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2020 News

County’s First Presumptive Positive Results Announced for COVID-19

March 10, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

The Bucks County Health Department tonight announced the county’s first two presumed positive cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Both cases involve adults residing in the same home. Their names, gender, occupations and community of residence will not be released to protect their identities. Both are in isolation at their home with mild symptoms.

The persons had attended an out-of-state gathering recently where they came into contact with two other people who later tested presumptively positive for coronavirus. The Pennsylvania adults developed symptoms typical of the virus – characterized by cough, fever and shortness of breath – several days after returning home.

Specimens from both individuals were sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s laboratory in Exton early today. The results were reported late today to Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department.  coronavirus-graphic

The Bucks residents bring Pennsylvania’s total of presumptive positive cases to 14. Eight are from Montgomery County, two from Bucks County, and one each from Delaware, Monroe, Philadelphia and Wayne Counties. No one has died, although one adult from Montgomery County is reported to be hospitalized in critical condition.

Damsker said the announcement of Bucks County’s first cases had been expected, given the increasing positive tests elsewhere.

Of far more significance, he said, is that neither case is the result of community spread. That means that the two adults contracted the virus through contact with an infected individual while out of state, rather than from an unidentified source within Bucks County.

“Getting a case here in Bucks County was simply a matter of time,” Damsker said. “Given that the vast majority of those infected, including our two cases, will have mild symptoms, I want to continue to stress that we remain calm, while taking the virus seriously.”

County officials are now taking steps to identify anyone who may have come in contact with the two Bucks residents since they began showing symptoms of the virus, and advising those people to self-quarantine for a 14-day period. Damsker said it is highly unlikely that an infected person will transmit the virus to another person until he or she shows symptoms.

While there have been a number of precautionary school closings in the area since last week, Damsker stressed that no Bucks County school students have tested positive for coronavirus and that no school closings will result from today’s test results.

He added that older adults are at far greater risk of serious symptoms or death than are children, as no one under the age of 15 is known to have died of COVID-19.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will release an update incorporating the two Bucks County cases at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine will hold a news briefing on COVID-19 developments at 1 p.m. in Harrisburg.

Bucks County officials will have no further comment on this matter until after those events.  

Damsker continued to urge residents to practice preventive steps such as:

  • Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoiding close contact (within six feet) with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth
  • Staying home when sick
  • Covering one’s coughs or sneezes with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with household cleaning sprays or wipes

     

    Wearing face masks during one’s daily routine is not recommended by the CDC as an effective preventive measure against COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. However, people with symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of an ill person in close settings are advised to wear masks to help keep the virus from spreading.  

    The incubation period for a person exposed to COVID-19 – the time between exposure and first appearance of symptoms – is between two and 14 days. Those who have been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or those who have traveled recently to areas where there have been outbreaks, are asked to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days from the time of potential exposure.

    According to Damsker, county health department continues to contact all travelers returning here from countries where there have been COVID-19 outbreaks, directing them to self-quarantine and helping them monitor for symptoms of the virus.

    At this time, testing for COVID-19 can be conducted only at CDC and the PA DOH laboratory. It is expected that hospital and commercial labs also will have this capability soon.

    County health officials are working with healthcare providers and PA DOH to determine on a case-by-case basis whether testing is appropriate. This is done in the interest of not depleting resources by testing every person who has a respiratory illness.

    Much remains unknown about COVID-19, including fatality rates. Early indications are that children are at much lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and, as with influenza, the elderly and those with immunosuppressive conditions are at higher risk of severe illness.

    Current reports of fatality rates are most likely overestimates, Damsker said, given that most of those infected have had either asymptomatic or mild infections. While that is positive news, he added, it makes the virus easier to spread unnoticed by those with minor or no symptoms.

    Because there is currently no medication or vaccine for COVID-19, Damsker said, simple preventive steps such as good hygiene, avoiding sick people and staying home from work when sick are the best course of action.

    Please continue to refer to trusted, credible sources of accurate and up-to-date information, including:

  • CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  •  PA DOH: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx