Coronavirus: Gov. Newsom says Calif. is prepared for first COVID-19 case with unknown origin

ByAmy Hollyfield and Laura Anthony KGO logo
Friday, February 28, 2020
33 current cases of coronavirus confirmed in Calif.
Governor Newsom addresses California's first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus with an unknown origin in a Bay Area woman being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. However, a state health official says the risk to the public remains low.

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom provided an update Thursday to the state's response to coronavirus. Officials say there are 33 confirmed cases currently in California, but officials reiterate the risk to the public remains low.

"The case yesterday understandably generated a lot of attention, but did not surprise any of the folks standing to my left or right," said Newsom. "We knew this was inevitable as it relates to the nature, the epidemiology and nature of these viruses that that information would occur."

There are more than 8,400 people in the state who are being monitored in 49 different jurisdictions after arriving on flights from Asia, state health officials said.

"We have to meet this moment with a sense of urgency and conviction that transcends politics and transcends pettiness. I will not allow my administration to participate in that and I hope we collectively can elevate above that," Gov. Newsom said.

A new case of the novel coronavirus has been detected in Northern California in a woman who has not traveled overseas since the outbreak began. This suggests the virus could be spreading locally, person-to-person, the CDC said.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19," the CDC said in a press release.

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It is unknown how the woman contracted the virus. If it was contracted in the United States, it would be the country's first case of it spreading here, as opposed to being exposed overseas.

The woman is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical treatment at UC Davis Medical Center, according to the California Department of Public Health.

UC Davis Health officials say the woman was transferred to their facility from a Vacaville hospital on Feb. 19. They say when the patient arrived, they had already been intubated, were on a ventilator, and were given droplet protection orders because of an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition.

According to UC Davis, their team requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC, however since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for the virus, the test was not immediately administered.

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On Sunday, the CDC ordered COVID-19 testing of the patient and the patient was put on airborne precautions because of concerns about their condition. On Wednesday, the CDC confirmed the patient's test was positive.

The woman has not been in contact with any of the evacuees isolated at Travis Air Force Base and health officials are tracing everyone she might've had contact with.

"They're contacting any individuals who might've been exposed and they're isolating them," said Sonia Angelle, Director of the California Department of Public Health.

Newsom emphasized the most urgent need in California is for more testing kits, and testing locations with quick in-state turnaround.

"We have just a few hundred testing kits in the state of California. That's surveillance testing as well as diagnostic testing and that's simply inadequate," Newsom explained.

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"It was just moments ago that we were on with the CDC's director learning about our ability to expand treating here in the state to receive more testing kits," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Department of Health and Human Resources.

There have been 33 confirmed cases so far in California, but five of those patients have left the state. Twenty-four of the total number of cases were among the evacuees, seven were travel-related, one became sick through close person-to-person contact and the latest one, from unknown origin.

The state's Medical and Health Coordination Center was activated last month, a command center for the various agencies monitoring and responding to the virus.

"Everybody in this country is rightfully anxious about this moment," said Newsom. "But I want them to know that we are meeting this moment with the kind of urgency that is necessary."

Health officials said the health risk to the general public from the coronavirus remains low and most who get it do not require hospitalization.

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