Voluntary quarantine protocols have been applied to about 700 people who returned to New York after traveling to areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak in China since Feb. 3, authorities said.
The vast majority of the travelers were deemed at medium risk for the new coronavirus, called COVID-19, because of recent travel to mainland China, state Health Department officials told the USA TODAY Network New York late Tuesday.
The newly reported tally reflected travelers reviewed for potential voluntary quarantine outside New York City.
None of the 700 people had symptoms, and the number of them being monitored by local health officials during a 14-day self-isolation period was changing almost daily, in part, due to ongoing travel from mainland China, state health officials said.
The number of travelers being watched underscored the scope of the public-health response underway in New York and across the country as the virus spread across the globe.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday he will ask the state Legislature for $40 million to help the state Department of Health prepare for the potential impact of the virus in New York.
He said New York has tested 27 potential cases, but all have come back negative so far. He said it is likely inevitable that New York will have a positive case, so the state is working with hospitals, airports and emergency teams to address the worldwide crisis locally.
"Our operating paradigm is always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We have done that all across the board and it has held us in good stead," he said at a news conference at the Capitol to discuss preparations.
A federal health official warned Tuesday that the deadly coronavirus could cause "severe" disruptions in the USA as global experts struggled to fend off the outbreak and avoid a pandemic.
The global death toll from coronavirus rose to 2,762 on Tuesday night, with more than 81,000 confirmed cases, including 57 in the U.S.
On a daily basis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides state health officials with names and contact information of travelers from China screened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to Jill Montag, a state Health Department spokeswoman.
So far, local health departments have contacted about 700 of the travelers since early February to determine if they meet the criteria for self-isolation, Montag said. She would not provide details about the locations of the people on quarantine.
Westchester County last week announced it was monitoring 26 travelers on voluntary quarantine, mostly in their homes. As of Wednesday, just eight of them remained on voluntary quarantine. The other people completed the quarantine period without showing signs of illness, county officials said.
Dutchess County on Wednesday said 11 residents are in self-isolation, and two who have finished the 14-day period.
Rockland County disclosed it had two people on similar quarantine, and another three people who had completed the 14 day self-isolation. Monroe County health officials were monitoring six people earlier this month.
New York City health officials didn’t immediately respond to questions Wednesday about how many people were on voluntary quarantine in New York City.
Returning travelers are asked to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days after their last potential exposure to novel coronavirus, per CDC guidelines that are based on the virus' incubation period.
During the quarantines, local health departments monitor the individuals for signs and symptoms each day, Montag said.
Common signs of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. If it worsens, it can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure or even death.
Montag said the “voluntary self-isolation will help limit the potential for spread of this virus.”