ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A man in New York City’s suburbs was hospitalized in serious condition with the COVID-19 virus Tuesday after becoming the second person to test positive in the state, prompting schools to close and raising the possibility that the virus is spreading locally.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the 50-year-old lawyer from New Rochelle had no known travel history to countries where the outbreak of the new coronavirus has been sustained, though he had been recently to Miami.
“You’re going to see a continued spreading,” the governor said. “That spreading is inevitable.”
The man, who commuted to work in Manhattan and lives in a home with school-age children, had an underlying respiratory illness that potentially put him in more danger from the disease, Cuomo said.
Officials said the man was diagnosed Monday at a city hospital after initially seeking treatment at a hospital in suburban Bronxville. The positive test prompted the closure of at least three schools, including a private school in the Bronx attended by one of the man’s children.
A 39-year-old health care worker who traveled to Iran became the first confirmed case of the virus in New York on Sunday. Officials said the woman has respiratory symptoms, but they are mild.
Her husband, who is also a health care professional, is also being tested for the illness, which is characterized by fever and coughing and, in serious cases, shortness of breath or pneumonia.
Cuomo also said two families in Buffalo that traveled to northern Italy are under quarantine in their homes as they await the results of testing samples from the state health department’s Wadsworth Public Health Laboratory in Albany.
Cuomo signed a bill Monday to direct $40 million from the state’s general fund to help the state hire more staffers and buy equipment to help respond to coronavirus as the outbreak spreads and testing ramps up.
State University of New York schools plan to send home students who are study abroad in counties with high prevalence of novel coronavirus, according to the governor’s office. SUNY officials are also reviewing all study abroad programs in case the federal government expands travel restrictions.
Cuomo said the state public health laboratory is teaming up with hospitals with a goal of ensuring the state can handle up to 1,000 coronavirus tests per day. New York received federal approval Saturday to start using its own coronavirus test.
The bill signed Monday gives the governor the authority to declare a statewide disaster emergency for an urgent disease outbreak and temporarily suspend state and local laws and regulations to cope with the outbreak.
He also said New York will institute a new cleaning protocol at schools and in the public transportation system.
More than 90,000 people have been sickened worldwide and more than 3,000 have died from the virus, which first showed up in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. The number of countries hit by the virus has reached at least 70.
New York officials, including the governor, have urged residents to not be alarmed as additional cases of coronavirus are confirmed.
While the virus has caused serious illness mainly for the elderly and those with existing health problems, most have had mild illness and some infected apparently show no symptoms at all.
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