CDC mistakenly removes San Diego’s first positive coronavirus case from hospital

A Kalitta Air jet carrying U.S. citizens evacuated from China, where the coronavirus is raging, landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar about 8:30 a.m. Friday.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A botched test result allowed an evacuee infected with the coronavirus to leave a San Diego hospital Monday after initially being told by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the person was in the clear.

The situation was detailed in a brief statement released by UC San Diego Health, which says that all four quarantine patients admitted to its isolation units last week were discharged back to quarantine quarters at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after the CDC said the coronavirus tests came back negative.

“This morning, CDC officials advised ... that further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive” for coronavirus, the UC San Diego statement said. “The confirmed positive patient was returned to UC San Diego Health for observation and isolation until cleared by the CDC for release.”


The university also said it has received another patient with possible coronavirus symptoms, bringing the total hospitalized out of Miramar quarantine to eight.

The 195 Americans who have been under a 14-day coronavirus quarantine have been released. None of the travelers who flew into March Air Reserve Base last month tested positive for coronavirus, health authorities said.

Feb. 11, 2020

The two patients in isolation units at UC San Diego facilities are said to be “doing well” with “minimal symptoms.”

It was not immediately clear what route the infected evacuee took out of the university hospital nor which of UC San Diego’s two main medical centers was involved. It also was not clear how long the infected evacuee was circulating inside quarantine after being told they tested negative. CDC, university and county health officials were not immediately available to comment.

A total of 232 American citizens and their family members are serving the 14-day government-mandated quarantine after arriving on base last week. They are staying at two cordoned-off buildings, a small hotel and a single-room occupancy quarters for officers, and have no contact with base personnel.

Sisson writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.