Update at 2:36 p.m. —The clinical director of the emergency department at one local hospital said the area has “enough respiratory cases right now,” but they were still looking for other areas where the cold weather that hit the area Thursday may have been to blame.
The United States has confirmed that two additional Americans have tested positive for COvirus infection, raising to 11 the number of cases of respiratory illness reported across the country from one confirmed case earlier this week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that one patient from Hawaii was confirmed to have the virus, which causes coughing, shortness of breath and sometimes death. On Thursday, the New York City Health Department also confirmed that a patient from the City of New York had tested positive for the virus.
If confirmed, that will bring the total number of cases nationally to six since September, when the virus first started to spread in the United States. One case is in New York City.
That same week, health officials confirmed cases of two people in Northern Virginia, where cases are now more common across the southern parts of the state.
The illness has spread across the United States, but health officials have reported increasing activity this year across the country — with more than 500 reported cases so far.
For all of the cases of COvirus, all symptoms appear to be in line with a common cold, not a true case of encephalitis, which health officials say is what causes the brain damage that is fatal for some people.
“This illness has not been confirmed to be encephalitis and as a result no change is anticipated in policy related to airline passengers who may have traveled from one of the affected areas,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website Thursday.
COvirus, which is spread when a person lies down with the virus on the back of their hands or mouth, can be acquired through the air or through contact with animal or person feces.
The virus can be extremely contagious, so health officials are concerned it could spread through the air.
Health officials believe the increase in cases is the result of the prolonged cold weather, since the virus thrives when it is cold.
Officials say exposure to warm temperatures and moist, wet environments can both help protect people from the virus and make people more susceptible to it.