The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed a new infection of the novel coronavirus in Solano County, in what the agency says may be the first case of a person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in the general public in the United States.
The agency said in a press release Wednesday that it's unknown how the patient contracted the disease, and that the case is still under investigation.
CDC spokesman Scott Pauley said the coronavirus was detected in the "public health system in Northern California," picked up by astute clinicians. Pauley says the CDC is in contact with California state health officials and that the transmission did not happen at Travis Air Force base, where some Americans who traveled abroad are still under quarantine.
The patient "reportedly did not have a relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19," the press release said. "It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected."
Transported to UC Davis Medical Center from another Northern California hospital on Feb. 19, it was four days before the CDC heeded a request to test the patient for COVID-19, according to an email sent to employees Wednesday by the hospital’s interim CEO, Brad Simmons, and David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health.
The hospital asked the CDC to test for the coronavirus but testing was delayed until Sunday “since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19,” the email said.
State public health officials said in a press release that the health risk to the general public from the novel coronavirus remains low. According to international data, the release said, approximately 80 percent of people who have tested positive for the virus don't have symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization.
"Keeping Californians safe and healthy is our number one priority," said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health. "That's why California has been working closely with federal and local partners, including health care providers and hospitals, since the outbreak was first reported in China."
To protect your health and the health of people around you, officials recommend getting a flu shot, washing hands with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and staying home if you become sick with respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough.
California now has nine case of COVID-19. The total number of cases detected and tested by health officials in the U.S. now stands at 14. There are an additional 45 cases of COVID-19 patients who had traveled abroad and were returned to the U.S. on State Department-chartered flights. There have been no confirmed deaths in the U.S. related to the virus.
Associated Press contributed to this report.