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California Seeks Origin of First Possible Community Transmission of COVID-19

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California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell (L) speaks as California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on February 27, 2020 in Sacramento. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials said Thursday they are combing the community where the new case of novel coronavirus was transmitted to find out where and how the patient contracted the disease, and to isolate people she came in contact with.

At a press conference at the state capitol, Newsom said the CDC has committed to sending 10 personnel to California to assist with investigating locations the patient went, and interviewing people who were in contact with her.

Newsom also said California currently has 200 testing kits but that more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are on their way and are expected “any day now.”

“Our top priority is getting the testing to be better,” he said.

Newsom was joined by officials with the California Health and Human Services Agency, the California Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell said the news of a person in Solano County acquiring the virus from an unknown source marked a turning point.

“This particular case could be the first possible instance of community transmission of COVID-19 in the United States, and it’s here in California,” said Dr. Angell.

The ill person, a woman with no travel history or known exposure to someone with a confirmed case, contracted the disease in Solano County and is receiving care at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento County.

“We currently have people in the field working in the community, from the state and also from the CDC,” Dr. Angell said, “investigating the case and taking action.”

The health workers are contacting individuals who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus and isolating them.

Officials would not specify precisely where the ill person lived, but stressed that the threat to the general public remained low.

“In the event that that risk changes we will make everyone aware,” said Dr. Angell.

The state, she said, is ramping up disease surveillance, laboratory capacity, planning for greater demands on the medical system and modeling the disease to forecast future community needs.

Dr. Angell said at the moment, members of the public should go about their normal lives, but thoroughly wash their hands, avoid touching their eyes, face or nose with unwashed hands and stay home from work or school if they have respiratory symptoms.


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