New California Coronavirus Case Could Be First In U.S. Not Linked To Travel Abroad: A person in California who was not exposed to anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus, and had not traveled to countries in which the virus is circulating, has tested positive for the infection. It may be the first case of community spread in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. The patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center from another hospital on Feb. 19. The staff requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC, but because the patient didn’t fit the CDC’s existing criteria for the virus, a test wasn’t immediately administered. “We have been anticipating the potential for such a case in the U.S., and given our close familial, social and business relationships with China, it is not unexpected that the first case in the U.S. would be in California," said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.
A "small number" of UC Davis employees have been asked to stay home and "monitor their temperature" due to possible exposure. The letter says hospital officials are requesting this "out of an abundance of caution" and "in order to assure the health and safety of our employees."
Read more from Soumya Karlamangla and Jaclyn Cosgrove of the Los Angeles Times; Cathie Anderson and Darrell Smith of the Sacramento Bee; Bob Moffitt and Randol White of Capital Public Radio; and Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times.
Newsom: California Is On High Alert To Handle Potential Outbreak: Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that California is on high alert and working closely with the federal government on the return of Americans from overseas. But in a state that has more people in quarantine than any other, many questions remain unanswered. Plans on where to house infected patients are not clear, local governments are declaring emergencies and at least one lawmaker said he’s getting “radio silence” from the governor’s administration. “This changes quite literally by the hour,” Newsom said. “As of last count, 31 people have been identified as having the coronavirus in the state of California and have gone through the repatriation process and are in various states of health.” Read more from Ana B. Ibarra of CalMatters.
Orange County Declares State Of Emergency So That It Can Ensure A ‘Nimble And Flexible’ Response: Orange County has declared a local health emergency in response to the novel coronavirus, which has killed thousands globally, officials announced Wednesday. The move is largely in response to a proposal to move coronavirus patients to a facility in Costa Mesa, which has sparked a bitter court battle, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel and Vice Chairman Andrew Do said at a news conference. Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said their declaration "expands our ability to respond in a nimble and flexible way" to the outbreak of the disease, now dubbed COVID-19. In particular, Quick said it gives the county the ability to request aid from neighboring counties, the state and the federal government if it runs short of funds. Read more from Colleen Shalby of the Los Angeles Times and Robert Garrova of LAist.
In more coronavirus and California coverage:
The San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area Hospitals Scramble To Prepare For Coronavirus; ‘When Are We Going To Get The Test Kits?’
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF’s Scott Wiener Wants To Fund Financial Rewards For Meth Addicts Who Stop Using Drugs
Facing a growing methamphetamine epidemic with few known treatments, a San Francisco state legislator wants to make public funding available for programs that provide financial incentives to participants to stop using drugs. Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener introduced SB888, which would expand the substance abuse treatment options that qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor, to include contingency management. These programs use vouchers or small cash prizes to motivate people to stay off drugs. (Koseff, 2/26)
Allakos Is Running Trials In Reverse, Critics Say, Raising Questions On Its Drug
Allakos (ALLK) is embroiled in a clinical trial controversy with potentially billions of dollars at stake. The San Francisco Bay Area biotech is using a Phase 1 clinical trial to collect safety and tolerability data on its lead digestive disease drug, called antolimab. The existence of this trial — which Allakos has not told investors about — raises questions about a promise already made to move antolimab into a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial before the end of March. (Feuerstein, 2/26)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Oakland Dental Surgeon Charged With Molesting Children, Child Pornography
An Oakland dental surgeon faces charges he molested two underage girls, attempted to kidnap a woman and filmed a young girl engaged in a sex act, according to a charging documents filed in Contra Costa County.Cassidy Migan Lavorini-Doyle, 36, faces seven felony counts after his arrest in December. Lavorini-Doyle is charged with human trafficking of a minor for a sex act when he tried to persuade two girls to engage in a commercial sex act. He is also accused of molesting both girls. (Gafni, 2/26)
The Wall Street Journal:
PG&E Judge Skeptical Of Most Government Wildfire Response Claims
The judge overseeing PG&E Corp.’s bankruptcy opened the door to reducing government agency claims against the troubled utility to $290 million, a fraction of the billions federal authorities say they are owed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services are seeking $3.9 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively, from San Francisco-based PG&E for services provided in the aftermath of three deadly wildfires linked to the utility’s equipment. (Biswas, 2/26)
The Associated Press:
Trump Urges Calm Even As US Reports Worrisome New Virus Case
