PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WBZ NewsRadio) — New England's first "presumptive positive case" of coronavirus is a man in his 40s who recently flew back to the U.S. after traveling to Italy, France, and Spain.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Department of Health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott held a press conference on Sunday afternoon to give more information about the state's first case of the virus.
"Yesterday we discovered what we believe is the first case of coronavirus here in the state of Rhode Island," Raimondo said. "I understand why many Rhode Islanders may be concerned or even frightened..... My primary message.... is that the risk here in Rhode Island at this point is low. We have been preparing for this for weeks... we have an excellent plan in place."
Although the risk of catching the coronavirus is "low," Governor Raimondo urged Rhode Island residents to stay prepared and calm.
"Be careful, be vigilant, but don't panic.... and let's get that message to our children.... We all have to be washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, but there is no need for panic."
Dr. Alexander-Scott told reporters the Department of Health has been preparing for the inevitable appearance of COVID-19.
"With the teams that are in place, we are ready to respond," Dr. Alexander-Scott said. "This weekend we've taken an all-hands-on-deck approach."
Dr. Alexander-Scott also explained the patient tested positive for the virus in Rhode Island, but it remains a "presumptive positive case" since it still needs to be confirmed by the CDC, as does every suspected case in the nation. She also said teams are working to identify anyone who could have come into contact with the patient directly.
"That has already begun," Alexander-Scott said. "Fortunately this person had very limited travel in Rhode Island after returning from Europe. He had not returned to work..... and their family members have been self quarantining at home."
The Rhode Island officials recommended anyone who doesn't feel well isolates themselves from the community for two weeks. "If you feel sick, don't go to work, don't go to school," Governor Raimondo said.