An Ulster County man who tested positive for the coronavirus Sunday recently returned from France but was not required to self-quarantine because the federal government has not placed restrictions on travelers from that country.
The middle-aged man, who has not been identified by officials, came through Newark airport in Northern New Jersey before returning to his home in the town of Rochester, according to Ryan, a town of 7,000 that includes the hamlets of Kerhonkson and Accord, as well as the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
The man notified the Ulster County Health Department when he started to show symptoms and drove himself to the Broadway campus of the Kingston Hospital on the department’s advice, according to Ryan.
He was met by a hospital staff member wearing protective gear in the parking lot and isolated in part of the hospital meant to house patients with communicable diseases, Ryan said, after which he was tested and sent to his Rochester home to self-quarantine.
The samples taken from the man at the hospital were tested at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, according to Assistant Deputy County Executive Dan Torres. The results came back positive Sunday morning.
It has been the state’s policy to require travelers returning from countries the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider hotspots for the new virus to self-quarantine for two weeks after returning and be monitored by their county’s health department.
These countries are those with “Level 3” CDC designations – China, Iran, South Korea and Italy – but not France.
There were more than 1.100 cases in France as of Sunday afternoon, with 19 deaths, according to the New York Times. The number of cases has more than doubled since Thursday.
The man lived alone and drove to the hospital alone, decreasing his chances of infecting others, Ryan said, though a second person was being tested and was self-quarantining because of the case.
The Rochester man’s condition already seemed to be improving as of early Sunday after noon – Ryan said his fever had broken and his symptoms were subsiding.
The county is now in the process of back-tracking the man’s movements since he arrived in the U.S., Ryan said.
There were 105 cases of COVID-19, the disease resulting from the new coronavirus, in New York state as of 11 a.m. Sunday, according to the state Department of Health: 82 in Westchester County, 12 in New York City, six on Long Island, two in Saratoga County, two in Rockland County and the case in Ulster County. The case load has more than quadrupled in the last three days – there were only 22 reported cases late Thursday.
The majority of the cases stem from a single man in Westchester County.
Congressman Antonio Delgado, whose district includes both Kingston and Rochester, released a statement Sunday saying he was in touch with Pat Ryan.
“As testing occurs we are likely to see the number of cases significantly increase. Now is the time to prepare: not panic,” according to the statement.
COVID-19 emerged in December in the city of Wuhan in central China. Though new cases in China have dropped to a tenth of what they were in late January, the coronavirus is now spreading rapidly in other parts of the world.
An outbreak in northern Italy has taken hold throughout Europe over the last week. There were more than 200 reported cases each in nine European countries as of Sunday afternoon: Belgium, Swedan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, which had more than 7.000 cases, according to the New York Times.
Scientists are still trying to figure out the mortality rate for the virus. Estimates tend to range from 0.2 percent to more than 2 percent.
More than 500 COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. as of Sunday afternoon, according to the New York Times, and 21 people have died.