Focus shifts to avoidance and containment

Coronavirus Hits New York




The countdown is over, and containment begins in earnest.

A New York City woman is the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the state, officials announced on Sunday, March 1.

Two people have died from the virus in the United States, both from Washington state, the second on Sunday. The disease known as COVID-19, contracted from the virus, is resistant to treatment and fast-moving.

Local, county, and state officials have all sought to reassure the public and reiterate preventive steps. Foremost among them are to avoid people with flu-like symptoms and to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the Manhattan woman who contracted the illness was in her 30s and recently traveled to Iran. Most of the cases involving the virus, with a global death toll surpassing 3000, according to the Washington Post, are overseas.

Washington state officials are stymied by the fact that neither fatality is known to have left the state. The epicenter of the disease is China.

There was some sentiment worldwide that the virus might be tapering off at levels below some of the other winter flus — which have been widespread and increasing this year at a more rapid rate than usual — than in previous years. The risk of getting coronavirus is currently low in the U.S., according to federal officials, but it is communicable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is no reason for undue anxiety — the general risk remains low in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available.”

According to the CDC, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person origin.

A CDC fact sheet states that coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and spread between them such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and the new SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have originated in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal source.

“The Town of East Hampton will continue to monitor state and federal health agency reports on the spread of flu and the ‘novel coronavirus,’ and will follow and disseminate official guidelines for maintaining health and preventing against the spread of the viruses as the situation evolves,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc announced Monday.

Cuomo said the woman who contracted the new coronavirus is quarantined in her home.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said all senior citizens should be given vaccines and that Medicare should pay for the treatment, but the vaccine is still in development and not yet available.

CDC advises using disinfectant sprays, and some community members have taken to wearing facemasks on the streets. The effects of the coronavirus can range from mild to severe symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and may appear in as few as two days or a long as 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.

Additional information can be found at the New York State Department of Health website.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com