warren, chief safety officer of the New York City’s mass transit system, which means covering one’s face when they sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently. New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot said anyone feeling coronavirus symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
Key background: Up until Sunday, New York City had zero confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 32 people have been tested for the disease, according to a New York state official. Only the Manhattan patient’s test results came back positive, but there are 76 total cases nationwide. New York officials have already asked 700 recent visitors from China to self quarantine. In California, 33 people have been infected, while over 8,400 more are being monitored. And the federal government is enforcing a mandatory 14 day quarantine for any citizens returning from China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus is thought to have originated. U.S. citizens returning from other parts of mainland China will be asked to self-quarantine and be monitored by their local health departments for symptoms.
Tangent: San Francisco officials urged the public to separate the disease from ethnicity. Both SF and New York City’s Chinatowns have seen a drastic decrease in business over fears of the disease, when the virus’ transmission is mainly based on travel, according to San Francisco city health director Grant Colfax. Carmen Chu, a city assessor, said it was important “to share a message of making sure that we don’t let this disease turn us into racists…this is about contracting a virus because someone traveled.”
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I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose and xoJane.
Source: New York City Has Its First Coronavirus Patient. Here’s What You Need To Know.