What we know about the Niagara County woman hospitalized with COVID--19

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 18:04:14-04

70-year-old Jennifer Cook, of Niagara Falls, is at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for a necessary heart exam. It’s an appointment she considered canceling after hearing about the first confirmed case of COVID—19 in her community.

Reporter Ali Touhey: When you hear they’re treating someone here at the medical center, what’s your reaction to that?
Cook: Scared. Really scared. I was afraid to come and get checked here because of what was happening.

“Nurses are taking your temperature to make sure you don’t have a fever or anything like that,” Cook explained. “They’re wearing masks and they’re wearing gowns and stuff like that,” she added.

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said the 42-year-old woman being treated for COVID-19 has a compromised immune system. But, officials wouldn't say what her symptoms were, how long she had been showing symptoms, or where she might have been before being tested. However, they did say she took precautions to avoid public exposure.

She is being treated in what’s called a negative pressure room, and Stapleton said hospital staff is trained to treat COVID—19 patients.

The county has identified the former Newfane Intercommunity Hospital as a location for additional patients under quarantine. Up to 32 patients would be able to recover at that location if they can’t do so in their own home. Reasons why someone wouldn’t recover in their own home is because a family member at home is of high risk or space doesn’t allow.
“ We started preparing for this weeks ago because we knew this was a possibility,” Stapleton said.

The County said it needs to ramp up testing, but it can’t because it is still waiting on supplies provided by the state.

“Don’t get me wrong, people are getting tested. But, it’s not to the level we want it to be,” he said.

Stapleton said he ordered 1500 testing swabs from New York State but has yet to receive them. “It’s getting those supplies. That’s what is restricting us right now.”

Reporter Ali Touhey: Any indication when you’ll get them? What is the state telling you?
Stapleton: It’s telling us we’re in the cue.
Touhey: What does that mean?
Stapleton: Exactly. Your guess is as good as mine.

The epidemiology department is now is in the process of tracing the COVID—19 patient’s activity prior to her diagnosis so they can contact anyone she may have had contact with, and they can be quarantined and tested.