AUBURN — A man who traveled to Cayuga County tested positive for the novel coronavirus — the first confirmed case in the county as the respiratory illness continues to spread across the state.
Kathleen Cuddy, director of the Cayuga County Health Department, said Wednesday that a man in his early 30s became ill and was screened by a health care professional on Saturday. He was tested for the coronavirus and placed under mandatory quarantine.
The health department was informed of the positive test result on Wednesday. The man is recovering and remains in mandatory isolation, Cuddy said.
Because the man isn't from Cayuga County, Cuddy explained that the health department needed to find "an appropriate place for the person to stay." The agency is also investigating to determine any contacts he had who may need to be quarantined and tested for the virus.
As COVID-19 spread across the state, there were reports of confirmed cases in surrounding counties. At least one Cayuga County resident who traveled to a high-risk country tested negative for the coronavirus.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, fever and shortness of breath. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the people who contract the virus will experience mild symptoms and recover. The groups vulnerable to serious illness include seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions.
Until Wednesday, the coronavirus wasn't confirmed in Cayuga County. But in the two weeks since the first positive result in New York, the health department worked with other local government agencies to be ready for any confirmed cases.
"We are much more prepared and we have certainly learned from our colleagues around the state and our nation as well," Cuddy said.
Cuddy acknowledged that the first confirmed case of the coronavirus may cause anxiety for some Cayuga County residents. She urged them to practice social distancing, stay home and avoid public areas.
Cayuga County Legislature Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman, who declared a state of emergency and closed public schools on Saturday, also emphasized the need to practice social distancing.
"We understand that this has been and will continue to be difficult," she said. "But despite these trying times, it is important that we come together as a community, to support each other and not let the fear consume us. Above all, we need to remain calm, make sensible choices and protect ourselves and our community members."
McNabb-Coleman said she will sign an order Thursday morning to limit people from accessing the county office building. The county has already reduced its workforce — Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed local governments to reduce their workforce by 50% and allow nonessential employees to work from home — and any employees with underlying health conditions were sent home.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 2,382 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York state. The number is rising because the state's testing capacity has increased. Between Cuomo's press conference on Tuesday and his Wednesday briefing, there were 4,482 people tested for COVID-19.
With the increase in testing, the number of confirmed cases rose by 73% in a 24-hour period. There are 549 people who have been hospitalized and 108 people who have recovered after contracting the virus.
Before Cayuga County's announcement, there were confirmed cases in 33 counties and New York City.
"We wish there wasn't illness in our community," Cuddy said. "We always want people to have good health. That's what we do. We're about prevention. But we did anticipate this would occur. We are as prepared as any other community around us would be."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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