Health Care Worker Identified as NY’s First COVID-19 Case

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio deliver remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State in Manhattan, New York, Monday. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

A health care worker who had recently traveled to Iran was confirmed as the first person in New York to test positive for the new coronavirus disease that has sickened people across the globe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The 39-year-old Manhattan woman’s background in health care allowed her to take the appropriate precautions and seek testing.

“She was not on any public transportation. She has been in her home virtually isolated, and she’s isolated once again,” the Democratic governor said on CNN.

The woman has respiratory symptoms “but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving in New York,” the governor’s office said.

The statement didn’t say when the woman returned to the city, though a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio said her travel was recent.

Health authorities had previously tested more than 30 New York patients who have reported symptoms consistent with the virus, but until now the results were negative in each suspected case.

More than 80,000 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, have occurred worldwide since the virus emerged in China. About 3,000 people have died. The illness is characterized by fever and coughing and in serious cases shortness of breath or pneumonia.

Cuomo said COVID-19 must be taken seriously but he cautioned against panic.

“We have to treat it, we have to be serious, but the fear in my opinion is outpacing reason at this point,” he said.