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Tourists in quarantine gather at the terrace of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary island of Tenerife, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu)
CDC spokesman Richard Quartarone said a preliminary review of agency records indicates the agency did not know about the woman until Sunday, the same day the woman was first tested.
Quartarone said the agency is concerned about reports of delayed testing and is “investigating this carefully.” He said the CDC can test about 400 specimens per day.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state was limited in how many people it could test because it only had 200 testing kits. But he said federal officials have promised to send many more in the coming days.
“I’m not going to politicize this moment And I’m not going to point fingers," Newsom said. “We have had a very strong working relationship with the (Trump) administration.”
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Investigators were focused on tracing the woman's movements to figure out how she got the virus and who else she may have unwittingly infected. The woman first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, a city of more than 100,000 people about 59 miles (95 kilometers) from San Francisco.
Ten experts from the CDC arrived Thursday and were heading to Vacaville to help with the search, said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.
With the patient as ground zero, they are interviewing immediate family members. Then, as with any similar case, they are expanding the net to include more distant family members who may have been in contact, social events the patient may have attended, like going to church. Did she go to work? Attend a concert?
They are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Watt, who was the state’s deputy epidemiologist for 10 years before he took the interim post two months ago.
“That’s more than casual contact at a grocery store,” Watt said. “That’s where our focus is going to be. … What was the pattern of disease transmission?”
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All of the 59 other cases in the U.S. have been for people who had traveled abroad or had close contact with others who traveled.
Earlier U.S. cases included 14 in people who returned from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from where the ship was docked in Japan.
Some of those people have been treated at Travis Air Force Base, located in Solano County where the Northern California woman lives. But there is no evidence the woman has any connection to the base, said Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.
The global count of those sickened by the virus hovered Thursday around 82,000, with 433 new cases reported in China and another 505 in South Korea.
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The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that can cause colds or more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS.
The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
Officials are advising people to take steps to avoid infection with coronavirus or other respiratory infections like colds or the flu, including washing hands with soap and water and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
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