Well-Being Prevention & Cures

CDC official says more coronavirus cases may come from unknown sources

coronavirus COVID-19 community spread virus Wuhan spread testing begin five states six cities CDC Nancy Messonnier reporter phone call
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Story at a glance

  • CDC official Dr. Nancy Messonnier confirmed that more cases are likely to arise in the U.S., similar to other countries.
  • The CDC is still working with local health care facilities to administer more tests.

In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, confirmed her initial prediction that there will be more coronavirus cases in the U.S., and likely from a mix of contact and community spread, as well as potentially from unknown sources.

“What is happening now in the U.S. may be the beginning of what is happening abroad,” she told reporters via a telephone call. 

Messonnier took time to confirm the current total U.S. case count of 60 patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. She said that these data represent both confirmed and presumptive cases recorded by the CDC, including the likely outbreak occurring in a Washington state nursing home, as well as new cases found in Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire and New York, among other states.  

Out of all of the 60 cases confirmed, Messonnier stated that 22 cases are travel related, 27 are currently under CDC investigation and the remaining 11 are likely from person-to-person contact.

While the CDC will update its tally of confirmed cases in the U.S. at noon on a daily basis, Messonnier said anytime after 5 p.m., EST, is when state counts can become more accurate. Any new cases discovered at that time will be included in the official tally the following day. 

Messonnier said the CDC and partner health care institutions are still taking aggressive containment measures. 

With cases spanning both coasts, Messonnier confirmed that those at greatest risk are among “those in close contact [with COVID-19 patients], including family members and health care workers.” 

Data coming from China indicates that there is a ratio of one serious case of COVID-19 to 16 more preventive cases. Messonnier further said that individuals with underlying or preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or lung diseases, are approximately twice as likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19. 

More test kits are expected to ship out to California in particular, according to Messonnier. She said the CDC is confident that the updated tests won’t be contaminated or inaccurate. She also confirmed that other test kits, likely developed in state labs, will be available pending FDA approval.