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New York seeking in-state coronavirus tests; fewer Long Island people monitored

Some, like this woman in Manhattan, have taken

Some, like this woman in Manhattan, have taken to wearing masks out of concern of the coronavirus' spread. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks for people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, for health care workers and for those in close settings with an infected person. Credit: Bloomberg/David Dee Delgado

New York health officials said they believe federal permission for in-state testing of coronavirus to expedite results “is imminent,” while the number of people monitored on Long Island for possible exposure continued to fall.

The Nassau County Health Department reported Friday that 71 people were being monitored daily and in voluntary self-isolation, down from 79 on Thursday, and the Suffolk Health Department said 21 people there were in home isolation, down from 30 on Thursday.

Both health departments said they have received complete cooperation from those asked to isolate themselves, who are people who recently returned from China. None has exhibited symptoms of the virus, called COVID-19, officials said.

Nassau is asking everyone in isolation to avoid any contact with other people, including family members, said Health Department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain.

“A person can go out in their backyard and get air,” she said. “We don’t want them at their fence line talking to their neighbors.”

Suffolk’s Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said Suffolk is recommending that anyone in isolation limit contact with others, by sleeping in a different room than a spouse, for example.

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“If you’re coming together for meals or something like that, then the person who is under self-isolation should be wearing a mask,” he said.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, said that “ideally no one should be going near them” because even though surgical masks reduce the chance of transmission of the virus, they do not completely prevent it.

“You put somebody in isolation, they’re not supposed to be near anybody,” he said. “It’s only if someone comes near them that you use this type of mask.”

Laurain and Pigott said that their respective counties, upon request, can deliver food to people in isolation, and can bring masks and thermometers as well.

Each person in isolation is asked to take their temperatures regularly and stay in contact with health authorities. If they were to develop symptoms, such as a fever, they would be transported to a hospital, with emergency medical service workers notified that the person may have COVID-19, county officials said.

The monitoring period is 14 days from the time the person returned from China.

Six people in Nassau have been tested for the virus and all tested negative. No one from Suffolk has been tested. Health experts have asked the public to follow common-sense prevention measures to avoid exposure to viruses.

Currently, only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can confirm whether someone has COVID-19. New York asked the federal government that its Wadsworth Center laboratory be allowed to perform tests, to decrease delays in getting results.

The state Health Department said in an email Friday that “upon FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval, which we believe is imminent,” Wadsworth can immediately begin tests with a CDC-developed protocol.

Sixty-four Americans have tested positive for the virus, as have more than 83,000 people worldwide. More than 2,800 have died, the vast majority in China.

With AP

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