Especially Worrying Coronavirus Case Now Has Company

Health officials say 4 patients in US now appear to have contracted illness via 'community spread'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2020 6:00 AM CST
4 Coronavirus Cases in US of 'Unknown Origin'
In this Feb. 22, 2020, file photo, people leave a news conference where officials discussed the proposal for housing coronavirus patients in Costa Mesa, Calif.   (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

A "worrying US first" now has some company. A coronavirus patient in Solano County, Calif., was the first one in the nation said to have contracted the disease (also known as COVID-19) without having traveled to a country that's had an outbreak, or being exposed to other known patients. Now three more cases that look to have been caused by "community spread" have been reported, leading health officials to fear more may be coming, per CNN. The second patient, also from California, is an "older adult woman" who hails from Santa Clara County and who'd been hospitalized for a respiratory illness before receiving her diagnosis. The third case of "unknown origin" is a resident of Washington County, Ore., though that patient's diagnosis needs to be verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington state is where the fourth case is being reported: The state's Department of Health on Friday said a high school student in Snohomish County is being quarantined at home after testing positive for the illness, per the Washington Post. That case, like the Oregon one, is also a "presumptive positive," meaning CDC confirmation is needed. "If we were worried yesterday, we are even more worried today," an infectious disease specialist for Vanderbilt University Medical Center tells the New York Times. Meanwhile, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are among the big companies in the US canceling events and domestic travel for their employees because of the spread of the coronavirus, a move that the Post notes could have a domino effect on airlines and hotels around the country. So far, no one has died from the coronavirus in the US, where 65 cases have been confirmed. (More coronavirus stories.)

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