President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that a widespread U.S. outbreak of the new respiratory virus sweeping the globe isn't inevitable even as top health authorities at his side warned Americans that more infections are coming. ... At a White House news conference, Trump sought to minimize fears as he insisted the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the COVID-19 outbreak brings. Under fire about the government's response, he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating the efforts. “This will end,” Trump said of the outbreak. “You don't want to see panic because there's no reason to be panicked.” (2/27)
The New York Times:
Trump Names Mike Pence To Lead Coronavirus Response
The president said he would accept whatever amount of money congressional Democrats wanted to give for the virus response, adding, “We’re ready to adapt and we’re ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads.” “We’ll spend whatever is appropriate,” he said. Several top health care experts at the news conference echoed Mr. Trump’s optimism but also offered a more sober assessment of the future risks. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the C.D.C., warned Americans that there would be more infections. (Shear, Weiland and Rogers, 2/26)
Coronavirus Gets A Trumpian Response
He cracked wise about his germaphobia, recounted a run-in with a sick friend using a stand-up comedian’s patter, waved around colorful graphs showing America’s superiority on virus containment and listed facts he had just learned about the flu. It was a performance that had kept White House staffers on edge all day, ever since the president unexpectedly tweeted his plans for a news conference after deplaning at sunrise from Air Force One. Just hours before his appearance was expected to begin, communications staffers were uncertain about how — or where — the news conference would take place, and whether the president or just the coronavirus task force would take questions. (Cook and McGraw, 2/26)
Los Angeles Times:
Trump, Seeking To Tamp Down Fears Of Coronavirus, Names Pence To Lead Response
Allies counseled Trump to put his political and economic frustrations aside to focus on the public health threat, arguing that ancillary problems will fix themselves once the public is convinced the administration is prepared for what may prove a significant crisis. “This is not a garden-variety routine event,” said Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, who saw his popularity plummet after a botched response to Hurricane Katrina’s battering of New Orleans in 2005. “This can grow into people being legitimately scared into wondering what to do to protect their health, to protect their family’s health.” (Bierman, Haberkorn and Levey, 2/26)
The Washington Post:
Vice President Pence, Criticized Over Handling Of Indiana HIV Outbreak, Will Lead U.S. Coronavirus Response
When President Trump announced that Vice President Pence would lead federal efforts against the spread of the coronavirus, he said the Pence was the right person for the task because of his experience. “He’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump said at a White House briefing about the virus, which has infected nearly five dozen people in the United States so far. The announcement has cast light on Pence’s record as a lawmaker and his handling of a major public health crisis during his time as governor of Indiana. The worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history happened on his watch in 2015, which critics blamed on Pence’s belated response and his opposition to authorizing a needle-exchange program. (Kornfield, 2/27)
Trump’s CDC Chief Faces Increasingly Harsh Scrutiny
Robert Redfield was a well-known AIDS researcher and favorite of Christian conservatives when President Donald Trump picked him to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018, where he has helped implement sweeping plans to fight HIV and opioids in the United States while pushing to tackle Ebola abroad. But confronted by the increasingly global coronavirus outbreak, CDC and Redfield’s actions are now under intense scrutiny — both inside and outside the administration. (Diamond, 2/26)
U.S. Isn’t Ready To Detect Stealth Coronavirus Spread
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t yet ready to detect whether the coronavirus is spreading across the country. Just 12 of more than 100 public health labs in the U.S. are currently able to diagnose the coronavirus because of problems with a test developed by the CDC, potentially slowing the response if the virus starts taking hold here. The faulty test has also delayed a plan to widely screen people with symptoms of respiratory illness who have tested negative for influenza to detect whether the coronavirus may be stealthily spreading. (Lim, 2/26)
The Washington Post:
How To Prepare For Coronavirus In The United States
There are the exam gloves, the surgical masks, the dubious supplements and the deceptive disinfectants. If unchecked Internet information is any guide, there’s an inexhaustible list of products you should buy to prepare for the spread of coronavirus in the United States — which, according to U.S. health officials, now appears inevitable. But here’s the thing: The virus may be novel, but you really don’t need to buy anything new or special to brace for it. The Washington Post spoke to epidemiology experts, and they said the most important aspect of preparedness costs nothing at all — calm. (Thebault and Horton, 2/26)
Gilead Starts Two Late-Stage Studies To Test Drug For Coronavirus
Gilead Sciences Inc said on Wednesday it has started two late-stage studies to test its drug in patients with severe and moderate cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus, sending its shares up 4% in extended trading. Beginning March, the studies will test the experimental antiviral drug, remdesivir, among nearly 1,000 patients at medical centers across Asian countries, as well as in other nations with high numbers of diagnosed cases, the company said. (2/26)