The Slatest

First Coronavirus Case in U.S. Reported Without Clear Link to Global Outbreak

President Trump holds up a sheet of paper with a map on it during his coronavirus press conference at the White House.
President Trump talks coronavirus.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

On Wednesday, as President Trump was offering a generally incoherent dismissal of the potential impact of coronavirus in the U.S., the first case of what’s believed to be “community transmission” was reported. The person is the first to contract the virus without any direct link to the areas most affected by the outbreak and without any contact with someone known to have the virus. That’s a foreboding sign, indicating the virus may already be spreading undetected in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All of the 59 previously reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S. were detected among people who had either traveled to Asia or come into close contact with someone who had. So far, most of those cases have been related to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan. It remains unclear how this latest transmission occurred, but the person is currently being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in northern California, where the individual arrived 10 days ago, on Feb. 19. The patient arrived from another hospital in Northern California, but a coronavirus test was not administered for five days despite an immediate request submitted to the CDC for screening.

“Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for covid-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process,” UC Davis Medical Center administrators said in an email. “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 positive result for coronavirus test was confirmed on Wednesday.