As fears of coronavirus grow nationwide, a Locust Valley Central School District employee who returned from a trip to Asia has been assigned to work at home until further notice. Superintendent Thomas P. Dolan made the notification via letter to school district families on March 3, 2020.
Superintendent Dolan said that the work assignment was out of "an abundance of caution." The employee had travelled to Korea, Japan, and Taiwan and none of those countries are cited by the Center for Disease Control (CD) as bases for requiring or recommending evaluation or quarantine. Superintendent Dolan noted that the individual at issue has shown no signs of illness, is fully cooperating, and could, according to New York State's coronavirus hotline, be permitted to return to work immediately.
Superintendent Dolan supported his different decision by stating, "The health and safety of our students and staff is my utmost priority. I will not take any chances when it comes to protecting them."
More recent events suggest caution such as that in the Locust Valley case. As of Monday, March 8, New York's confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 100, including seven cases on Long Island. The first Long Island patient is a 42-year-old from Nassau County who is hospitalized at NYU Winthrop and had "underlying medical conditions." Officials state the man is from the Hempstead suburb of Uniondale.
Hospital officials confirmed the man was in isolation while receiving treatment, and his condition was improving. No conjecture or information about the source of this individual's infection was presented.
Overnight on Sunday, Suffolk county reported its first case of the corona virus. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the first patient in his county is a man in his early 40 who is currently hospitalized and in isolation.
Suffolk County communicable disease professionals have begun a thorough investigation into the patient’s contacts as it is believed that this case was contracted via community transmission, Bellone said.
Although not announcing any actions such as that in Locust Valley, other area schools have sent out letters to parents about how they will combat spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter sent this month, Glen Cove Superintendent Maria L. Rianna states that the district is cleansing and sanitizing every building, and is regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, and handrails. Administrators will coordinate with other school districts to ensure consistency.
"If you have specific questions about your child's health, please be sure to communicate with your child's physician and keep them home if they show any evidence of not feeling well," Superintendent Rianna wrote in the letter.
As in Glen Co, Oyster Bay-East-Norwich Central School District Superintendent Laura Seinfield also has stressed that the health and safety of the school community in their main concern. In a Feb. 28 letter to parents and guardians, she wrote that the district is cleansing and sanitizing every building and staff is regularly cleaning "frequently touched surfaces." Seinfeld noted that the OB-EN district, like that at Glen Cove, will coordinate with other districts to insure consistency.
Meanwhile, South Huntington area schools reminded parents and guardians of school district actions, and measures they might take regarding the coronavirus.
In a letter sent out last Wednesday, Superintendent David Bennardo stated the district has been in regular contact with the CDC and New York State Department of Health and will continue relaying all important information to staff and families. South Huntington School District officials attended regional training sessions, which informed them of the best ways to clean buildings and combat viral infections. All desks, tables, and door knobs will be cleaned with Virex every night.
Superintendent Bennardo's letter also sought to reduce unwarranted fears. It noted that medical professionals emphasize that coronavirus prevention is very similar to that of the flu. The regular flu has a higher mortality percentage rate than the new virus, he asserted, adding, "80 percent of those infected (with the coronavirus) will see their symptoms resolved without medical intervention."
Following are other developments relating to the virus:
* The Diocese of Rockville Centre said it will suspend some rites of Masses on Long Island. . Until further notice, two changes will affect masses at all churches in the diocese — which encompasses 134 parishes on Long Island and serves 1.5 million people. First, the chalice will not be shared with parishioners — it will only be for clergy or folks who cannot take communion for health reasons. Second, Masses will no longer have the Sign of Peace, where parishioners shake hands with one another. The diocese also said people who are sick should stay home and not attend Mass. Those that do attend should wash their hands frequently.
* Home Depot has canceled this month's kids workshop at all of its Long Island locations, citing that its workshops are generally attended by 100-plus people who spend time in close proximity with each other.
* The Oyster Bay-East Norwich Library's Director Michele Vaccarelli says they have had no discussions about cancelling any programs. About a week ago, they began to undertake enhanced cleaning measures, such as wiping down railings, doorknobs, chairs, the service desk, computers, keyboards and in the bathroom, to discourage transmission of germs.
* Nassau County officials have called on the public to report instances of price gouging. Lawmakers are working to stop price gougers who are cashing in on the coronavirusoutbreak by charging sky-high prices for items that are currently flying off store shelves. In the meantime, as stated by Nassau County Executive Laura Curren at a press conference on Sunday, potential price gouging may be reported to the Consumer Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Northwell Health Lab has announced it is beginning to testing for the coronavirus imminently, now that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has given the green light for outside labs to conduct the tests once appropriately validated.
At a March 3 news conference, Dr. Dwayne Breining executive director of laboratory services at Northwell, said manual testing for coronavirus could begin "this week," with 75-100 tests processed daily. Once the lab automates the process, it will have the capability to process hundreds and eventually thousands of tests daily, he said, including reporting results within three to four hours of receiving samples.