CORNING | Corning Inc. officials say they have strong policies in place to protect both their own workers and public health during an outbreak of coronavirus that reportedly began in China’s Wuhan region, where the company’s Display Technologies business has a facility.
Steuben County Public Health officials recently acknowledged a local person was tested and found not to be infected with the virus.
Though there have been reports that the patient was employed by or connected to Corning Inc., company spokesman Joseph Dunning said they’re not aware of the person’s identity.
"We are not privy to that information due to health privacy laws," Dunning told The Leader.
County Public Health Director Darlene Smith told The Leader’s news partner WETM 18 News the patient visited the affected area in China’s Hubei province and came back Jan. 20 when they began to feel symptoms associated with the virus.
Smith said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta returned negative results Jan. 24.
Dunning, while saying company officials don’t have anything to add about the Steuben County case, said the company is closely involved in monitoring the virus.
"The safety and health of our employees, and that of their families, is of utmost importance to us," he said. "We are in close communication with our employees in Wuhan and in other regions of China. We are engaging with governments and health-service organizations to monitor and address the situation as it evolves. We have an active response team working around the clock on this rapidly evolving situation and are following all recommendations from the [CDC]."
He said that includes monitoring travel into and out of affected areas.
"We have been actively following the guidance of the Chinese government relative to travel, while at the same time coordinating closely with the U.S. government on options for our employees," Dunning said.
He said the company has gone beyond CDC recommendations to protect both its own workers and prevent the possible spread of the virus.
"We are restricting employee travel to China," Dunning said. "We have also initiated limited isolation periods for employees upon return to the United States as an added precaution."
The CDC has its own measures in place to prevent infected individuals from traveling into the U.S., he added.
"Any U.S. expatriate employee, their families and general business travelers returning from China will be screened and cleared for entry by the CDC upon arrival in the United States."
Dunning said simply being in the affected region isn’t cause for alarm, according to experts.
"The CDC guidance that we are receiving indicates that unless an individual is ill or has a fever following travel in China, they are under no special precautions from the CDC," he said.
The company does have resources available for employees who may be concerned.
"All employees and their families have been instructed to reach out to Corning Incorporated Health Services or their personal medical providers should they have concerns or questions about their health status," Dunning said. "The situation remains fluid, and as more information becomes available, we will update accordingly."