New York City confirms first coronavirus case

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Tourists wearing masks walk through Union Square in New York City on February 28, 2020, amid fears of the coronavirus and a global pandemic.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

New York state and city officials have confirmed its first coronavirus case, a woman who recently traveled to Iran and is currently isolated in her home. 

“From the beginning, we have said it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of coronavirus in New York. Now our first case has been confirmed,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, adding that health officials have been “in a state of high alert for weeks.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was the first confirmed case across the state. The patient was a woman in her late 30s who had recently been to Iran and was isolated in her home, he said.

“The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York,” he said. Local cases were expected, Cuomo added, saying he’s asked state lawmakers to approve $40 million in emergency funding to combat the fast-spreading virus. 

 “There is no reason for undue anxiety — the general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available,” Cuomo said. 

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot echoed Cuomo’s statement that the risk to New Yorkers remains low and urged the public to remain calm.

“While we hoped this moment wouldn’t come, it was something we prepared for,” she said, adding that the department has already traced the patient’s contacts. “As we confront this emerging outbreak, we need to separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and panic.” 

New York’s first case falls on the heels of confirmed cases in Washington state and California reported over the weekend. Public health officials in Seattle reported first two deaths in the U.S. and several new cases Saturday and Sunday, adding that 50 residents and employees of a nursing care facility were being tested for the new coronavirus.

Health officials in Santa Clara county, California, confirmed three new cases over the weekend, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in that county, alone, to seven. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 69 cases in the U.S. as of Friday at 4 p.m., the most recent data available.  

Since emerging from Wuhan, China two months ago, COVID-19 has spread to at least 60 countries, infecting more than 87,100 people and killing at least 2,980 as of 4 p.m. ET Sunday, according to data compiled by the World Health Organization. It’s shuttered commerce across most of China as officials there tried to contain the fast-spreading outbreak and shaved 12% off the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week, marking its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. 

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