On Thursday morning, the Orange County Health Department was notified of the first positive test result of an Orange County resident for Coronavirus (COVID-19), the agency announced.
The unidentified person is presently hospitalized and isolated, according to a press release.
“When a positive test occurs, the healthcare provider creates a line list,” Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman said in the release. “What that means is a list is created of all persons the patient was in contact with. The County Health Department then contacts people on that list to notify them of the potential exposure. Such persons are assessed using clinical criteria to determine their symptoms and the potential need for testing.”
“We have been preparing for this prospect for several weeks and are in regular contact with our healthcare providers,” she said. “I encourage people with fever, cough, shortness of breath or other signs of illness to contact their healthcare provider before appearing at their doctor’s office. This minimizes chance of more unnecessary exposure.”
The announcement comes a day after an Ulster County resident tested positive for the virus at a Crystal Run Healthcare facility in Middletown, according to that company.
It is also a day after Dr. Gelman suggested cancelling events with more than 250 people attending.
In a press release Wednesday, Dr. Gelman recommended and is encouraging the cancellation or postponing “large social gatherings” for at least the next 14 days.
She said the move is designed to limit the spread of the virus, and maintaining public health.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly encourages event organizers and staff to prepare for the possibility of outbreaks in communities,” she said. “Postponing and canceling mass gatherings and large community events can help protect you, the health of your event participants and the local community.
Residents over the age of 60 with pre-existing medical conditions are considered among the most vulnerable, according to the agency.
“The Orange County Health Department will continuously monitor the new cases in the region with the hope of being able to reduce this recommendation if we see cases dropping,” Dr. Gelman said. “The nature of the virus has demonstrated internationally that as community spread is limited, cases reduce. Accordingly, by taking strong actions now, it is our hope to be able to weather this challenge effectively, efficiently and safely.”
We will update this story as more information becomes available.