The Rhode Island Department of Health has announced the state’s first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The person is in their 40s and had traveled to Italy in mid-February, the department says. The news release does not reveal the person’s gender or hometown.
It says that the person has had “limited travel” in Rhode Island since returning from Italy, and that the person has not gone back to work since returning to the country.
Outreach has begun to people who were in direct contact with the person, the Health Department says, and there are “extensive efforts underway to ensure that they undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision (quarantine). As long as anyone exposed to the individual does not have symptoms outside of their home setting, the virus cannot spread to other people in the community.”
The person’s immediate family members have been self-quarantining at home since it was determined that the person met the criteria, based on travel history, to be evaluated for coronavirus, the Health Department says.
The department says it is coordinating closely with the hospital where this person is currently being treated — which it does not reveal — and that infection control protocols are being followed.
“The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19,” said Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said in the news release. “We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low. However, everyone in Rhode Island has a role to play in helping us prevent the spread of viruses, just like the flu. It is very important that people wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they are sick.”
Alexander-Scott and Gov. Gina Raimondo will give a news conference at 11:45 a.m. Sunday to discuss the situation.
More to come.