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New Haven officials talk about how they respond to health emergency

Yale New Haven Hospital has drilled regularly over the last several weeks on coronavirus and will do another Friday.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Public safety agencies in New Haven held a special exercise in the city’s emergency operations center Wednesday in response to growing concerns over the coronavirus.

And, there was an event that happened that got them in the coronavirus mindset. 

While Mayor Justin Elicker (D-New Haven) said it’s “highly possible we may get a case (of coronavirus)in New Haven,” he went on to say the city is ready.

“This (preparing) would’ve been a huge challenge if we had to deal with snow and a new virus,” said Rick Fontana, New Haven’s Director of Emergency Operations.

He says key stakeholders have been formulating a plan to deal with the coronavirus for five or six weeks since the model UN event came to New Haven.

“We had 700 students here at the Omni Hotel from all over the world,” said Fontana, who notes some of the students exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus, which are similar to the flu.

“They were tested,” he said. ”Their test went to the CDC. Came back negative.”

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Right now, the city is monitoring a handful of people, who came to the city from places around the globe, where the coronavirus has manifested itself.

“Although they are asymptomatic, we want to make sure that we follow the CDC guideline of the 14 day of tracking,” said Maritza Bond, New Haven’s Director of Public Health.

And, of course, Yale New Haven Hospital has drilled regularly over the last several weeks on coronavirus and will do another Friday.

“We check somebody in as if they are a regular patient and we just try to see if they can identify the signs and symptoms of coronavirus and then that start that communication chain within the hospital,” said April Alfano, Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“We started to follow this way back when it first broke out in China,” said Mark Vendetto, Deputy Chief of the New Haven Fire Department. “We started to prepare. We looked at what we had for stock piles in place.”

Over 81,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including 57 in the United States, with death totals reaching nearly 2,800.

Among those taking part in this exercise was Yale University, whose representative says they have the capability to create a 150 bed field hospital, if necessary.