Coronavirus: Another Case of Community Transmission, in Santa Clara County

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An illustration of the 2019 novel coronavirus. (Courtesy of CDC)

The Santa Clara County health department has announced the county’s third case of COVID-19. This new infection is more worrisome than the previous two because the woman infected has no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with anyone confirmed to have the new coronavirus -- what medical professionals call "community transmission."

The health department says the patient is an "older adult woman with chronic health conditions" who is a resident of Santa Clara County.

The woman was hospitalized for a respiratory illness, the department says, and her physician requested testing for COVID-19.

"Since receiving the results last night, the department has been working to identify contacts and understand the extent of the exposures," the department said in a press release.

After a media report, citing an unidentified nurse, stated the patient was being treated at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, the hospital released a statement saying it has treated a COVID-19 patient.

Dr. Sara Cody, director of the  of the Santa Clara Public Health Department, said in a statement that the new case "indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear."

'I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for," she said. Now we will need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease."

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Cody said residents need "to think about what actions they can take now so we can be prepared for the possibility of further spread of the virus in our community."

The first likely case of community transmission, in California as well as the U.S.,  was a woman in Solano County who is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento County.

The California Department of Public Health says there are now eight public health labs in the state that can test for COVID-19. The labs are located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Tulare, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

Another Case in Solano

Also Friday afternoon, a new case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in a Solano County resident by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county's health department said. The infected individual was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where an outbreak infected dozens of people. Yet another patient, who had tested positive in Japan, is pending confirmation of infection from the CDC.

Both patients had been evacuated to Travis Air Force Base, near Fairfield, and have now been transferred to mandatory home isolation, the department said.

Students Sent Home

In other coronavirus news in the region, Palo Alto Unified School District announced it had sent two students home from school as a precautionary measure after district officials received a report that one of their parents may have been exposed to the new coronavirus.

One of the students attends Palo Alto High School and the other goes to JLS Middle School, the district said. Both will have to stay home "until we receive more information," the district said.