A community physician who works at Bridgeport Hospital is the second hospital employee in Connecticut to be infected with coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness.
Hospital officials told reporters Saturday afternoon that the man is a New York resident and lives in Westchester County. The state was notified of the positive case by the New York State Department of Health.
“This physician saw a limited number of patients at Bridgeport Hospital,” said Anne Diamond, hospital president. “At that time, the physician displayed no symptoms associated with COVID-19, and as a result, the physician contact here during that time does not constitute as an exposure [to others].”
Diamond said that, out of caution, Bridgeport Hospital isolated patients who had come into contact with the physician until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that isolation wasn’t necessary.
On the CDC’s recommendation, Diamond said hospital staff would not be isolated or furloughed because of the incident, but that they should self-monitor for symptoms moving forward.
This comes on the heels of a positive case found in a New York woman who works at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals. Connecticut state officials Friday night said she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have exposed a limited number of patients and others to the virus. She is also from Westchester County and remains self-quarantined at home.
“Obviously, this virus has no respect for state borders, so that’s an additional exposure for southern Connecticut,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Saturday, “and if we want to be realistic, I think we need to face that fact and fortunately, Bridgeport Hospital and other health care facilities are preparing.”
No Connecticut resident has yet to test positive for coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon, said state Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell. She said the state health lab in Rocky Hill has found negative test results for 21 people so far.
Officials are waiting on the results for nine more patients — three are connected to the Norwalk-Danbury hospital employee, and another is connected to the Bridgeport Hospital physician, Coleman-Mitchell said.
In the meantime, state officials said they want to get more people tested. The state initially received a limited number of coronavirus tests, but Gov. Ned Lamont said more are scheduled to arrive early next week from the federal government. Lamont did not say exactly how many people could be tested with the new supply of kits.
Congress recently passed an $8.3 billion aid package for emergency coronavirus spending, including money that will go to states like Connecticut for prevention efforts, protective supplies, reimbursements to hospitals and health providers for related care, and other preparations.
But Blumenthal was critical of the federal government’s response so far to the coronavirus outbreak. He said things like getting more test kits to Connecticut and other states should have been a more urgent priority before this point.
“Yes, they [test kits] will find people who are infected, and that will create a momentary sense of apprehension. It should not be a cause for panic,” Blumenthal said. “We need to know who is infected. It’s like a fire — you need to put it out at the beginning before it spreads. And the only way to shine a light on it is to test.”