The first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in a patient who did not recently travel overseas has been reported in the United States.
The case occurred in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday, adding that the patient had not been exposed to anyone else known to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said in a statement. “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States.”
The CDC went on to explain that “community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected.”
The new case brings the total diagnosed in the U.S. to 15.
As the number of cases in the U.S. rises, cities in California are responding.
One day before the news of the case with unknown origin, San Fransisco Mayor London Breed declared the city in a state of emergency in an effort to prepare for the virus’ possible arrival.
“Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step up preparedness,” Breed said in her announcement Tuesday, according to USA Today. “We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm.”
San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon added, “Given the high volume of travel between San Francisco and mainland China, there is a growing likelihood that we will see cases of COVID-19 eventually.”
Breed stressed that the declaration is “all about preparedness,” and will help the city get reimbursed by both state and federal government on money spent to go towards being prepared, CNN reported.
Orange County declared a local health emergency on Wednesday, according to USA Today, joining Santa Clara and San Diego counties, which made similar declarations.
The government attention to the novel coronavirus has reached a federal level.
In a news conference about the novel coronavirus held on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will be in charge of the United States’ response to the virus as concerns across the globe continue to rise.
“I’m going to be putting our Vice President Mike Pence in charge, and Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors and everybody else that’s working,” Trump told reporters, according to CNN.
Pence added, “We have no higher priority than the safety, security, health and wellbeing of the American people.”
Trump also suggested he’d be willing to work with Democrats on funding the efforts against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
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“We started out by looking at certain things, we’ve been working with the Hill very, very carefully, very strongly, and I think that we have very good bipartisan spirit for money,” he said. “We were asking for $2.5 billion, and we think that that is a lot. But the Democrats — and I guess Senator Schumer — wants us to have much more than that.”
“Normally I’d say we’ll take it, we’ll take it. If they want give more, we’ll do more. We’ll spend whatever is appropriate,” he added.
The CDC reported on Tuesday that there have been 53 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., including those that were diagnosed abroad. The case announced on Wednesday brings that number to 54.
Of those cases, 15 were diagnosed in the U.S., and of those, 12 were related to travel from China, where the outbreak began.
The 15 cases diagnoses in the U.S. cover only six states: one in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin, two in Illinois and now nine in California.
No deaths have been reported in the U.S.