First coronavirus case in U.S. of unknown origin in California
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a person in northern California is infected with the coronavirus without traveling outside the United States or being in contact with another patient known to have the virus.
Health officials said it is a sign that the virus may be spreading locally. Officials said they have begun the process of tracking down people who have been in contact with the patient, a process known as contact tracing.
All previously known cases in the United States had traveled abroad or been in close contact with someone who had traveled abroad.
“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.
President Trump held an address on the virus and charged Vice President Mike Pence with heading the White House's coronavirus task force.
The president said the risk to Americans is “very low” and that people are being screened before coming into the country from infected areas.
"The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people," the president said to reporters.
Scientists may be making progress towards developing a vaccine for the virus. The National Institutes of Health announced that they will begin the first human trials for a potential vaccine in April.
U.S. biotech firm Moderna is also developing a coronavirus vaccine and have shipped an experimental drug to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases just 42 days after it began researching an immunization.