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Wilton resident has COVID-19; Norwalk Hospital tells volunteers to stay home

(Courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases {NIAID}.)

NORWALK, Conn. — A Wilton resident has been diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In addition, Norwalk Hospital has told some of its volunteers not to report for duty to any Nuvance Health facility.

“The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) State Laboratory has confirmed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) involving a Connecticut resident,” a press release from the governor’s office announced Sunday afternoon. “The patient, a resident of Wilton who is 40 to 50 years of age, is being treated at Danbury Hospital. The person most likely became infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during a recent trip to California and sought medical care shortly after returning to Connecticut.”

A New York State resident who works at Norwalk Hospital and Danbury Hospital, both part of Nuvance Health, was diagnosed Friday with COVID-19. The Wilton resident’s diagnosis is not related to the New York resident’s case, Lamont’s press release said. It’s also not connected to the COVID-19 case involving a community physician who made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital and is also a New York State resident that was announced on Saturday.

The Wilton resident’s case “is considered a presumptive positive case until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” the press release said. “Extensive contact tracing is being done on this case. All people who have had direct, face-to-face contact with this person are being instructed to stay home and self-isolate. Risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is considered low for people who had contact with an individual who does not have COVID-19 and does not have symptoms.  In other words, a contact of a contact is considered low risk.”

Late Sunday,  Amy Lionheart, Nuvance Health Network Manager of Volunteer Services, sent an email to Norwalk Hospital volunteers.

“The health and safety of our patients, families, caregivers, staff and volunteers are our top priority,” Lionheart wrote. “This is why out of an abundance of caution; effective immediatley {cq}, we are requesting volunteers not to report for duty to any Nuvance Health facility. This new policy is effective Monday, March 9 until further notice. At this time, the temporary volunteer restriction does not apply to spiritual care volunteers, chaplains, chaplain interns, Eucharistic ministers and community clergy. However, for those spiritual care volunteers who wish to take a temporary leave, we very much support your decision.”

She continued:

“Many of you have expressed concerns regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as the current flu season.

“While COVID-19 is new, we have experience effectively managing other novel and emerging infectious diseases. We have existing clinical and operational plans in place across Nuvance Health. We are also implementing new protocols as we learn more about COVID-19, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and state health departments.

“Please see the link to our Frequently Asked Questions by clicking here https://www.westernconnecticuthealthnetwork.org/novel-coronavirus-covid19-update/faqs which we will keep updated on our web site as this situation is evolving.”

The governor offered this information:

Data updates as of 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2020:

  • Number of Connecticut COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive cases): 1
  • Number of people who had negative test results at the Connecticut DPH State Laboratory: 29
  • Number of people for whom test results are pending: 8

 

“We have been expecting for some time that a Connecticut resident would become infected with COVID-19, so this should not come as a surprise to anybody,” Lamont is quoted as saying. “We wish this patient a full recovery and we know he is being cared for by highly competent medical teams. My administration and the Department of Public Health are working around the clock to help conduct contact investigations for this case and any others who test positive in the future. I encourage anyone with questions about how to protect yourself and your family from this virus to go online at ct.gov/coronavirus to obtain important guidance and other information or call the 2-1-1 info line.

“Now is a time when we need to look after our health and change some of our habits in order to reduce the spread of infection,” Lamont continued. “Avoid shaking hands with people to stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands with soap and clean commonly touched surfaces. If you start to feel ill, call your medical provider for guidance. If you are traveling, go online to our site to see the latest guidance. If the travel is not essential, you should reconsider.”

Dr. John Murphy, president and CEO of Nuvance Health, is quoted in Lamont’s release as saying, “First, we want our patient and their family to know that we are here for them, and to our other patients, staff, volunteers, and communities, we are working around the clock to contain the spread of COVID-19. Second, it’s important to emphasize that this {Wilton} patient is in no way related to the hospital employee from New York who tested positive for the virus. This patient’s infection is connected to recent out-of-state travel. We understand there is a lot of concern. Please know that we have been preparing for this new outbreak for the last several weeks, and we have years of experience effectively dealing with infectious diseases.”

“Our readiness for COVID-19 cases at our hospitals is thorough and standardized across our health system,”  Murphy continued. “We have been, and will continue to work closely with local and state health departments and follow guidelines for preparedness and care. We want to reassure our communities that we intend to continue operating our hospitals with minimal interruptions, while we implement new policies to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

Lamont offered key messages for the public:

  • People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
  • If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.
  • There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Connecticut, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.
  • People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).
  • Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).
  • People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit ct.gov/coronavirusor call 2-1-1.
  • Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Connecticut.
  • Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

This story was updated and rewritten at 11:20 p.m. to reflect the new information about Norwalk Hospital volunteers. 

3 comments

Mitch Adis March 8, 2020 at 6:22 pm

I hope this person recovers.

For the rest of us it would be helpful to know who this person is in case we had contact with him or family members.

Red headed movie star March 9, 2020 at 11:38 am

Prayers for Wilton Person’s recovery and for all persons working in the health care industry at this time.

Robert Entwistle March 10, 2020 at 7:48 am

I moved from Norwalk to St Petersburg, FL in 2004. Since 2005 I have been a volunteer at All Childrens Hospital. I do not know why you are asking volunteers to stay home while still permitting unrestricted visits to the hospital. What does this accomplish?

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