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As the coronavirus outbreak evolves, Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is working closely with local medical providers including Cornell Health, Ithaca College Health Center and Cayuga Medical Center, to protect the health and well-being of our community. This new coronavirus strain which originated in Wuhan, China, has not previously been found in humans.  China announced yesterday that there are 170 confirmed coronavirus deaths, and added that cases have been confirmed in every region and province in China.

TCHD said there is low risk of infection to community residents at this time. In an alert this week the department said if you are planning any travel outside the U.S., visit the CDC’s Traveler’s Health webpage for the latest travel health notices.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an update on the status of testing for the Novel Coronavirus in New York State Monday, after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed five cases in the United States.  

"While there have been no confirmed cases in New York State, as of today our Department of Health has sent samples for nine individuals to CDC for testing; four of these samples have proven negative and five results are still pending," Governor Cuomo said. "These five individuals remain in isolation as their samples are tested at CDC. While the risk for New Yorkers is currently low, we are still working to keep everyone informed, prepared and safe."

With travelers expected to begin returning to the US this week from Lunar New Year celebrations in China, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has begun working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to post multilingual signage about the virus at all four Port Authority international airports. DOH is also working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to place informational signage on subways and busses.

The CDC confirmed the first case of the coronavirus being transmitted from human to human in the United States yestarerday, making the US the fifth country where the virus is known to have spread that way.  The husband of a Chicago woman who returned from China with the infection contracted the virus. To date five patients have been identified who brought the coronavirus to the US from China.

The Department of Health issued guidance to healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, clinical laboratories and local health departments providing updated information about the outbreak, and ensuring proper protocols are in place if a patient is experiencing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus, had a travel history to Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, or had come in contact with an individual who was under investigation for this novel coronavirus.

If you recently traveled to China and have a fever and cough or shortness of breath, the Tompkins County Health Department offers this advice:

  • Call your medical provider and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others until you are well.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

The coronavirus is spread from someone who is sick through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact, or touching surfaces where the virus is present. There are no vaccines to protect yourself from this virus. If you do not have symptoms of illness, there is no need to limit normal daily activities.
Since we are in the midst of cold and flu season for upstate New York, TCHD reminds everyone to take these additional steps to keep yourself healthy:

  • Get the flu vaccination if you have not done so already
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces

Stay informed. Get updated information on coronavirus at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

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