New US coronavirus case may be 1st from unknown origin

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A new coronavirus case in California could be the first in the U.S. that has no known connection to travel abroad or another known case, a possible sign the virus is spreading in a U.S. community, health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the case Wednesday.

California officials said the person is a resident of Solano County, northeast of San Francisco, and is getting medical care in Sacramento County. They said they have begun the process of tracking down people who the patient has been in contact with, a process known as contact tracing.

Related: ‘Connecticut is ready’: State prepares to handle coronavirus cases

patient was brought to UC Davis Medical Center from another Northern
California hospital on Feb. 19 but it was four days before the CDC
heeded a request to test the patient for COVID-19, according to an email
sent to employees Wednesday by the hospital’s interim CEO, Brad
Simmons, and David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health.

The patient
arrived on a ventilator and special protection orders were issued
“because of an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition,” according to
the email, which was sent to employees.

The hospital asked the CDC
to test for the coronavirus but testing was delayed until Sunday “since
the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19,” the
email said.

The hospital, which has treated other coronavirus
patients, has been taking infection prevention precautions since the
patient arrived. The email said officials believe there was only a small
chance that others at the facility were exposed to the virus.

a small number of medical center employees have been asked to stay home
and monitor their temperatures,” the email said.

Messages to the CDC seeking comment on the email were not immediately returned Wednesday night.

of the 59 other cases in the U.S. had traveled from abroad or had been
in close contact with those who traveled. Health officials have been on
high alert for so-called community spread.

Earlier U.S. cases
included 14 in people who traveled back from outbreak areas in China, or
their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China
city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise
ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from
where the ship was docked in Japan.

Some of those evacuated were
taken to Travis Air Force Base, which is in Solano County. A number of
the earlier cases have been in California, including among some of the
people taken to Travis and one in which a traveler who returned to San
Benito County spread it to a spouse.

California officials have been preparing for the possibility that community spread of the virus might first surface there.

have been anticipating the potential for such a case in the U.S., and
given our close familial, social and business relationships with China,
it is not unexpected that the first case in the U.S. would be in
California,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California
Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer, in a

The outbreak, which began in China, has infected tends
of thousands of people in more than three dozen countries, with the
vast majority in mainland China.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that can cause colds or more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health
officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person
coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

Officials are
advising people to take steps to avoid infection with coronavirus or
other respiratory infections like a cold or the flu, including washing
hands with soap and water and avoiding close contact with people who are

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