There are at least 4 coronavirus cases in the US that are not travel-related, officials say

Author: Christina Maxouris, CNN
Published: Updated:
Eugenia Kendall, right, wears a mask outside of the Vacaville City Hall while standing with her husband, Ivan, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Vacaville, Calif. On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a case of coronavirus in Solano County, California. It’s believed to be the first case in the U.S. of someone who has not traveled abroad or been in close contact with someone who has. Eugenia Kendall says she wears a mask because her immune system has been weakened from the chemotherapy she receives for ovarian cancer. Ivan Kendall says the they are not paranoid, just being practical. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)

There are now at least four US coronavirus cases without any related travel history, health officials say.

A woman in Oregon and a high school boy in Washington state are presumptive positives, meaning the tests were conducted at local labs but the results have not yet been confirmed by the CDC.

The other two mystery cases are out of California.

An older woman in Santa Clara County who had been hospitalized for a respiratory illness tested positive for the virus but had no relevant travel history or contact with anyone infected, health officials said.

“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission, but the extent is still not clear,” said Dr. Sara Cody, director of the county’s public health department.

The other California case is a Solano County woman who is hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center in serious condition.

The two counties are about 90 miles apart. The Santa Clara patient had not traveled to Solano County, officials said.

With an increase in unknown origin cases and a change in testing guidelines across the country, CDC officials said they were hoping to have every state and local health department testing for the virus by the end of next week.

As of early Saturday, there were at least 67 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US — the majority of which were repatriated passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. Worldwide, the virus has killed at least 2,922 — including 2,835 people in China — and there have been 85,055 confirmed cases.

Here’s what else you need to know heading into the weekend:

States announce presumptive positives

Oregon Health Authority officials confirmed the state’s first presumptive case Friday — a Washington County resident with no history of related travel nor close contact with another confirmed case, the agency said in a news release.

“As such, public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown,” the release said.

Officials said the patient is in isolation.

“We are awaiting confirmation of the test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but at this time we are considering this a presumptive case,” said State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer Dean Sidelinger in a statement.

Officials also haven’t traced how a Washington state high school boy was infected. Those test results were presumptive positive.

The student, a Snohomish County resident, is doing well, said Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District.

The patient is one of two presumptive positive cases in the state.

A woman from King County tested positive at the state’s Public Health Laboratory and is in home isolation, according to a release from the Washington State Health Department. Her test is awaiting confirmation from the CDC.

She visited South Korea for about two weeks earlier this month, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer at Public Health of Seattle & King County. The woman returned and worked for one day before noticing symptoms. She developed a fever, cough, some nausea, a headache and a sore throat, Duchin said in a news conference Friday. Officials are now investigating the woman’s workplace and anyone she may have come in contact with, he said.

States are now conducting tests

Following a change in testing guidelines, the CDC is working to expand the number of labs who can test for the virus.

Testing kits from the CDC arrived in California Friday and additional kits were expected soon, according to a press release from the California Department of Public Health.

“These new testing protocols and resources will help California medical experts identify and treat COVID-19 cases, trace potential exposures and better protect public health,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

But some testing kits initially sent to state and local labs were flawed, delaying their ability to test for the virus.

“This has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Friday.

Guidelines for who should be tested were also broadened by the CDC earlier this week after the first case of unknown origin out of California.

Initial guidance called for testing if a patient had a travel history to China or had been in close contact with someone who had been there, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.

The Solano County patient now in serious condition wasn’t initially tested at UC Davis nor the Northern California hospital she was transferred from because she did not fit the CDC criteria for testing at the time.

“As soon as that case was recognized, we met and we revised our case definition for persons under investigation,” Redfield said. The guidance was updated on the CDC’s website Thursday. “Today that has been posted along with a new health advisory that the recommendation should be when a clinician or individual suspects coronavirus, then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus.”

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