The first case of “community transmission” of the deadly coronavirus has been confirmed in the US. “Community transmission” means it is a case that cannot be traced to direct contact of the person to a known area of the outbreak such as China or Italy, or direct contact with a person who has come from there. In other words, the new patient was likely infected secondhand by another person in the U.S.
The CDC reported a patient at UC Davis Medical Center in California had been diagnosed with the virus. At first, the CDC put off testing the patient for the virus, because they said that the patient didn’t meet their criteria for testing since he or she had not traveled to another country with an outbreak or had come into contact with someone who had the disease.
Experts have said this case reveals that limited criteria could be preventing additional coronavirus cases in the U.S. from being identified.
“That suggests the virus is out there in the community, which means that everybody is at risk,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg. “We don’t know who might be carrying it, we don’t know who we could get it from.”
This has prompted fears the virus may already exist undetected in the country. If it does, efforts to contain it will have to focus on minimizing transmissions.
“That other person probably exposed other people, and you have to realize that this virus is so new that none of us have any immunity to it,” reiterated Blumberg. “So anybody who’s exposed is at high risk of getting infected.”
The news of community transmission, came after President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the nationwide response to the virus. Pence will head the coronavirus task force and is expected to reach out to state governors to ensure they have the resources they need.
Meanwhile, a second death due to the virus has been reported in the US. Both infected patients who died were elderly, and had “underlying health conditions.” Both had been residents at the same skilled nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington State.
Officials also announced three other confirmed coronavirus cases, all at the same facility, Evergreen Health. They include a woman in her 80s, a woman in her 90s and a man in his 70s. All were in critical condition with underlying health issues.
As of Sunday night, 88 cases of coronavirus had been identified in the United States.