SOUTH KINGSTOWN – A patient of South County Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a representative of the healthcare system.
It’s unknown at this time how the patient came into contact with the virus.
South County Health confirmed this information in a statement on Monday, explaining that the patient presented flu-like symptoms last week, but had no history of international travel or interaction with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
“When the patient’s symptoms later worsened, he was tested through the Department of Health (DOH) and confirmed as positive for the virus,” the statement read.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), as of Monday afternoon, there are 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Ocean State, 149 tests pending and 308 tests that have been returned negative. Approximately 2,300 people have been instructed to self-quarantine – approximately 1,700 of which come from Cranston High School West.
“Elevated community transmission of COVID-19 makes tracing more difficult, which means it is increasingly critical that people follow suggested guidelines to reduce social interaction and person-to-person contact whenever possible,” according to the statement made available by South County Health on Monday.
Health officials are still learning how the new disease spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States, though the most up-to-date information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that it’s mainly spread from person-to-person “who are in close contact with one another.”
Those who are infected may pass on respiratory droplets when they cough or sneeze, which can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs, according to the CDC.
Though persons are thought to be most contagious while presenting symptoms, “some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.”
In communities where COVID-19 is spreading, the CDC recommends that people “take extra measures to put distance between [themselves and others] to further reduce the risk of being exposed to this new virus.” People are encouraged to “stay home as much as possible.”
On Monday, the Trump Administration and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidance on how Americans can help slow the virus’ spread – the first of several points being to listen to and follow the directions of state and local authorities.
Older adults and people who have any serious underlying health conditions —such as a significant heart or lung problems—are at a much higher risk and should stay home and away from other people, according to the Trump Administration.
According to the CDC, “if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.”
This includes every-day precautions, such as washing your hands thoroughly and often, and not touching your face –but also stocking up on supplies, avoiding non-essential travel, avoiding crowds and staying home. While home, the CDC advises everyone to clean and disinfect surfaces regularly. This includes tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, phones and other frequently-touched surfaces.
Those at high risk are encouraged to stock up. Stocking up includes household items and groceries, as well as over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies, such as tissues, to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home, according to the CDC.
During this time South Kingstown Town Hall and municipal offices will be open by appointment only. All residents are encouraged to do things online when possible, Town Manager Robert Zarnetske said.
“We want people to reach out if they need assistance, but obviously, the best way to contain or reduce everyone’s exposure is to reduce the number of opportunities for face-to-face transmission, or the number of surfaces that might become contaminated,” Zarnetske said.
“We want to limit everybody’s trips out of the home,” he added. “Everyone should be staying home to the fullest extent they can.”
Similarly, as of Monday, Narragansett Town Hall will also remain open to the public by appointment only. All residents are being strongly encouraged to do everything online or over the phone at this time.
Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, also announced on Monday that customer-facing services at the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and HealthSource RI will be moving to online and telephone-only services until further notice. This includes all new applications, renewals, or changes in benefits. Individuals who need to drop off paper applications will be able to do so without speaking with a customer service representative.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced earlier today that licensing road tests will be canceled through the end of the week. In addition, beginning tomorrow, all DMV satellite offices will be closed.
The Cranston DMV will also be suspending personal driver license and registration services through the end of the week. To ensure customers are not penalized for the actions being taken to further protect health and safety, the DMV will be extending any driver licenses and registrations scheduled to expire by 30 days.
Beginning next Monday, March 23, the DMV will begin taking clients for all services by appointment only.