Five doctors who attended a New York City medical conference last week have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.
The medical professionals were among roughly 1,300 physicians and educators who traveled from across the country and Canada for a Midtown assembly organized by the Council of Residency Directors (CORD) in Emergency Medicine, opening the possibility that hundreds of emergency room doctors have been exposed to the disease, website reported Tuesday.
“We have notified all of our attendees and the appropriate health authorities,” DeAnna McNett, CORD’s executive director, told the website. “The affected institutions are also aware and will be following their internal guidelines and protocols related to COVID-19 cases in their workforce.”
McNett said the organizers have also alerted the management team at the New York Hilton Midtown, which hosted the event from March 8-11.
Website identified one of the doctors to test positive as Rosny Daniel, a physician from San Francisco who penned a Medium post on his diagnosis, in which he mentions he is “horrified” at the thought of exposing people while at “a conference out of town.”
“Of course, I washed my hands like crazy. But, I didn’t cover my cough, because I never had a cough,” Daniel wrote. “I avoided all handshakes and gave people the ‘wakanda forever’ salute instead. Yet I still worry that I either picked up the illness there or worse, exposed someone else.
“If the conference had been 2 days later,” he went on, “when we started to get more data about COVID-19 from Italy and more detail of the spread within the US, I wouldn’t have gone.”
McNett said the five doctors had been exposed to the virus at their respective places of work before attending the conference.
“It is important to note that none of the confirmed positive attendees were symptomatic during the dates of the conference,” she said. “As the CDC notes in their advisory, this would be classified as a low-risk exposure.”
CORD acknowledged the potential risk of meeting during a rapidly growing outbreak on its website ahead of the event.
“In this time of public uncertainty and fear, it is especially important for emergency physicians to be seen as leaders and advocates for our patients,” the group wrote, “so CORD has no intention of canceling Academic Assembly at this time.”