[CNN] reports the California patient who tested positive for the coronavirus days after being hospitalized is in serious condition and intubated, California Rep. John Garamendi told CNN’s Erin Burnett.  The Solano County woman has puzzled health officials, who say they have not been able to trace where she contracted the virus. The patient didn’t have any relevant travel history, exposure to another known patient and wasn’t one of the evacuees repatriated from China, officials said.  “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.

Of the 60 confirmed US cases, 42 are former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan after an outbreak and quarantine; three were repatriated from Wuhan, China, and the other 14 were patients who had recently been to China or were the spouses of someone who had returned from the country. The patient, who is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center, could be the first instance of “community spread” of the virus, the CDC said Wednesday.

Community spread.

When a factor of “community spread” is added to the equation, it means that the germ is out there and anyone in the community is susceptible to catching it. While California maintains that there is no major threat to the community presently, precautions should be taken to avoid further community spread.  The simplest suggestions at this point in time are to engage in good hand-washing habits, and stay away from large crowds when possible.  Wearing masks is important for those who are already infected to localize infectious droplets, but do not need to be worn by healthy individuals as their use is about containing the virus, versus contracting the virus through droplets in the air.

Updated testing criteria.

The California patient was not initially tested as they did not meet the CDC criteria for Coronavirus testing, having not traveled abroad, specifically to China or been in close contact with someone who had, or been part of the travel industry.  There was a five-day gap between the time the patient was transferred to UC Davis and the Coronavirus testing and the patient is currently in serious condition. It was decided to expand the Coronavirus testing criteria to include all patients exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus and expanding above the stipulation of travel abroad,  close contact to someone who recently visited China, or works in the travel industry.

U.S. Response.

Ninety-three U.S. Labs are expected to have testing capability by this weekend according to Health and Human Services Secretary  Alex Azar, and at least 70 companies are competing to develop a “bedside diagnostic” test for hospitals.  There is a two-step test authorized by the FDA that wil lallow  labs outside of the CDC to test for the virus.  “Forty labs are qualified to already be doing that,” Azar said. A team of researchers are working to evaluate how effective the antiviral drug Remdesivir would be on people diagnosed with the virus, the National Institutes of Health said. The clinical trial, taking place at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, will test the drug first on an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Community health in hands of U.S. Government officials.

Community health includes initiatives that attempt to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and prepare for natural disasters.  Curbing the spread of infectious disease is a priority of community health programs. It is important for community members to pay attention to community, state and federal news regarding the coronavirus and measures to avoid contracting the disease. Government officials will need to provide effective guidance on how the U.S. will handle the risks of the coronavirus.

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