Conn. Hospital Employee Marks First Case of Coronavirus Connected to the State

A hospital employee came into contact with a person infected with the coronavirus in New York state and self-quarantined at home in Westchester County

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What to Know

  • Connecticut has its first case connected to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 following a positive test of a hospital worker from Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital
  • The worker is a resident of Westchester County and is currently there under self-quarantine
  • The hospital said it believes the infection took place in New York after coming into contact with another infected person. The positive test took place in New York state

A Connecticut hospital employee has tested positive for novel coronavirus, marking the first case connected to the state.

The person infected is an employee from Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital and a New York resident.

The patient lives in Westchester County and is currently there under self-quarantine, according to the governor. The positive coronavirus test was performed in New York state. She was originally tested Wednesday but the results just came back late Friday.

"We believe she was infected in New York," said Kerry Eaton, Chief Operating Officer of Danbury Hospital.

Renee Coleman-Mitchell, the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said the case does not officially count as a Connecticut case.

Teams are working to identify all people possibly exposed to the virus, according to Eaton.

"Our staff knows how to take care of people with infectious diseases," Eaton said.

The hospital employee came into contact with a limited number of patients, Eaton said. She was notified that she came in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, reported the contact and was placed on leave.

"This is not unexpected. We were prepared for this," Governor Lamont said.

"It's disruptive, it's scary, but at the end of the day, we are going to be OK," Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said. "We got this."

The woman has not returned to Connecticut since she was initially tested for COVID-19.

“This unfortunate news highlights the need for heightened preparedness – swift and strategic action to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. "The CDC should immediately provide Connecticut with tests already promised now more necessary than ever. Other federal support should follow, such as reimbursement for local and state expenses, assistance for local health officials and first responders, and aid for small businesses. My thoughts are with the patient and prayers for a swift and complete recovery.”

"Hospitals have been preparing individually and collectively for the arrival of COVID-19 and the public should have full confidence in the readiness of Connecticut's hospitals," Connecticut Hospital Association President and CEO Jennifer Jackson said in a statement.

Danbury and Norwalk Hospital are a part of the same hospital system, Nuvance Health. Nuvance Health also operates New Milford Hospital and Sharon Hospital, but there is no indication the infected employee worked at those locations.

Coronavirus Testing Underway in Connecticut

Connecticut has tested 42 specimens at the state lab with all the tests coming back negative, according to Coleman-Mitchell, the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health. At least 11 more specimens are awaiting testing.

The state currently has one coronavirus test kit, which can support 600 tests, Coleman-Mitchell said. The state has a request in for an additional kit with the hopes of securing it next week.

The governor said the state wants to ensure people who want to be tested for COVID-19 can be.

At Least 200 Self-Monitoring in Connecticut

At least 200 people in Connecticut have been advised to self-monitor for signs of coronavirus, a spokesperson for the governor told NBC Connecticut on Thursday.

Max Reiss, a spokesperson for Gov. Ned Lamont, confirmed Thursday that the 200 people were either showing potential symptoms or were under a travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those cases date back to the start of February.

Cases of the coronavirus have also been reported in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

Hospital officials in Connecticut say they are preparing in the event the state sees a large number of coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus Symptoms

The key symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the CDC are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms can appear in infected persons two to 14 days after exposure.

Coronavirus Prevention Steps

Steps for prevention from the CDC include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Steps to Self-Monitor for Coronavirus

Steps to self-monitor from the CDC include:

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  4. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  5. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

If you do get sick with a fever, cough or have trouble breathing, call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room and communicate with your doctor about your recent travel.

The CDC has a special website set up with details about the coronavirus, including how it spreads and treatment.

Anyone with questions relating to coronavirus can call 2-1-1.

Hartford HealthCare has also opened a 24-hour hotline to answer any questions people may have. To reach the hotline, call 860-972-8100.

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