SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. — Solano County declared a local emergency Thursday after health officials confirmed that a woman tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the first known person-to-person case spread in the community in the United States.
The woman is currently being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Health officials said the woman was not exposed to the virus after traveling or after being in contact with someone who had traveled.
"It is important to recognize that we have moved from containment to mitigation," said Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas in a press release. "We are investigating potential exposures and ensuring that proper evaluation and care are provided if they become sick."
According to officials, the woman has been at UC Davis hospital since Feb. 19 after coming from the NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Solano County. NorthBay officials said the woman, who stayed in the hospital for three days, was never tested for coronavirus because she did not fit the criteria for symptoms issued by the Center for Disease Control.
The woman continued to get sicker while at NorthBay, and was eventually taken to UC Davis for further observation. The woman was not tested for COVID-19 until Sunday, Feb. 23, when the CDC ordered a test. Three days later, the woman was confirmed to have the virus.
Officials at Travis Air Force Base, where hundreds of Americans evacuated from China were being quarantined, announced that it authorized a public health emergency on the base.
"This order is one of a spectrum of options for the commander to better protect the public health and safety of our Airmen and families," a Travis AFB statement read. "At this time, normal operations will continue at Travis AFB with no impact to our primary mission."
On Thursday, because of the delayed testing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – California), requested rapid testing for all suspected coronavirus cases.
"It is unclear whether the delay was caused by overly restrictive CDC testing criteria or whether the CDC was unable to process the diagnostic test faster," Feinstein wrote in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who is overseeing the U.S. response to the virus. "Either way, this case demonstrates the need for more rapid testing."
Matyas said it is too early to know which path of the coronavirus will take in its natural course.
Matyas said the patient's family must be quarantined for 14 days from the last time they were in contact with the woman. It's highly likely the virus will spread throughout families, Matyas said.
He said the goal is to make the coronavirus a low-level disease where most cases are mild that won’t need to be hospitalized.
Employees at UC Davis and NorthBay VacaValley hospitals who came in contact with the woman were asked to stay home and self-monitor for the virus. Both hospitals are still open and are working under normal operations.
Solano County officials said they are working with local, state and federal agencies to contain the coronavirus. The county activated its Department Operations Center to identify, screen and follow up with those who could have also been exposed to the virus.
Solano County Public Health officials said they consider the coronavirus a public health threat but that the risk to the public is still low.
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