CRANSTON, RI — The Rhode Island Department of Health announced on Sunday morning the state’s first “presumptive positive” case of the new coronavirus disease in a person who traveled to Italy in mid-February.
Officials did not release the name of the person or the hospital.
Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, however, posted a statement to its school website on Sunday afternoon saying that the Rhode Island patient is a member of the school’s community who recently returned from a trip to Europe.
“Saint Raphael Academy is saddened to confirm that a member of our community has had a ‘presumptive positive’ test result to the coronavirus. It is important to note that this member of the community has not been at the Academy since returning from Europe, and none of his immediate family members are symptomatic at this time,” the school said in the post on its website.
The school’s administration has been working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Center for Disease and Control on the best way to handle the situation.
“At their directive, the students and chaperones who were on the recent trip to Europe will be out of school until March 9,” Saint Raphael Academy said in the post. The school has also decided, “out of an abundance of caution,” to have virtual days with students, faculty and staff all working from home on Monday and Tuesday.
Classes will then resume at the Saint Raphael Academy campus on Wednesday. The school is located at 123 Walcott Street in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
The person is in their 40s and is receiving treatment at an area hospital, according to the news release from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The Associated Press reported the victim is male.
“The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19,” said Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health Dr. Alexander-Scott in the news release. “We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, the individual had “limited travel” in Rhode Island since returning from Italy and had not returned to their place of work.
Additionally, health officials have begun outreach to people who were in direct contact with the individual, and “extensive efforts” are underway to ensure that those people undergo a 14-day period of self-quarantine at home.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott held a press conference Sunday morning to answer questions about the situation.
“My primary message to the people of Rhode Island this morning is that the risk in Rhode Island at the point is low and that we have been preparing for this for weeks,” Raimondo said during the news conference. “We did not wake up today and just get started in our preparation.”
Raimondo went on to urge residents to “be careful and be vigilant but don’t panic.”
There have now been more than 60 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the United States. Globally, more than 80,000 cases have been confirmed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first death in the United States from the virus on Saturday.
Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the following steps to prevent illness and avoid virus: