Calif. Coronavirus Case Is a Worrying US First

CDC says it can't pinpoint cause of infection
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2020 2:41 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2020 6:40 AM CST
Source of Calif. Coronavirus Infection Is Unknown
A man wears a protective mask while shopping in Alhambra, Calif., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The 60th case of COVID-19 detected in the US is different from the other 59 in a way that worries public health officials. The CDC says the patient, diagnosed at UC Davis Medical Center in California, had not traveled to a country hit by the outbreak or been exposed to any other known cases, meaning this could be the first US case of community spread, reports Reuters. Authorities say the patient, a Solano County resident, was brought to the medical center from another hospital on Feb. 19. Brad Simmons, the hospital's interim CEO, said in an email to employees that the patient was not tested for the coronavirus until four days later because they "did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Simmons said special protection orders were issued after the patient arrived with "an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition." He said there is "minimal chance" workers were exposed, but "a small number of medical center employees have been asked to stay home and monitor their temperatures." The other 59 patients in the US include 45 people evacuated from Wuhan or the Diamond Princess cruise ship. "The thing that would immediately make all of us uneasy is if this person has no direct contact with someone who comes from an affected country," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, tells the New York Times. "That would suggest there are other undetected cases out there, and we have already started some low-grade transmission." (More coronavirus stories.)

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