China Evacuee at Texas Base Is Diagnosed With Coronavirus, Marking 15th U.S. Case

A rendering of the 2019-nCoV strain of coronavirus is seen in an image released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A rendering of the 2019-nCoV strain of coronavirus is seen in an image released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 15th case of the novel coronavirus in the United States is one of the evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The patient has been under the 14-day federal quarantine since arriving in the United States from China on a chartered flight on February 7, the CDC said. The person, described by a CDC official as a “solo traveler,” has been isolated and is receiving medical care at a hospital.

“We are right in the middle of that potential incubation period so it is not surprising that maybe someone would have developed symptoms in this time frame,” Capt. Jennifer McQuiston of the CDC said in a news conference Thursday. “And we’re going to continue to be watching people during the whole 14-day quarantine period.”

Officials are investigating the patient’s movements while in quarantine and monitoring any individuals who had contact with the patient, McQuiston said.

“For the most part the people in quarantine are not doing much associating with each other,” she said.

The patient is receiving treatment at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, according to Dr. Paul Hancock, chief medical officer at Methodist Healthcare System.

The patient had a fever but is currently “stable with mild symptoms,” Hancock said.

The hospital activated “additional protocols” prior to the patient’s arrival under the CDC’s guidance. The patient was “privately escorted through a secluded entrance to avoid common areas” and kept under isolation.

This is the third case of the coronavirus confirmed among evacuees from China, following two cases in California.

It’s the first case of the coronavirus confirmed in Texas. Eight cases have been confirmed in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. There are two instances of person-to-person transmission: one in Illinois and one in California.

Earlier this week, 195 evacuees were released from federally mandated quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in California. No one in that group had tested positive for the novel coronavirus

According to the CDC, more than 600 people evacuated from Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, remain quarantined in the United States.

CDC director expects coronavirus to be around ‘beyond this year’

In an interview Thursday with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield indicated he doesn’t believe the coronavirus is going away soon.

“This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission,” Redfield said. “You can start to think of it in the sense like seasonal flu.”

More research is needed to fully understand the coronavirus, but Redfield said the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment to slow down the virus’ progression in the United States.

The coronavirus can be spread by patients who are not exhibiting symptoms, Redfield said, based on information from colleagues in China.

“What we don’t know, though, is how much of the asymptomatic cases are driving transmission,” he said.

The CDC has not been invited to China to assist with the outbreak, Redfield said, nearly six weeks after the CDC first offered.

“That letter has not been responded to yet by the official Chinese government,” he said. “We do believe that we’re the best in the world in this space and we’re ready to help and assist them, but they’re an independent nation that has to make that decision that they’re going to invite us in.”

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