CDC Released Texas Patient Who Later Tested Positive for New Coronavirus

March 2, 2020 Updated: March 2, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a patient from isolation in San Antonio, Texas, after two tests returned negative for the new coronavirus, but the person later tested positive.

The patient “met the criteria for release,” including two negative test results and a lack of symptoms, the federal agency said in a statement, “but later returned to isolation after a pending, subsequent lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.”

“Following the patient’s release, results of a subsequent sample were received, and determined to be weakly positive. Out of an abundance of caution, CDC decided to bring the individual back into isolation at a local medical facility,” the agency stated.

The patient did come into contact with others after their release and federal and local authorities are following up with those people to notify them of their potential risk.

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American evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2020. (Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)

Much is now known about the virus, including the cycle of infection, leading the CDC to require a patient to have two negative test results from specimens taken more than 24 hours apart.

The cycle seen in the patient held in Texas “is longer than what has been previously seen,” the agency stated.

The patient was part of a group evacuated from Wuhan, China, earlier this year. The new virus emerged in that city late last year.

Local officials condemned the release of the patient.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called what happened “unacceptable,” adding, “We will hold the CDC accountable to provide complete transparency for the public.”

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U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess and officials wait for the takeoff of a Kalitta Air airplane at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Feb. 17, 2020. (Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)

Nirenberg accused the CDC of not following guidance from medical experts and noted a group of Americans flown from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were slated to be released from quarantine on March 2.

“I have asked the CDC to do everything in their power to ensure that those who are released pose no risk to the community,” he said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that he has repeatedly raised concerns about evacuees and called for extended quarantines. Letters he sent in February went unanswered, he said.

“Our federal representatives, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Defense cannot and should not ignore us now. We are in dire need of additional resources and protocols immediately to include longer quarantine periods and the opening of appropriate facilities such as the Alabama facility or the San Antonio Military Medical Center. Please do not delay any longer and risk local transmission,” he wrote in a statement.

Eleven evacuees under quarantine in Texas have previously tested positive for the new virus. The number includes nine who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess, one who was flown out of Wuhan, and one who was quarantined at a military base in California before being transferred to a base in San Antonio.

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