UTICA, N.Y. (UPDATED) -- Two Oneida County physicians, recently back from Italy, have tested negative for the coronavirus; one was symptomatic. The tests were hand-delivered to Wadsworth Lab, in Albany, Tuesday night. Governor Andrew Cuomo released the negative results Wednesday morning. County leaders will take that win, but are not letting down their guard.
"Clearly this is something that we're gonna be dealing with for a while," said County Executive, Anthony Picente, Jr. "The chances of ...another person being tested is very high. We don't have anything at present."
The two physicians are not the only local people to recently visit any of the countries of concern: China, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran. The Oneida County Health Department is currently talking with colleges and parents of college students who've recently returned from the countries.
"They're gonna be monitored for 14 days, which means voluntarily you will stay in your own location, whether it's your school or home, with private bedroom and bathroom, so that you can isolate yourself from the rest of your family. We will be monitoring you twice a day. You will be taking your temperature," said Phyllis Ellis, Oneida County Director of Public Health.
Ellis says one can be exposed to the virus, and never know.
"If you're young and healthy or older and healthy and you have no medical history, you're not compromised, you might have been exposed to this virus and you'll never know."
Ellis says it's not difficult to protect yourself.
"Cover your cough with your sleeve, if you use a tissue, wash your hands afterwards. Hand washing is the biggest prevention item you can do."
Ellis says if you're recently back from one of the countries of concern and have no symptoms, call the County Health Department for direction. If you're recently back from one of the countries and are having symtpoms, like coughing, fever and shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider.
County Executive Picente wouldn't confirm whether the two physicians work at the MVHS medical office, in Rome. The office was closed Tuesday and Wednesday, but MVHS officials say it will re-open Thursday.