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The new coronavirus may be spreading in parts of the Pacific Northwest, with California, Oregon, and Washington State reporting Friday that they have diagnosed cases with no travel history or known contact with another case.

Health officials in Santa Clara County reported a case of so-called community spread late Friday afternoon — the second in the northern part of the state in the past few days.


Later on Friday health officials in Oregon reported diagnosing a case of Covid-19 — the disease the virus causes — in a person from Washington County who had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating nor close contact with a confirmed case.

And a teenager from Snohomish County, north of Seattle, was diagnosed with the disease, Washington State health authorities announced late Friday. This individual had not traveled outside the country nor had contact with a known Covid-19 case, they said.

These cases raise the specter that the virus may be spreading stealthily  in the Pacific Northwest region of the country.


The discovery that the virus may be spreading in the country should not come as a surprise, said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy.

“It just tells us where there is testing, there are cases. … There is no such thing as a barrier containment to keep these out.”

Michael Osterholm. University of Minnesota

“It just tells us where there is testing, there are cases. And that’s what we have to understand,” Osterholm said. “There is no such thing as a barrier containment to keep these out. It’s going to happen. And what we have to do now is get on with how we’re going to deal with them.”

Health officials in Oregon said the infected individual there had spent time in a school in the Lake Oswego school district and may have exposed students and staff there. An investigation is underway and employees and families of children are being contacted, a press release from the state said.

The findings come as more and more states are starting to test for the virus. Many state and local laboratories have been unable to test for the virus until recent days, because of a problem with a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Friday, the World Health Organization reported that there were more than 82,000 cases worldwide, from 46 countries. While most of the cases are still from China, cases elsewhere are on the rise.

The new California patient is a 65-year-old with chronic conditions who had not recently traveled outside the country and who had had no known contact with a confirmed case, health officials in Santa Clara County said.

“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear,” Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County said. “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.”

Cody said individuals need to start practicing good hand hygiene and learn to stop touching their faces — people can infect themselves if they pick up viruses off a contaminated surface, then put a finger in their mouth or rub their eyes or nose.

Families should start working on emergency planning, and schools should make plans for dealing with high levels of absenteeism, she said, adding businesses should be thinking about allowing employees to telecommute, if needed.

Santa Clara is about 90 miles from Solano County, where earlier this week the first known case of a person who was infected in the community lives. The first case, a woman, is reportedly seriously ill and on a ventilator.

Cody said an infectious diseases physician contacted the health department Wednesday about a patient she was treating. The doctor was concerned the individual might have Covid-19 and wanted to submit a sample to be tested. That was done Thursday and an investigation into the individual’s possible source of infection began Thursday evening.

The United States has reported more than 60 cases at this point. The bulk of the cases, 47, are people who were evacuated from China or from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. There have been 15 previous cases in people who contracted the virus overseas, and three cases where people were infected in the United States. Two of those were spouses of travelers infected abroad.

Problems with a coronavirus test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have meant that little testing for the new virus has been done in the U.S.

Worried infectious diseases experts have warned that the lack of apparent cases in the country cannot be taken as a sign the virus isn’t spreading, undetected in some places. And CDC officials have been trying to prepare the public for the likelihood that there will be some transmission of the virus in the United States.


  • Im not sure how the government is going to control the spread. The ss are mild for some so they do not even realize they r spreading it. China is going as far as welding apartment door closed so people can’t leave and it is still spreading. The government needs to focus on resources and how to treat the 20% that will need direct intervention.
    FYI I get the honor of living in the epicenter for community transmission. CDC is going to be in town tomorrow to sort things out. 2 positives and 50 others developing pneumonia in a long term nursing facility. Here we go…

    • I understand that one medium for transmission of the C19 virus is on water or saliva droplets, and it has be suggested that the range for these is only a metre or so, is it possible that vaping droplets could also be a medium for transmitting the virus and if so could it transmit at a longer range. Your response is appreciated.

