NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus outbreak is spreading in the United States.
There are now 100 cases confirmed. Several states and cities reported new cases Monday, including three in Chicago and one in New Hampshire.
There are also more deaths related to the virus, bringing the total to six fatalities, all in Washington state.
CBS2 has learned more about the Manhattan woman who tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.
As the city faces its first confirmed case, Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied with city officials at the Office of Emergency Management, laying out how each agency would react with a quickly escalating coronavirus spread.
“Everyone is taking it seriously. Everyone has spread the word of what people need to do. New Yorkers are clearly responding. When they have symptoms, they’re acting on it,” de Blasio said.
The city’s first coronavirus case is a 39-year-old healthcare worker. On Tuesday, the woman returned from Iran with her husband, who’s also a healthcare worker. On Saturday, she experienced mild respiratory symptoms and went to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she tested positive for coronavirus. Her husband is awaiting his test results, but is expected to be infected.
Both are in isolation in their Manhattan apartment. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health experts insist hospitalization is not necessary.
“Because she doesn’t need a hospital, and that is the point here,” Cuomo said. “Somebody used an expression, ‘This is like the flu on steroids.’ Eighty percent of the people, when infected with the coronavirus, will self-treat and self-resolve.”
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Cuomo said the woman was likely not contagious when she flew to New York, but as a precaution they are contacting passengers from her flight and the private driver who drove her home.
New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said the woman’s neighborhood is not at increased risk.
“We know that there’s currently no indication that it’s easy to transmit by casual contact. There’s no need to do anything special in the community,” Barbot said.
NY Gov. Cuomo: “I want to make sure I tell the people of New York what I told my daughter. In this situation, the facts defeat fear, because the reality is reassuring” https://t.co/06eJdYHnk3 pic.twitter.com/CdUldl2GJ6
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 2, 2020
Cuomo said schools and mass transit are upgrading cleaning protocols to utilize bleach.
Transport Workers Union Local 100 released a statement Monday night saying transit workers will be disinfecting the interiors of subway trains and buses, subway turnstiles, station handrails and other parts of the system every 72 hours.
“Once again, TWU Local 100 members on the front line are taking action to keep riders safe and secure. From the subway action plan to the coronavirus, transit workers deliver. If MTA officials and the authority’s chief hatchet man are still thinking about laying off transit workers, they need to have their heads examined,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said.
The state is coordinating with hospitals to increase the coronavirus testing capability to 1,000 per day. On-site testing was available in the city Monday.
“Our challenge now is to test as many people as you can. You are not going to eliminate the spread, but you can limit the spread,” Cuomo said.
Later Monday, he announced the state was ordering health insurers to waive patient “cost sharing” — including copayments, coinsurance and deductibles — for coronavirus tests in many situations.
BREAKING: I am announcing a new directive requiring NY health insurers to waive cost sharing associated with testing for #coronavirus, including emergency room, urgent care and office visits.
We can't let cost be a barrier to access to COVID-19 testing for any New Yorker.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 3, 2020
De Blasio said anyone with symptoms, regardless of immigration or financial status, should get tested.
“No one’s being turned away. No one’s being gouged. But if anyone is in doubt, you can always go to a public healthcare facility,” de Blasio said.
The Department of Health is also collaborating with three hospital systems to create a coronavirus early detection system. With the system, anyone tested for the flu would also automatically be tested for coronavirus.
“We said early on, it wasn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ This is New York, we’re a gateway to the world. You see all these cases around the world, around the country — of course, we’re going to have it here,” he said. “That’s why the whole challenge is about containment of the number of people who become exposed and who become infected.”
Anyone with symptoms is urged to see a doctor, especially if you have a connection to the affected areas. New York City residents who have issues with their health care should contact 311 for assistance.