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First Case of Possible Community Transmission of COVID-19 Reported in U.S

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Credit: NIAID-RML

A person in California who was not exposed to anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus, and had not traveled to countries in which the virus is circulating, has tested positive for the infection.1

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported the first possible case of community spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“At this point, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC statement said. “The case was detected through the U.S. public health system and picked up by astute clinicians.”

The individual is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical care in Sacramento County. The patient didn’t have a relevant travel history or exposure to another patient with the virus, the CDC said Wednesday.2

Community spread would represent a significant turn for the worse in the battle against the virus. To date, the United States has 60 known cases of the infection, with 59 among people who traveled to Asia or were close contacts of people who went there. The vast majority, 42, picked up the virus while quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan.3

If the infection is confirmed to be a case of “community spread,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “it would confirm what we have long suspected — that there is a good chance there already are people infected in this country and that the virus is circulating undetected. It points to the need for expanded surveillance so we know how many more are out there and how to respond.”3

1. C.D.C. Confirms First Possible Community Transmission of Coronavirus in U.S. NY Times

2. CDC confirms first possible community transmission of coronavirus in US CNBC

3. First person in U.S. tests positive for coronavirus with no link to foreign travel Washington Post

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