Santa Clara County is grappling with its third coronavirus case, and its first of unknown origin, meaning the patient was not connected to foreign travel or someone who was.
That raises the prospects that she might have contracted the virus through the community.
Such a scenario is already playing out in Solano County, where officials are searching for people who might have come in contact with a woman who is believed to be the country’s first novel coronavirus patient who did not recently travel outside the U.S. or come in contact with someone who did.
What do we know about the Santa Clara County patient?
She is an older adult woman with chronic health conditions who was hospitalized for a respiratory illness, officials said at a news conference Friday.
Her physician contacted the public health department this week to discuss the case and request testing for the novel coronavirus. The department is working to identify contacts and understand the extent of exposure.
Do we know how she contracted the virus?
No. Officials have said that she does not appear to have connections to China or to the military bases in California where some people from Asia were held.
What happens next?
Authorities will be looking for people who were in contact with the patient and likely would consider placing them under quarantine while they test them for the virus.
“Since the disease is here, an important priority for the department will be to conduct community surveillance to determine the extent of local transmission,” the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said in a statement. “Since the County Public Health Laboratory has the ability to run the test, the department can quickly evaluate what is happening in our community.”
But officials also urged caution.
“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear,” said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County and director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. “I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for. Now we need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease.”