The Bucks County Health Department on Tuesday evening announced the county’s first two presumed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Both cases involve adults residing in the same home, and they are in isolation there with mild symptoms. Officials did not announce their identities or location.
They had attended an out-of-state gathering recently where they came into contact with two other people who later tested presumptively positive for coronavirus, according to the health department. They developed symptoms typical of the virus – cough, fever and shortness of breath – several days after returning home.
Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, 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 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.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will release an update on the two Bucks County cases at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Damsker unfortunately is wrong. As with any virus, shedding begins before full symptoms appear. In fact, spread is most likely in the days preceding symptoms.
Not saying this warrants the panic we are seeing but medical facts matter. Greatest threat of contagion is early, not late. If you show symptoms you have already likely spread disease to those in close proximity. Just the facts.