A Rochester man has Monroe County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19.

The risk of contracting the new coronavirus in Monroe County is still low,  Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said in a press conference on Thursday. 

He added that the virus was expected. “It wasn’t a matter of if, but when the virus would arrive here,” he said. “And we have been preparing for this.”

In an interview with WXXI, the patient — who did not give his name — said that he is a resident of the 19th Ward neighborhood. The patient had recently returned from Rome, Italy via a flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport and then took ground transportation to Rochester, according to Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza.

The patient’s original claims featured in that WXXI interview that he travelled from New York City to Rochester in the trunk of a car was debunked in a later WXXI interview on Friday, when the patient said he took a bus from New York City to a Rochester train station. He said he was then transported home from the station in the trunk of a car.

Mendoza, who said that Monroe County learned of the case late Wednesday night, told reporters that when the patient got to Rochester on Tuesday, he called Highland Hospital so they could prepare to test him.

Mendoza emphasized that, since the evidence indicates that the virus was contracted in Italy, this is not a case of local transmission. He did suggest that people in the county avoid gatherings of more than 50 people. 

As for the patient, Bello and Mendoza said according to the WXXI report that he is “recovering nicely.”

Editor’s Note (3/13/20): Coverage by WXXI since the publication of this article said that the patient’s original claim, that he rode in the trunk of a car from New York City to Rochester, was false. The patient told WXXI later that he in fact rode a bus from New York City to a Rochester trains station, and was then transported home in the trunk of a car. This article has been adjusted to reflect this development. Additionally, a sentence was changed to reflect that the patient was the first in Monroe County, not the first patient in general. 

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