Wisconsin DHS confirms its first coronavirus case

Flight crews are seen wearing masks at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport in Toronto, Canada, January 26, 2020. - Toronto Public Health confirmed Saturday that a case of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China is currently being treated in a Toronto Hospital. (Photo by Cole BURSTON / AFP) (Photo by COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

There are 12 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the US. Among them are the first two cases of person-to-person transmissions of the virus in the US.

The World Health Organization and the United States have declared the outbreak a public health emergency, but US officials have urged residents not to panic.

The novel coronavirus, which has sickened thousands and killed nearly 500 people in China, belongs to a large family of viruses that mostly sicken animals. But this coronavirus, like SARS and MERS, “jumped the species barrier” to infect people on a large scale, the CDC said.

In response, the US began putting travel restrictions in place, temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days before their arrival to the US, a health official said.

Restrictions also apply to US citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the two weeks prior to their return to the United States. Upon their return, those citizens will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday.

Here’s what we know about the cases in the US:

Wisconsin

The 12th confirmed case was announced by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday. The adult patient has a history of travel to Beijing and was exposed to known cases while in China. The individual is isolated at home and doing well, the department said.

Wisconsin health officials maintained that the threat to the general public remains lows.

Washington state

The first confirmed coronavirus patient in the US, a man in his 30s, sought treatment at an urgent care center in the state after returning from Wuhan. The urgent care center sent his samples to the CDC, which confirmed he had the coronavirus.

He entered isolated care at a hospital in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, on January 23. He’s receiving treatment in an isolated gurney designed for patients with highly contagious diseases, and a robot takes his vitals.

He’s in stable condition, said Dr. George Diaz, the man’s physician and an infectious disease expert. He’ll undergo additional testing until he’s no longer contagious.

Illinois

A woman in her 60s in Chicago was diagnosed a few days after she returned from Wuhan on January 13. She’s in stable condition and “doing quite well,” her doctors said.

She’ll stay in the hospital to control the infection.

On January 30, the CDC confirmed that the woman transmitted the illness to her husband, who had not traveled to China. He was in close contact with his wife during a long period of time when she was symptomatic, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

California

California holds more than half of confirmed cases of the virus in the country — with officials announcing two more cases in San Benito County, bringing the total of the state to six.

The confirmed cases are in a husband and wife, both 57, according to San Benito County Public Health Services

The husband had recently traveled from Wuhan, China. His wife hadn’t — another case of person-to-person transmission.

The couple had stayed at home since the man’s return from China, according to Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the county’s interim public health officer. But on Monday the couple was transported from San Benito County to an undisclosed hospital in San Francisco, said Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The ninth confirmed case in the country was identified Sunday as an adult woman who recently traveled to Wuhan, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in California said.

The patient is a visitor in Santa Clara County, health officials said, and arrived on January 23 to visit family. She has remained at home ever since, except to seek medical care twice. “She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized,” the statement said.

Health officials in Santa Clara County on Friday also said a man became infected in China. Upon returning to Northern California on January 24, the man self-isolated and did not leave home, except to seek medical care. He was not sick enough to be hospitalized.

Dr. Sara Cody, health officer with the county, said officials are reaching out to everyone with whom the man may have had contact.

Details are sparse about a confirmed Los Angeles county patient. They’re currently being treated at a local hospital, though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health didn’t disclose how long they sought treatment after exposure to the virus.

The risk to Los Angeles County is low, the department said.

An Orange County man in his 50s flew into Los Angeles International Airport in Wuhan earlier this month. The county found out January 23, and the CDC confirmed his results on Saturday. He’s in a local hospital.

Arizona

The state health department confirmed the patient is an “adult member” of the Arizona State University community, though it didn’t release the patient’s age or gender.

The patient called their healthcare provider when they began to experience mild respiratory symptoms. The CDC confirmed the coronavirus on Sunday.

The patient isn’t hospitalized, but is self-isolated at home, the department said.

Students at the university petitioned the administration to cancel classes, saying they felt unsafe with a case of the virus on campus.

Massachusetts

On Saturday, officials also confirmed a student in his 20s at the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts had the virus.

The student had returned from Wuhan on January 29. He sought medical treatment after his return and has been isolated ever since. The few close contacts he had have been identified and monitored for symptoms.

The case poses no increased risk to other students on the schools’ campus, the medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission told reporters Saturday. He’s “doing quite well” in quarantine at his home and is being monitored by public health nurses.

Who’s still at risk

The CDC is monitoring more than 120 cases in the US and has ruled out the virus in another 114 patients.

Though health officials have confirmed person-to-person contact, they maintain that the immediate risk to the public is low.

There are more than 170 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus — but no deaths so far — in more than 20 countries outside mainland China.

What’s being done

On January 30, the US State Department raised its China travel advisory to “Do Not Travel” and warned that it could put travel restrictions into effect with “little to no advance notice.” The CDC recommended US citizens to avoid nonessential travel to the country.

“If you are a traveler who has recently returned from the impacted area, we want you to be vigilant with the symptoms and signs of this coronavirus,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Multiple airlines have temporarily suspended all flights to China. The CDC was screening passengers from China at 20 American airports earlier this week.

Local health officials are cracking down on misinformation related to the virus, including fake reports of confirmed cases and conspiracy theories about its spread. The most accurate information comes from county, state and federal health departments and is updated regularly as officials learn more.

Otherwise, the CDC encourages people to follow flu season protocol: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid ill people and stay home and avoid public situations if they’re ill. A coronavirus vaccine would take at least a year to reach the public.

The CDC does not recommend Americans wear surgical masks in public. Surgical masks are effective against respiratory infections but not airborne infections.

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

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