The U.S. reported its first case of a COVID-19 infection in an individual who had not been to China or exposed to another person with the novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday night. This would mark the first instance of what experts call "community spread" in the U.S. All previous U.S. cases can be directly connected to travel to mainland China, time as a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, or in two instances spread of the virus between spouses. The case was announced by the CDC after President Donald Trump held a news conference aiming to ease American worries about the outbreak, in part by putting Vice President Michael Pence in charge of the U.S.’s COVID-19 response. "At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown," the CDC said. "It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19…It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected." There are now 60 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including among 45 people who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess and from Wuhan, China, the city that first detected the virus in December. Six people are counted as recovered in the U.S. Worldwide, there are now 82,549 cases of COVID-19, at least 2,810 deaths, and about 33,252 people, primarily in China’s Hubei Province, have recovered, according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. (The World Health Organization’s dashboard tracking COVID-19 remains down.) A number of countries including Iran, Italy, and South Korea have also reported community spread as the number of cases in their countries have soared in recent days. Iran now has 245 cases, 26 deaths, and 49 people have recovered; Italy has 528 cases, 14 deaths and 40 people have recovered; and South Korea has 1,766 cases, 13 deaths, and 22 people have recovered.
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