DHMC employee with coronavirus broke isolation; second person infected

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 3/3/20 9:34pm

3-4-20-dhmc-staffphoto

A second Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employee tested positive for novel coronavirus after being in contact with the first DHMC employee who tested a "presumptive positive" after returning from Italy.

Source: Courtesy of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Updated: March 4, 2020 at 4:26 p.m.

A second Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employee has tested positive for novel coronavirus and is isolated at home.

The man was in close contact with the first case in the state — a DHMC employee who had recently traveled to Italy — who attended an invite-only Tuck School of Business event at The Engine Room in White River Junction. DHMC has contacted anyone who might have been in contact with the first individual during the private event. 

The first individual attended the event on Friday despite being directed by health officials to self-isolate, and the state has since issued “an official order of isolation” to the man. 

While health officials said they “expect additional cases may be identified that are related to this investigation,” they said that neither of the individuals were in contact with patients at the hospital. According to an email sent to campus Wednesday afternoon by leaders of Dartmouth's coronavirus task force — which meets daily to monitor developments related to the virus — Tuck students who were at the event are deemed to be at “low risk” of developing the virus because they had no direct contact with the man who tested positive and have no limitations placed on their activities. 

Four Geisel School of Medicine students were identified as close contacts to the second individual who tested positive and have been self-quarantined, the email said. 

While the two cases have caused concern on campus about the coming term, the College still plans on holding spring term classes on campus. 

However, the College has cancelled student spring break international programming and is discouraging any international travel. Members of the Dartmouth community who do travel internationally and return from or travel through a country rated by the Centers for Disease Control as a Level 2 or Level 3 based on coronavirus risk are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus, and those returning from a Level 1 country must self-observe for 14 days. Self-quarantine for travel beginning after March 4 must occur off campus.  

The College is not prohibiting public events and activities at this time in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the state health department.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is an unpredictable and fluid situation, and although we cannot know how it will evolve, Dartmouth plans to hold spring term classes on campus,” College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement. “We are also preparing contingency plans to ensure business and learning continuity in the event that circumstances change unexpectedly.”

Lawrence wrote that the College is also considering cancelling student foreign programs for the spring term, with an announcement planned for later this week.