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The US has its first case of “community spread” coronavirus

February 27, 2020
UC Davis Medical Center
UC Davis Medical Center
UC Davis Medical CenterUC Davis Medical Center

The news: A patient in the US with no history of travel to outbreak hot spots or exposure to someone with coronavirus has been diagnosed with the disease, likely marking the first case of “community spread” inside the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.

The case: The patient was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, on February 19 from another hospital, but the virus wasn’t diagnosed until four days later. UC Davis had to call in the CDC to do the tests since it lacked the capability, hence the delay. In a statement, the hospital said it had put the patient under “strict contact precautions” and believed there “has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center.” However, it said a small number of employees have been asked to stay home and monitor their temperature.

A national response: President Trump announced yesterday that Vice President Mike Pence would lead domestic efforts to combat the disease. His administration has requested $1.25 billion in emergency funding from Congress.

Complicating efforts: We know that coronavirus is very contagious, but we are still learning how it passes from person to person. This new “community spread” case reveals gaps in testing capability in the US that could hamper efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Currently, only the CDC and a few local public health agencies have the ability to administer the tests.

The overall picture: At the time of writing, there are 60 confirmed cases of patients infected with coronavirus in the US, 43 of whom were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Globally, there are nearly 83,000 confirmed cases and over 2,800 deaths as a result of the virus. The vast majority are still in China, although the spread of coronavirus to other countries, including Iran, Italy, and South Korea, has accelerated in recent days.  

Read Next: What are the most promising potential coronavirus treatments?

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