EVERETT, Wash. — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in the United States, in Snohomish County.
According to the CDC, the man, in his 30s, recently returned from a trip to China and is being treated at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. The CDC deployed a team to Snohomish County to help assist health officials.
Officials said the man arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, Jan. 15.
“He was not symptomatic on the flight,” Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington State Department of Health Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, said. “But as was stated earlier, this is a new virus and we don't know when you're truly infectious. Some viruses you can be infectious a couple days before you show symptoms. We don't know that yet.”
Officials said he took a group mode of transportation to get home from the hospital, then began to show symptoms on the 16th. He sought treatment at an unnamed local clinic for symptoms of pneumonia on Sunday.
Tests for coronavirus were confirmed on Monday, officials said, and he was transported to Providence Regional Medical Center.
“We believe the risk to the public is low,” Dr. Chris Spitters, the interim health officer of the Snohomish Health District, said on a teleconference.
Officials said the man acted quickly to seek treatment and is in a special isolation unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. Health officials said he had been visiting family in Wuhan, was traveling alone, and lives alone. He does not have any pre-existing conditions that would have made him more susceptible to the virus, Dr. Spitters said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
According to officials, the small number of healthcare workers and patients who were exposed have been notified for symptom watch.
“Our number one priority is to complete the identification of all the patient's contacts, reach out to the contacts, and monitor their health,” Dr. John Weisman, Washington State Secretary of Health, said.
Officials with the CDC said screenings for Wuhan coronavirus began Friday at San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
1,200 passengers have been screened so far and additional screenings are expected to take place at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and O’Hare International Airport, officials said.
Officials said Tuesday that the Washington state public shouldn’t do anything differently unless they’ve recently traveled to Wuhan. For those who have traveled there in the last few weeks, they recommend self-monitoring and looking for fever, cough, or other respiratory issues.
WHAT IS THE DISEASE?
Scientists have identified it as a new kind of coronavirus. There are many known types of coronaviruses. Some cause the common cold. Others found in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) or MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
WHY IS IT CALLED A CORONAVIRUS?
Corona comes from Latin and refers to crowns or halos. Under a microscope, these viruses resemble crowns or halos.
WHEN WAS THE NEW VIRUS FOUND?
The outbreak started late last month in the city of Wuhan in central China and has been linked to a seafood and animal market that has since been shut down. The current patient in Washington stated he did not visit the market.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE IT AND HOW WIDESPREAD IS IT?
China reports 440 cases have been identified and 9 people have died.
KIRO 7 will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.
Watch a press conference from the Washington Department of Health and the CDC in the video embedded below:
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