Coronavirus Patient Admitted to St. John’s

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Here’s What Locals Need To Know

 Last Saturday, March 7, Mayor de Blasio confirmed the eighth case of Coronavirus in NYC, the first reported in Rockaway. The 33-year-old man, an Uber driver, was admitted to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital (SJEH) on Friday night, with his case prompting more than 40 doctors, nurses and other hospital workers to go into voluntary self-isolation over fears that they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. As of press time, NYC has confirmed 48 positive cases of coronavirus and NYS has stacked 212 so far.

In the press conference de Blasio stated: “Case eight—the Uber driver in Far Rockaway is a 33 year old man. He is not a TLC Uber driver. He works on Long Island, so he's not under TLC jurisdiction. He had pneumonia related to coronavirus, and is now in stable condition at the hospital. Family has been contacted by the disease detectives. All family members are in isolation at home and are asymptomatic, including his wife, three children, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law. St. John’s has a situation, where there are 41 staff members, and this is again one of these abundance of cautionary situations, that may have experienced exposure. They're all now in voluntary isolation, being monitored regularly. None symptomatic at this point. The hospital has been provided with support to have additional resources and personnel. And at this point, reports normal operations.”

As for SJEH’s protocols regarding dealing with coronavirus cases, the press office submitted the following to The Rockaway Times:

Is it safe to come to the hospital for healthcare or to visit a doctor at one of their outpatient community practices? SJEH confirms that it is completely safe to come to the hospital for healthcare needs, and to visit SJEH doctors as they are following clinically accepted infection control protocols to prevent the spread of disease.

Is there reason for the community to be alarmed about the confirmed case of COVID-19 at SJEH? The hospital confirms there is absolutely no reason for any person or patient of SJEH to be alarmed. The individual is being treated in isolation using clinically accepted infection control protocols.

Did the SJEH case of COVID-19 originate within the hospital? Answer, no. COVID-19 has been detected in almost 90 locations internationally. The virus was not contracted within SJEH or at any of their community practices.

As to why the public was not immediately informed of a suspected COVID-19 case at SJEH, the report stated:  A patient can have a variety of illnesses. Patients with COVID-19 express some of the same symptoms as a variety of other illnesses. It takes time for diseases to be diagnosed. It is irresponsible for any medical provider to create unnecessary public alarm because of a patient who expresses symptoms that could be caused by a variety of illnesses. With limited exception, it is against various laws, such as the federal HIPAA law, for SJEH or any other hospital to reveal the protected health information (PHI) of patients.

When someone is quarantined, does that mean that they have COVID-19?

Answer, no. When someone is quarantined because of potential exposure to COVID-19, this does not mean that they have COVID-19.

Do any SJEH staff members have COVID-19? No. There are no SJEH staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Was/is SJEH prepared for COVID-19? Yes. SJEH was prepared for COVID-19 before COVID-19 even came into existence. The hospital follows clinically accepted infectious disease guidelines and protocols to help contain and control the spread of any infectious disease while providing optimal care to the affected patient. As an “infectious disease,” a COVID-19 case would fall under these protocols.

This steady uptick of cases has prompted both the mayor and the governor to enact a spate of drastic measures, including canceling the NYC Half-Marathon that was scheduled for this Saturday and the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center. As The Rockaway Times was going to press, it was learned that the St. Patrick's Day Parade scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 in the City, has been canceled. It is the first time in the 258 year history of the parade that it has been canceled.

According to the mayor and governor, it’s about social distancing to minimize spread of the disease.

Several universities and school districts across the state have closed, some opting for remote instruction, including St. John’s University in Queens; and locally, the Challenge Charter Schools in Far Rockaway announced Monday that it would close its K-8 school sites and offices for three days later this week in light of the recent confirmed case at SJEH. On Tuesday, NYC school officials announced that parent-teacher conferences scheduled at public schools this week would not be held in person, and would be conducted over the phone or by video chat instead.

Some working local residents have already been told by their employers to work from home. One information systems worker living on the peninsula said he was told to stay home since last Thursday after reporting flu symptoms. He said, “I just had the cold, but I guess that my boss wanted to err on the side of caution. Then on Friday, my entire department was told that we will all be working remotely indefinitely. I like working from home, but it just makes the reality of the virus even scarier.”

A Rockaway Beach resident, mum of two, stated, “I wish I could work from home, but my company has not given any hint that could be a possibility. I’m just worried that if NYC schools close, who’s going to watch my kids? Now that’s going to be a big problem for me, and many other parents.”

Globally, more than 119,000 people have been infected with the virus, according to official counts. As of Wednesday morning, more than 4,000 people had died. In the United States, the number of known cases of coronavirus infection passed 1,000 on Tuesday night, with cases in 37 states and Washington, D.C. At least 31 people have died.

Keep reading The Rockaway Times for further updates. For more info about the coronavirus and others how you can protect yourself, visit the Centers for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov  

By Kami-Leigh Agard

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