CDC Announces Possible Community Spread of COVID-19 in the United States


The CDC has confirmed an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that a laboratory confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 has been confirmed in an individual with no relevant travel history or exposure to other COVID-19 patients. At this time health officials have been unable to determine how the patient was exposed to the virus.

Based on this, the CDC noted that this could be the first instance of community spread of COVID-19 in the United States. However, it is possible that the individual was exposed to a person who returned from outside of the country who was infected.

This case, which is the 15th in the United States, was detected by clinicians through the US public health system.

"The federal government has been working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat," the CDC said in their announcement. "Unprecedented, aggressive efforts have been taken to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of this virus."

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the CDC will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Currently, there are no approved therapies for the treatment of COVID-19. Earlier this week it was announced that the first clinical trial evaluating experimental treatments for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has launched in the United States. The randomized controlled trial will assess the activity of the antiviral remdesivir among hospitalized adults at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

The first enrolled patient in the trial is an American citizen who was repatriated following quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

On February 17, 2020, 13 individuals were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were transported to the National Quarantine Unit which is located in the Training, Simulation, and Quarantine Center on the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine campus. Of the 13 individuals, 11 have been confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2 infection.

In a call with members of the media on Friday, February 14, 2020, the CDC said they will begin to test individuals with influenza-like-illness for the novel coronavirus. This will take place at public health labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City.

The CDC plans to expand this initiative to more cities in the coming weeks with the goal of eventually conducting national surveillance in order to guide response strategy.

Last week, Contagion®, a New Jersey based publication, spoke to Christina Tan, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist and assistant commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Health, about COVID-19.

"Preparedness is very important just in general to keep in the back of our minds, because we've seen over the last decade, the emergence of a variety of different emerging infections," Tan said, when asked about preparing for novel pathogens. "Whether it's COVID-19, whether it's SARS, a related novel coronavirus situation, MERS, again another related novel coronavirus that has emerged in the last decade... preparedness is always a very important issue that we should always be keeping in the front of our minds, whether you're in health care or in public health."

For the most recent cases in the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

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