New Haven Emergency Management Leaders Prep for Coronavirus

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Health emergency partners in New Haven were working on a drill Wednesday as concerns of the coronavirus continue to grow.

“The individual is complaining of a sudden onset of difficulty breathing and has an elevated temperature. Some of the things that you might see,” said Rick Fontana, director of emergency operations for New Haven. Fontana walked the group through what would happen if coronavirus patient came to New Haven.

“A couple touches of a button and all of these people are called at once,” he explained, pointing to a communications chart.

Police, public health and hospital officials were all there, each working through how their specific plans come together.

“The next step is actually do an exercise where we would take a mystery patient or take a patient from the community and we’d actually move them through the system to see if there’s any hiccups our areas of improvement,” said April Alfano, manager of disaster preparedness for Yale New Haven Hospital.

Fontana confirmed to NBC Connecticut that three people are currently under surveillance for symptoms after visiting China. In Wednesday's workshop, they’re considered “travelers of interest.”

“A traveler of interest means we need to closely monitor and determine if they would develop symptoms,” said New Haven Public Health Director Maritza Bond.  

The groups say they update their plans daily following CDC guidelines, making sure they’re up to speed as lots of people begin to travel.

“We’re really concerned about the fact that students who are traveling abroad and those who go home for spring break and come back. That’s a concern,” said Fonatna.

But he says they’ve been working together for the last six weeks and they’re ready if someone makes that call.  

“We’re not perfect but we want that public outside to understand the risk and everything we’re doing to try and minimize that risk,” he said.   

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