First Patient Tests Positive for New Coronavirus in Nevada

March 5, 2020 Updated: March 5, 2020

The first patient tested positive for the new COVID-19 coronavirus in Nevada, health officials announced on March 5.

The case is considered a presumptive positive until the test is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but is being treated as confirmed for now, Dr. Fermin Leguen, health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District, said at a press conference.

The patient, a Clark County resident, is being held in airborne isolation at a local hospital, according to Kimberly Hertin, the district’s disease surveillance supervisor. The patient is a male in his 50s with an underlying health condition.

Officials declined to name the hospital at which the patient is being cared.

The man recently traveled to Washington state and Texas, officials said. Washington state has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country and 10 of the 11 deaths from the illness have taken place there. Texas authorities said on Wednesday that the first patient tested positive for the new virus.

There is no sign of community spread of the virus at this time, or cases with unknown origin, and officials are working on tracing people who came into contact with the patient. Contacts of the man are being asked to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms of the new virus, which causes a disease called COVID-19.

“The State of Nevada and our local health authorities are taking this situation very seriously and have been preparing for weeks in anticipation of a presumptive case,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement.

New York
People wear surgical masks in fear of the coronavirus in Flushing, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens on Feb. 3, 2020. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

New cases in other states were also announced on Thursday. New York authorities reported a doubling of cases, mostly connected to a cluster linked to Manhattan and Westchester County, while Washington officials reported dozens of new cases.

Illinois said its fifth patient was a man in his 20s who returned to Cook County after traveling to Italy, where the number of cases has exploded in recent days.

As of Tuesday night, in Nevada more than 400 people were or are currently under monitoring, the state Department of Health and Human services said. About half of those completed monitoring without developing symptoms or were determined to have no risk. Fourteen people had tested negative for the virus.

Dr. Mark Pandori, director of Nevada’s public health laboratory, told The Epoch Times earlier in the week that he expected the number of people being tested in the state to increase. The case definition from the CDC could continue to change, he said—the CDC later in the week issued guidance allowing states to test anyone, subject to a doctor’s order—and the expectation that surveillance testing, or testing a wider variety of specimens, would become routine.

“Eventually, we’ll be able test without any criteria,” he said.

Under an emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration, Nevada and other states appeared to be legally bound for now to follow the CDC definition if using the test kits the federal agency manufactured, he said.

Nevada was working on getting its capacity higher. The state lab could potentially test up to 100 specimens a day when the capacity is boosted, Pandori said.

The state lab director said there was some suspicion that there were undetected cases in the state because of the connection to northern California, where a slew of cases have been confirmed in recent weeks.

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