In Brief

California's latest coronavirus case wasn't tested for several days

The UC Davis Medical Center, where a patient tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The UC Davis Medical Center, where a patient tested positive for the new coronavirus. (Image credit: UC Davis Medical Center)

A coronavirus patient in Northern California wasn't tested for the virus for several days after arriving at the hospital, according to news reports. This patient may be the first known case in the U.S. to catch the virus through community spread.

The patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center on Feb. 19, after being transferred from another hospital, according to the Los Angeles Times. At that time, the patient's medical team asked public health officials if this could be a case of COVID-19,  the disease caused by the new virus, according to a statement from the medical center. The medical team then requested COVID-19 testing for this patient from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, because the patient did not fit the CDC's existing criteria for testing for COVID-19, a test wasn't administered right away, the statement said.

It wasn't until Sunday (Feb. 23) that the CDC ordered testing for the patient, and on Wednesday (Feb. 26), the agency confirmed the patient tested positive.

Throughout the patient's stay, the medical team took proper precautions to prevent the spread of a viral respiratory infection, and the patient was placed under even more strict precautions starting on Feb. 23. Because of this, "we believe there has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center," the statement said.

Still, as an additional precaution, the medical center is asking a small number of employees to stay home from work and monitor their temperature.

Prior to arriving at UC Davis Medical Center, the patient was treated at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, California, according to The Washington Post. She arrived at that hospital on Feb. 15 with flu-like symptoms.

NorthBay is now monitoring the health of dozens of its staff who may have had contact with the patient, the Post reported. Those who had direct contact with the patient have been tested for the new coronavirus, and so far, none have tested positive.

Originally published on Live Science. 

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.