VACAVILLE (KRON/CNN/AP) – The Solano County woman who tested positive for the coronavirus days after being hospitalized is in serious condition and intubated, California Rep. John Garamendi told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
Investigators are trying to retrace the steps of the hospitalized patient who is believed to be the first in the U.S. to be infected without traveling internationally or being in close contact with anyone who had the coronavirus.
Solano County Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said public health officials have identified dozens of people – but less than 100 – who had close contact with the woman. Those people are quarantined in their homes. A few have shown symptoms and are in isolation, Solano County Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said.
“This does appear to be a person who genuinely did acquire their illness in the community,” Dr. Matyas said.
Officials are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.
The patient is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center and could be the first instance of “community spread” of the virus, according to the CDC.
But California officials maintain there is no major threat to the community at this time.
“This is a fluid situation at this time and I want to emphasize that the risk to the general public (in California) remains low,” California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said Thursday. ” In the event that that risk changes, we will communicate with you.”
The case raised questions about how quickly public health officials are moving to diagnose and treat new cases. State and federal health officials disagreed about when doctors first requested the woman be tested.
Doctors at the UC Davis Medical Center said they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test the woman for the virus on Feb. 19. But they said the CDC did not approve the testing until Sunday “since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria” for the virus, according to a memo posted to the hospital’s website.
The woman first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, before her condition worsened and she was transferred to the medical center.
CDC spokesman Richard Quartarone said a preliminary review of agency records indicates the agency did not know about the woman until Sunday, the same day the woman was first tested.
Investigators were focused on tracing the woman’s movements to figure out how she got the virus and who else she may have unwittingly infected.
With the patient as ground zero, they are interviewing immediate family members. Then, as with any similar case, they are expanding the net to include more distant family members who may have been in contact, social gatherings like church that the patient may have attended, and any possible time spent at work or events like a concert.
All of the 59 other cases in the U.S. have been for people who had traveled abroad or had close contact with others who traveled.
Earlier U.S. cases included 14 in people who returned 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.
The global count of those sickened by the virus hovered Thursday around 82,000, with 433 new cases reported in China and another 505 in South Korea.
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