CDC investigating reported delay in COVID-19 test for California patient
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it is concerned about reports that there was a delay caused by the federal agency in testing a California coronavirus patient who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, in what may be the first case of community spread in the United States.
The CDC says it is investigating carefully, but a preliminary review of its records indicates the first time the centers were informed of the case was Sunday, and samples were ordered for testing that same day.
Two top officials with UC Davis Health said in a memo to staff Wednesday that after the patient was transferred to its Sacramento medical center on Feb. 19, "our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19. We requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC."
"Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process," the memo stated. It said the CDC ordered testing for the patient on Sunday and on Wednesday the positive test was confirmed.
The case could be the first person-to-person transmission among the general public in the United States involving a person not believed to have been exposed to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected person.
The "CDC is concerned about reports that testing for COVID-19 for the California patient announced on February 26 was delayed as a result of CDC," CDC press officer Richard Quartarone said Thursday in an email.
"We are investigating this carefully, however, a preliminary review of CDC records indicates that CDC was first informed about this case on Sunday, February 23," Quartarone said.
He said that the federal agency requested samples that day from the patient in order to test for COVID-19 and that samples were sent via courier on Monday and received Tuesday. "Test results were confirmed and communicated on Wednesday, February 26," Quartarone said.
A spokesman for UC Davis Health said no information would be released beyond Wednesday's memo.
Quartarone also said that under CDC guidelines, testing is allowed for patients who do not meet the specific criteria for testing if clinical suspicion of COVID-19 is high. He said that the situation is "rapidly evolving" and that CDC guidance is being regularly reviewed and updated.
Outbreak spread sparks fears for American travelers
Some Americans thinking about vacations this spring and summer are reconsidering their travel plans as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world.
More than 81,000 cases have been reported in at least 40 countries, leaving some travelers concerned as the virus continues to spread.
Summer Mutz, 23, of new Jersey and been looking forward to a dream trip to Europe, where she would see the sights in Rome, Vienna and Paris.
"It’s hard and I have a feeling I’m going to end up going because I’ve been dreaming of getting to Europe for years, and now I’m torn," she said. "Coronavirus is a big, scary thing. Right now it’s fear versus dreams."
After going back and forth on whether to cancel, she recently decided she would save her European vacation for another time when things were less uncertain.
Read more on how coronavirus is affecting travelers and the travel industry.
The new coronavirus hasn't mutated much — what does that tell scientists?
Scientists working to contain the spread of the new coronavirus have noticed something curious about the newly identified pathogen — it hasn't mutated much.
Genetic analyses have shown that the coronavirus has not undergone many significant changes since it first emerged in China in December, according to Timothy Sheahan, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.
It's an important detail because that stability suggests why the new coronavirus is effective at moving from person to person.
“Viruses are into efficiency, and if you have a virus that spills over into the human population and isn’t that good at replicating in a person or human-to-human transmission, it may just die out,” he said.
Health officials go into detective mode after new California case
A California patient who appears to be America's first case of a coronavirus transmission of unknown origin has prompted two major questions: How was she exposed to the virus, and who else might have it?
California public health officials on Thursday said they are trying to find those answers through contact tracing, a process that entails tracking down anyone in recent weeks who might have had contact with the patient, a woman whose identity they are not revealing.
Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the state's Department of Public Health, said at a news conference that since Wednesday — when the test came back positive for the coronavirus — local, state and federal health officials have been "contacting any individuals who might have been exposed, and they're isolating them."
Read more about how health officials are working to track down the source of the infection.
Dow plunges nearly 1,200 points as coronavirus fears send markets diving
Wall Street suffered brutal losses on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average swinging wildly through more than 1,000 points before closing with a loss of 1,200 points for the worst week since the financial crisis.
The Dow has now lost more than 3,200 points this week, or 10 percent, including a decline of 1,031 points on Tuesday and 879 points on Wednesday.
The S&P 500 fell by 4.4 percent and the Nasdaq Composite was down by around 4.6 percent. Transport-related stocks, tech stocks, and the energy sector all took the heaviest hits, as fears spread that the coronavirus epidemic would strangle global movement.
Read more here.
U.S. could see some empty shelves by mid-April if coronavirus epidemic worsens
Coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic, temporarily emptying retail store shelves in the coming months and depressing some consumer-facing businesses, experts say, with government officials advising families to take measured steps to stock up on certain essentials.
A pandemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large amount of people in a short period of time across international boundaries.
Ahead of any pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says families should check their prescription drug supplies, store two weeks supply of water and food, and have non-prescription drugs and health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, and fluids with electrolytes.
Read the full story here.
U.S. companies will see zero growth this year because of coronavirus, Goldman Sachs says
Earnings growth for U.S. companies will be stagnant in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus, according to Goldman Sachs.
The Wall Street firm revised its earnings estimate for the year to $165 per share from $174 per share, representing 0 percent growth in 2020. That is a dramatic move from the consensus. Forecasts still expect earnings to climb 7 percent this year.
Read the full story here.
Tim Cook says some China factories reopening
Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday he is “optimistic” about China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, noting that his company has ramped up production as factories in the country have come back online.
"It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control," Cook told Fox Business Network in an interview from Alabama, his home state. "You look at the numbers, they're coming down day by day by day. And so I'm very optimistic there."
"When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories were able to work through the conditions to open, they're reopening," Cook said. "They're also in ramp. So I think of this as sort of the third phase in getting back to normal, and we're in phase three of the ramp mode."
Apple warned last week that it would not meet its guidance for the next quarter due to the epidemic. The trillion-dollar company has seen billions wiped off its value since the outbreak of the virus. Twenty percent of Apple’s iPhone sales come from China, and 50 percent of the product build happens there.
Facebook has canceled its yearly F8 developer conference, one of the company's signature events.
“This was a tough call to make -- F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world -- but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Facebook's director of platform partnerships, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, wrote in a blog post.
Papamiltiadis wrote that the company is planning to host a series of local events and livestreams in place of the event.