CDC Confirms First Possible Instance of COVID-19 Community Spread in U.S.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed an infection of the Wuhan coronavirus, COVID-19, in California in a person who reportedly did not have any relevant travel history to an area affected by the outbreak, nor did they have exposure to a known patient with the virus.

“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said in a press release.  “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected.”

This development comes after the CDC warned Americans on Tuesday to prepare for an imminent COVID-19 spread in the U.S., saying it’s not a matter of if, but when. According to the CDC, the case was detected through the U.S. public health system by a team of “astute clinicians.” The case brings the total number of Americans infected with the virus to 60 – although it’s important to note that majority of the cases (42) are Americans who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan earlier this month.

The federal government is currently working closely with state, tribal, and territorial partners to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which has now killed at least 2,800 people worldwide, with most deaths occurring in mainland China.

More CDC Recommendations for COVID-19

While the CDC notes that the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is still relatively low, everyone should do their part to protect themselves and others. The CDC recommends:

  • Getting a flu vaccine and taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
  • If you are a healthcare provider, be on the look-out for people who recently traveled from China and have fever and respiratory symptoms.
  • If you are a healthcare provider caring for a COVID-19 patient or a public health responder, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
  • If you have been in China or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your travel or exposure to a COVID-19 patient.
  • For people who are ill with COVID-19, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others.