Rhode Island public health officials say they've identified the state's first and second positive cases of the new coronavirus disease. The Rhode Island Department of Health announced Sunday that an unidentified man in his 40s and a teenager who both had traveled to Europe in mid-February tested positive for the virus.
The man's test result was announced Sunday afternoon, and the teenager's result was disclosed a few hours later. Officials say a third person in Rhode Island who was on the trip is also being tested for the new coronavirus. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo cautioned resident at a press conference Sunday afternoon that there's "no need for panic."
State public health officials are working with the hospital where the people are currently being treated to ensure all infection control protocols are being followed.
They tested positive for COVID-19, and those results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation, Dr. Nichole Alexander-Scott, the state’s director of health, said Sunday at a press conference.
“At this point time, the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is low. There is no need for panic, there is no need to be frightened,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said at the press conference.
The first reported death in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus was confirmed Saturday in Seattle, prompting the governor of Washington to declare a state of emergency.
The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.
Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. But that number is expected to grow, and health agencies have been ramping up efforts to identify those who may be sick.
Outreach to those who have been in direct contact with the people in Rhode Island has begun. The agency said there are extensive efforts underway to ensure those people undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision, also known as a quarantine.
The CDC is managing the efforts to trace people on this person’s return flight to the United States.
This story has been updated.