US Coronavirus Patient With Unknown Exposure on Ventilator in Hospital

CDC Didn't Test Patient for 4 Days
By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
February 27, 2020Updated: February 27, 2020

The newest coronavirus patient in the United States has been on a ventilator at a California hospital since last week.

“When the patient arrived, the patient had already been intubated, was on a ventilator, and given droplet protection orders because of an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition,” the University of California Davis Medical Center said in a statement.

The patient is the 60th person in the country to have a confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus. But the patient is the first to not have a clear source of infection.

“The individual had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual,” the California Department Public of Health said in a statement.

Two other patients have become infected through person-to-person transmission but both had close, prolonged interaction with a family member who had been to China, where the virus emerged late last year.

The newest patient was transferred to UC Davis from another hospital in northern California on Feb. 19 with a suspected viral infection. Public health officials suspected the case might be COVID-19 and asked for testing by the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), “since neither Sacramento County nor the California Department of Public Health is doing testing for coronavirus at this time,” UC Davis officials Brad Simmons and David Lubarsky said in a letter to staffers.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health told The Epoch Times via email earlier this week that the department started providing limited testing for the new coronavirus as of Feb. 21. “The tests are limited to people who are part of federal repatriation efforts in California and suspected of being infected,” she said.

The new patient didn’t fit into the existing CDC criteria for patients, Simmons and David Lubarsky said. Testing didn’t occur until Feb. 23.

coronavirus mask
A woman wears a facemask in Westwood, California, in a Feb. 15, 2020, file photograph. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

“UC Davis Health does not control the testing process,” it said.

The CDC said in a statement that the case “was detected through the U.S. public health system—picked up by astute clinicians.” It didn’t mention a delay in testing.

Federal officials have resisted changing the case definition established weeks ago even as some experts pushed for expanding testing.

Both federal and state officials suggested the case wasn’t a surprise. The CDC warned earlier this week that there would likely be community spread of the virus in the United States at some point because of the explosion of cases in multiple countries outside of China, including Italy, Iran, and South Korea.

“We have been anticipating the potential for such a case in the U.S., and given our close familial, social and business relationships with China, it is not unexpected that the first case in the U.S. would be in California,” Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

Medical workers took steps to avoid becoming infected since the patient arrived at UC Davis, Lubarsky and Simmons said in the letter. But “out of an abundance of caution,” they asked a small number of employees to stay home and monitor their temperature.

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