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Two new R.I. coronavirus cases: a traveler to Egypt and a health care worker

A CVS employee who worked in a company office in Lincoln, R.I. tested positive for Covid-19 Sunday. Here, a CVS store in New York posted a sign last week to tell customers that face masks and gloves may be in short supply.
A CVS employee who worked in a company office in Lincoln, R.I. tested positive for Covid-19 Sunday. Here, a CVS store in New York posted a sign last week to tell customers that face masks and gloves may be in short supply.

A woman in her 50s who traveled to Egypt and a Rhode Island hospital health care worker in her 30s have tested positive for coronavirus, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported Tuesday evening.

Both women are recovering at home, health officials said. The source of the health care worker’s infection is not known.

They are the fourth and fifth cases of Rhode Island residents with Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. These latest cases are considered “presumptive positive” until they are confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

As with the other Covid-19 cases, health officials are tracking down everyone who has had direct, face-to-face contact with these patients to tell them to self-quarantine.

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In addition to the five Rhode Island residents, three people who worked in the state also have contracted the illness: a Massachusetts woman who went on a Saint Raphael Academy trip to Italy, a Massachusetts resident who worked at CVS in Lincoln, and an outside contractor hired to train employees at the Citizens Bank campus in Johnston.

In all, some 270 people in Rhode Island are now under quarantine. Tests are pending for 24 people, and tests have come back negative for 58 people, officials say.

Earlier today, CVS announced that one of its employees in the company’s corporate office in Lincoln, R.I. has tested positive for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and other employees there have been asked to quarantine themselves at home.

It was one of several developments in the coronavirus story in Rhode Island earlier Tuesday that also involved Citizens Bank, T.F. Green Airport, Brown University, the state prison in Cranston, and Newport’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

CVS learned of its employee’s diagnosis Sunday, according to an e-mail written by Mike DeAngelis, senior director of corporate communications for CVS Health.

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The employee was working in the CVS office at 695 George Washington Highway in Lincoln days before the diagnosis. It is not known how the employee was infected or whether the person was showing any symptoms while in Lincoln. The employee lives in Massachusetts, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“Upon notification of the test result, we immediately implemented our infectious disease response protocols" DeAngelis wrote. “The office was disinfected and sterilized following our established protocols and CDC guidelines.”

The employee, as well as those who worked “in close proximity” to the employee have started quarantining themselves at home for 14 days, DeAngelis said.

“If any of the quarantined employees are unable to work from home, they will be placed on paid leave during the cautionary quarantine period,” he wrote.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank announced Tuesday that a contractor who recently trained some employees at its Johnston campus has tested positive for the coronavirus. The contractor ran the training sessions on Feb. 24 and March 3. Since the first session was held more than 14 days ago, only the employees who attended the later session are self-quarantined. None of the employees, including the contractor, have shown any symptoms. The contractor decided to get tested after he had contact with someone with the virus.

Citizens, headquartered in Providence, said it was the first confirmed case of coronavirus inside one of its facilities.

State health officials have not included the CVS employee in its count of Rhode Island cases because the person is a Massachusetts resident, said Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken, and public health officials in the infected person’s home state takes the lead on tracing the person’s contacts with help from Rhode Island health officials.

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It wasn’t immediately known where the Citizens Bank contractor was from.

T.F. Green Airport

A passenger with flu-like symptoms on a flight from Orlando, Florida, to T.F. Green was immediately taken to a hospital when the plane landed Tuesday morning, said a spokesman for Rhode Island Airport Corporation.

The crew on Southwest Flight 153 notified the airport about the passenger’s illness, prompting the airport, airline and public safety to assess and transport the person directly from the plane to the hospital, to minimize exposure to other passengers.

“It is not unusual for passengers to become ill on flights and require assistance from health care professionals,” RIAC spokesman John Goodman said in a statement. “However given the nature of this situation, responding personnel employed health protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Rhode Island Department of Health intended to assist the individual and prevent exposure to communicable diseases.”

Brown University

On Tuesday, Brown University took additional steps in response to the coronavirus, suspending all non-essential university-sponsored travel within the United States, temporarily suspending admissions tours and information sessions, and limiting attendance at spring sports event, in keeping with an Ivy League decision.

Brown had previously suspended all university-sponsored international travel and on-campus events with 100 people or more, excluding academic courses.

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State prison

The R.I. Department of Corrections is screening new prisoners for coronavirus at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston and banning visitors under 18 or those who are sick, said spokesman J.R. Ventura.

“We are also recommending that inmates and visitors refrain from all physical contact, and our staff makes regular announcements throughout the day for everyone to wash their hands,” Ventura said in a statement Tuesday.

The corrections department is coordinating with other state agencies to respond to the coronavirus, Ventura said.

The prison has “negative-pressure rooms” to help medical staff contain communicable airborne contagions, Ventura said, adding, “our agency is utilizing our safety protocols and taking this matter very seriously.”

Newport

The Newport City Council voted Tuesday night to allow the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade to go on as planned Saturday despite concerns about large gatherings and people in close proximity, given the easy transmission of the coronavirus. The vote was close, 4-3, with Mayor Jamie Bova siding with three councilors, according to the Newport Daily News. Organizers and supporters had lobbied the council heavily not to cancel the event. The parade has never been canceled in 64 years, despite rain, snow, and even a blizzard.

Overview

Eight people who live or work in Rhode Island have been infected.

A male staff member and a teenage female student at St. Raphael’s Academy in Pawtucket, both Rhode Island residents, and another staff member at the academy who lives in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, were diagnosed with the virus after returning from a school trip to Europe during February vacation that included a stop in Italy.

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The fourth patient is a female Rhode Island resident who works at the Smithfield Avenue Nursery School in Pawtucket and apparently contracted the illness after she had direct contact in late February with a person in New York with a confirmed case. Today, the CVS employee, Citizens Bank contractor, traveler to Egypt, and health care worker brought the total to eight.

There are 290 Rhode Islanders who are quarantined.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo declared a state of emergency on Monday in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Raimondo said the federal government has given Rhode Island access to a stockpile of personal protection equipment such as masks, goggles, and gloves for use by doctors, nurses, and other front-line health care workers.

There already is a team of five specialists from the federal Centers for Disease Control in Rhode Island. The state has also set up two coronavirus testing sites in large tents that are at locations away from hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other health facilities to try to keep people who may be infected away from patients who have compromised immune systems.



Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan. Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com