A person in California has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, despite having not having any “relevant travel history” or exposure to someone who was known to have the illness, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an emailed statement today. The patient is at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, according to The Davis Enterprise.
This may be the first instance of “community spread,” which is a term the public health community uses to say the source of the illness is unknown, the CDC said in its release. It’s also possible that the patient was exposed to a person who’d traveled, and didn’t realize they were infected. The Washington Post broke the story about the new patient.
The person lives in Solano County and was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center from another hospital, The Los Angeles Times reported. The patient had already been intubated and was on a ventilator when she arrived at UC Davis on Feb. 19th, according to a memo about the case obtained by The Davis Enterprise. The UC Davis team immediately requested testing for the coronavirus, but the CDC didn’t test the patient until Feb. 23rd. The positive test results were announced on Feb. 26.
The CDC statement came just after President Donald Trump ended a press conference where he named Vice President Mike Pence as the leader of the US response to the novel coronavirus disease, also called COVID-19. Pence, as governor of Indiana, slashed funding to public health initiatives and delayed introducing needle exchanges, leading to the worst outbreak of HIV in Indiana’s history. Pence replaces Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
The coronavirus originated in China, which is still where most of the cases are. There are also disease outbreaks in South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. So far, there have been more than 80,000 confirmed cases, and more than 2,700 deaths.
Update February 27th, 12:34AM ET: Adds details about the specifics of the patient’s case.
Correction February 28th, 6:18PM ET: Corrects pronoun in the third paragraph. The patient is a woman.