US Coronavirus Case Stemmed From Unknown Origin

(CN) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday a person in California is the first in the United States to be infected with the coronavirus who has not traveled to countries where the virus has spread and has not had contact with anyone who was exposed.

The CDC said it could be the first case of community spread in the country.

“At this point, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said in a statement. “The case was detected through the U.S. public health system and picked up by astute clinicians.”

FILE – This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, File)

There are now 60 reported cases of Americans infected with the virus, including 45 who were in Wuhan, China where the outbreak began and a cruise ship.

The announcement comes shortly after President Donald Trump held a briefing about the virus, announcing that he would support spending for a coronavirus task force to be headed by Vice President Mike Pence.

“We are asking for $2.5 billion – I think that’s a lot,” he told reporters. “The Democrats and [Senator Chuck] Schumer want us to have much more than that. We’ll spend whatever is appropriate.”

Public health officials have been able to track down the source of all infections until now, whether it be from travel abroad or exposure to a person who has traveled through an infected area. CDC officials say this case appears to be community spread, an infection with an unknown source.

Officials said the patient is a resident of Solano County, California, and is currently being treated in Sacramento County.

While government officials have developed a testing kit sent to local governments, the kits were flawed and more must be made and distributed.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a media briefing Tuesday. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

The coronavirus, recently renamed the COVID-19 virus, has spread to 30 countries and has killed more than 2,700 people.

The CDC warned Tuesday that more cases should be expected.

“Our aggressive containment has been working,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. “However, we do expect more cases.”

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