Contagious Disease Current Events

COVID-19 comes to California

On the night of Donald Trump’s first major speech on the corronavirus called COVID-19, California announced the first person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in the US. The L.A. Times reports:

It is not clear how the person became infected, but public health workers could not identify any contacts with people who had traveled to China or other areas where the virus is widespread. That raises concern that the virus is spreading in the United States, creating a challenge for public health officials, experts say.

“It’s the first signal that we could be having silent transmission in the community,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. “It probably means there are many more cases out there, and it probably means this individual has infected others, and now it’s a race to try to find out who that person has infected.”

KQED reports on the number of COVID-19 cases that have already occurred in California.

There are 10 cases of  COVID-19 confirmed in California, according to the California Department of Public Health…”California has a limited number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and we don’t have indication of it spreading widely in our communities at this time,” according to the department’s website…There are 59 cases in the United States, according to the CDC, 36 of which originated on the Diamond Princess cruise ship after it docked in Japan. Those patients are isolated in hospitals.

While these numbers are fairly small, globally the numbers are large.

More than 82,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported globally, and more than 2,700 people have died, with the majority in mainland China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Yet there is some positive news:

“While COVID-19 has a high transmission rate, it has a low mortality rate,” the state Department of Public Health said in a statement Wednesday. “From the international data we have, of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 80% do not exhibit symptoms that would require hospitalization. There have been no confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States to date.”

President Trump claimed that a vaccine for COVID-19 is developing nicely. NBC News, however, reports that this is a bit of an exaggeration.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in the same news conference that a potential vaccine is in rapid development but that a final product is at least a year to 18 months away — if trials that are happening now succeed. This is fast for a vaccine, but it’s not going to help anyone imminently.

In short, at this point, one should be cautious of, but not necessarily scared of COVID-19. As the old saying goes, however, ‘better safe than sorry’.

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