      Peter – none vaping 62yr old caucasian male, NZ

  • I think communities need to be very careful about promoting fear and anger. We don’t know the details of the WA resident who died–their age, did they have chronic health problems, what kind of care did they have over the past weeks, etc.
    It is not feasible nor reasonable to test every person who has a cough nor every person who has come in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
    In the Everett school district a high school student has presumably tested positive for COVID-19 and parents are in an utter state of panic and fear. Meanwhile many of those parents’ high school students are doing drugs, drinking, smoking pot, vaping, having sex, etc and engaging in other unhealthy elicit behaviors.

    • Most moronic comment of the week (month?). Dead is a 19-year old male. Died quickly (cytokine storm?). Fatality rate probably 3-5%. So, yeah, let’s worry about vaping and teen sex! This kind of stupid comment make me so mad.

    • Adam, my point is that teens today are more at risk from behaviors I mentioned, for example–

      The American Cancer Society strongly recommends that children, teens, and young adults never begin using e-cigarettes or start vaping in any form. The aerosol (vapor) from an e-cigarette can contain substances that are addictive and can cause lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is very addictive and can harm the brain development of teenagers.

      Adolescents ages 15-24 account for nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year.1 Today, two in five sexually active teen girls have had an STD that can cause infertility and even death.2 Also, though rates of HIV are very low among adolescents, males make up more than 80 percent of HIV diagnoses among 13- to 19-year-olds.3 STDs often have no obvious sign or physical symptom, so regular screenings are critical.4 The most effective way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity (source: dept of health and human services)
      If a teen acquires COVID-19 it is likely their health response will be mild unless they have pre-existing health issues, they are a smoker/vaper, they have unhealthy eating habits, they don’t take care of themselves when symptoms first appear etc.

      The fatality rate among those who contract COVID-19 is *not* 3-5%. Please don’t spread false information.

    • I couldn’t agree more with Adam. It just goes to show how even the most basic of statistics allows for such a moronic reply. What does teen sex have to do with a deadly virus. Those parents you mock, have a right to be very worried about the health of their child. And, Adam is also right, that the death rate (so far) is hovering around the 3% mark. If you take all of the people in the United States who have underlying health risks, that could be a pretty scary number. My guess is your feelings are going to change in the coming months.

    • I agree with your comment about fear, and that it’s incredibly important to not spreed misinformation or fear monger. But your point about students engaging in incredibly low risk activity (under aged sex, vaping, smoking pot, ect) being a bigger deal then a virus that spreed incredibly fast and has a ~3% mortality rate is misguided to put it lightly.

  • Finally FDA authorized American laboratory to develop their own test kits. This should have been done long time ago instead of letting CDC do what they can’t do, from what it seems.

    This shows how government bureaucracy can be very harmful.

    There is one reported dead is Seattle today. If that is the unknown origin case that only got recently tested because of strict CDC rule and shortage of test kit, the CDC ineptitude had already cause a life. And it will probably cause more life.

    CDC is in charge of the Gilead Reemdevisir trial. Maybe this should be handed to another group seeing how badly the CDC handle the test kit and testing qualification and rules.

    • I get what you are saying but they have had their funding continuously cut and the US has built its economy on disposable income. Now when drastic action is needed, you can tell that the leadership at the moment is trying to balance economy and an appropriate response.

      I don’t blame the CDC for doing what they’ve done for the nation on state like budgets because our leadership didn’t believe in being prepared and it’s a struggle to get the common citizen to embrace science, let alone the dangers of microscopic things.

  • Silicon Valley/Bay Area/Sacramento/Reno is a potential Hubei. I live in this region, and I see zero attempt to slow transmission in terms of social distancing. There are just a few Paul Revere’s, and we’re treated as if certifiably insane.

  • Why doesn’t Trump admit there’s a situation as say…we have a problem so lets pull our resources together and get this under control. Instead he sugar coats it by saying it’s all good and will go away by April. The sad thing is is that his followers believe him

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