Local spread of coronavirus marks turning point in U.S.

Local spread of coronavirus marks turning point in U.S., by Steve Gorman.

U.S. public health officials have identified four “presumptive” coronavirus cases believed to have emerged from community transmission of the infection, signaling a turning point in strategies needed to contain the disease in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement late on Friday citing three cases of unknown origin newly diagnosed by state public health authorities – one each in California, Oregon and Washington state.

If confirmed by the CDC, along with a similar case of unknown origin announced on Wednesday in California, that would bring to four the number of diagnosed individuals in the United States with no history of travel to a country where the virus is circulating and no close contact with an infected person. …

What to do:

Individuals should be more vigilant about basic hygiene measures, such as washing hands often, avoiding touching their faces, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home from school or work whenever ill, [Dr. Sara Cody, chief public health officer for Santa Clara County] said. …

Coronavirus is spread primarily through tiny droplets coughed or sneezed directly from an infected person into the face of someone nearby, as opposed to the more contagious “airborne” transmission of a virus like measles, which can remain suspended in enclosed spaces and be breathed in hours after being exhaled by sick individuals, expert says.

Coronavirus can also survive on surfaces, such as handrails and door knobs, for “a very long period of time,” and be picked up by hand that way, though the virus is “very susceptible” to cleaning products, Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said on Friday in Santa Clara County.