The California woman who tested positive for coronavirus despite having no contact with anyone with the virus is in “serious condition,” her congressman, California Rep. John Garamendi, told CNN.
The source of her coronavirus transmission has been a mystery to health officials since the woman, from Solano County in Northern California, was diagnosed on Wednesday. The woman has not traveled recently, and it does not appear that she’s come in contact with anyone who could have had the disease.
And despite concerns from doctors that she had coronavirus, the woman was not tested for the virus for nearly a week based on Centers for Disease Control regulations, which had limited testing only to people who have recently returned from China or close contacts of people who have already been diagnosed with coronavirus. The CDC has since expanded testing to anyone whom doctors suspect has coronavirus.
Based on this woman, Solano County Public Health has declared a local emergency to help them investigate the cause of her illness.
“This does appear to be a person who genuinely did acquire their illness in the community,” Solano County Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said in a news conference Thursday, according to CNN.
In another interview with MSNBC, Garamendi said that the woman “is very, very sick, at this moment.” The congressman also called out the CDC’s response to the coronavirus and said that the agency needs to allow states to independently test suspected coronavirus cases.
The California woman is the 15th person to be diagnosed with coronavirus while living in the U.S., though the other cases have occurred in people who recently traveled to China or their close contacts. There are also an additional 45 cases of people who were repatriated back to the U.S. by the State Department, either because they were living in Hubei province, the epicenter of the disease, or because they were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan after coronavirus spread through the ship.
The CDC said Tuesday that Americans should start preparing for coronavirus to spread in the U.S. with the “expectation that this could be bad.”
“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,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing.
Messonnier said that Americans should establish plans for what they would do in case of school and office closures. The CDC also says that the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.