CDC Announces First US Case of Coronavirus


A case of the virus that reportedly originated in Wuhan City, China has been confirmed in Washington State.

Officials from the CDC have announced the first case of a novel coronavirus on United States soil. A case of the virus that reportedly originated in Wuhan City, China has been confirmed in Washington State.1

The CDC has been monitoring an outbreak of the virus in Wuhan City. Officials with the agency said it the virus has so far resulted in 200 confirmed human infections, and 3 reported deaths in the region. Exported cases also have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, causing a number of countries to begin screening incoming travelers.2

In the United States, entry screening at major airports has been implemented, and the CDC decided to move into a 100% coverage strategy over the weekend. With this strategy, they instructed the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation to begin re-routing passengers from Wuhan City to major airports, thereby guaranteeing that they will be screened.1

The traveler in Washington State arrived in Seattle on January 15, and he reached out to providers the following day, according to the CDC, during a press briefing on Tuesday. The current priority for the CDC is establishing his flight and seat numbers in order to screen those who had contact with him. Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier, MD, added that the man’s arrival in Seattle preceded implementation of airport screenings.1

According to the CDC, some coronaviruses cause illness in humans while others circulate among animals, and a few evolve to spread between humans. Examples of this spread have been seen in previous MERS and SARS outbreaks, which have required comprehensive public health responses.2

Officials with the CDC noted that many of those infected in China have reportedly been linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Limited person-to-person spread may also be occurring, however.2

Investigations into the virus are ongoing. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment, and there is limited information available to characterize the spectrum of clinical illness associated with the virus.2

Current criteria for evaluation of patients include fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness combined with a history of travel from Wuhan City within the last 14 days, or close contact with a person who is under investigation for the virus.3

“There is some new information hour by hour, day by day, that we are tackling and following closely,” said Messonnier.1

CDC staff are working with authorities in China and Thailand to improve knowledge about the virus. According to the CDC press briefing, the key issue at the moment is understanding how easily or sustainably the virus is spread.1

“We as the global health community are really working together to understand this situation,” Messonnier said.1


  • CDC Telebriefing: Update on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) [news briefing]. Washington, DC; Jan 21, 2020.
  • 2019 Novel Coronativus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan, China. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Jan 21, 2020.
  • 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China: Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Jan 21, 2020.

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