Rhode Island Announces First Coronavirus Patient As Trump Cites Poll Showing 77% Confidence in Government Response

President Donald Trump cited a poll on Sunday that shows 77 percent of U.S. adults have confidence in the government's ability to handle the coronavirus outbreak, hours after the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state's first presumptive positive case of the COVID-19 disease.

The infected Rhode Island patient, who's in their 40s, is currently being treated in hospital following a trip to Italy last month, according to an RIDOH press release.

"The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19," Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said. "We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low."

Newsweek reached out to the RIDOH for additional information but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Rhode Island's first case of the new disease was announced one day after the first U.S. death—a man in his 50s—was confirmed this weekend in Washington state, where the virus has likely been spreading undetected for over a month. The deceased did not recently travel or have known contact with anyone known to have contracted the virus, according to officials.

Officials in the state have begun to contact those who have had direct contact with the individual to ensure they undergo 14-day quarantine. The patient's family members have already started self-quarantining.

Washington state on Sunday confirmed two new cases, bumping it's official total up to eight, with hundreds more likely and currently undiscovered.

Trump continued to urge calm after the death in Washington state on Saturday, before then sharing a New York Post poll a day later showing 77 percent confidence in the government's ability to handle the virus.

"A Poll in today's New York Post says that 77% of 'U.S. adults have confidence in their government's ability to handle the Coronavirus (Number One), compared to other health threats,'" he tweeted. "64% for Zika, 58% for Ebola. Others way down on list. Our professionals are doing a great job!"

The president told Americans Saturday that they should not be concerned by the reported death and new cases. "If you are healthy, you will probably go through a process and you'll be fine," he said, before noting that "15 people have recovered from the virus."

After facing criticism from the media and Democratic politicians over his handling of the virus in recent days, Trump asked them not to "do anything to incite the panic, because there is no reason to panic at all."

Heath and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Sunday defended Trump's response to the virus and asserted that "partisan sniping" is "unnecessary." Speaking on ABC's This Week, Azar told host George Stephanopoulos that politicians do not need to make this into a "political issue. We're in a public health crisis here. We need to all be banding together."

Coronavirus
Travelers arrive to LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal wearing medical masks for protection against the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty