First Coronavirus Case Confirmed in Napa Valley, California

February 19, 2020 Updated: February 19, 2020
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A case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in Napa Valley, California, an area known by many Americans for producing high-quality wine, local officials said late Tuesday.

The majority of the 16 cases of the new virus in the United States are in California.

Testing confirmed the single case of the new virus and the patient is under isolation at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, the Napa County government said in a statement. A second patient with symptoms is also at the hospital pending tests. Neither person is a resident of Napa County.

“There is minimal risk for Napa County residents from the arrival of these two patients at the Queen of the Valley,” said Napa County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio in a statement. “They are in isolation, and are receiving medical care and undergoing testing.”

Both patients arrived at the hospital on Monday from Travis Air Force Base, where they were part of a group that was flown in from Japan. The group was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama before the U.S. government evacuated them on a State Department-chartered flight over the weekend.

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Buses carrying U.S. passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, seen in background, leaves Yokohama port near Tokyo early on Feb. 17, 2020. (Jun Hirata/Kyodo News via AP)

Another five people among the group were identified as needing testing or hospitalization. They were sent to local hospitals in Solano County but because of the limited number of isolation beds in the county, two were sent over to Napa County.

Workers at Queen of the Valley are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which hasn’t publicly confirmed the 16th domestic case, to care for the patients, according to Amy Herold, chief medical officer at the hospital.

“Out of caution, the patients are being monitored in special isolation rooms that have negative pressure to minimize the risk of exposure,” she said in a statement.

“Our hospital is equipped to handle the virus. Our caregivers are well prepared; they have received training, have practiced for these scenarios and are wearing protective equipment to minimize their risk of exposure. No hospital operations are impacted,” she added.

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A group of ambulances from the Solano EMS Cooperative stage at the visitor center at Travis Air Force Base, adjacent to Fairfield, Calif., on Feb. 16, 2020. (Hector Amezcua/AP Photo)

Coronaviruses usually circulate among animals but in rare cases can jump to humans and begin transmitting human-to-human. The new disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, emerged in China in December 2019. The origin is unknown.

Symptoms of the new virus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Some people show more severe symptoms such as pneumonia. Hundreds of people have been killed by the virus, mostly in China. Some experts believe the true number of cases and deaths in that country, ruled by a communist government, is actually higher.

The United States has evacuated people from both Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and Japan. Hundreds are under mandatory quarantine at military bases in California, Texas, and Nebraska. The last handful of cases have all been among the groups who were quarantined.

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