CDC Denies Delaying Testing of California Coronavirus Patient; Over 100 CA Hospital Workers in Home Quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is denying the accusation in an email by a California hospital that it delayed testing of a patient suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.
The allegation was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, “UPDATE: Patient being treated for coronavirus in Sacramento came to hospital last week but was not tested by CDC, despite requests from local health officials, according to UC Davis Medical Center email.”
UPDATE: Patient being treated for coronavirus in Sacramento came to hospital last week but was not tested by CDC, despite requests from local health officials, according to UC Davis Medical Center email.https://t.co/u9WDtGndOG
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) February 27, 2020
The accusation inflamed an already nervous population about how the government under the Trump administration is handling the coronavirus with some seeing Trump administration incompetence and others seeing anti-Trump actors in government hurting the response in order to hinder Trump’s reelection this year.
On Friday, CDC official Dr. Nancy Messonnier told a press conference that the CDC did not receive a request to test the patient until last Sunday and then promptly authorized the testing, reported the Sacramento Bee:
But federal officials pushed back at a press conference Friday, saying that they first heard about the patient on Sunday and approved the testing that day. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said her clinical team has not declined any request for testing.
“CDC first heard about this case from public health colleagues in California last Sunday, Feb. 23,” she said. “California reported a severely ill person who had not traveled abroad or had contact with (infected people). CDC recommended testing for COVID-19 that day. We received samples on Feb. 25 and confirmed the results … on Feb. 26.”
Messonnier also contradicted comments from officials in Sacramento that the case is the first known domestic instance of infection by the new virus. “It is possible the patient had exposure to contact with a returned traveler who was infected,” they noted. CDC officials nonetheless said they have broadened their protocols for tests, and are stepping up efforts and testing in California.
Messonnier said the criteria has been “evolving to meet the needs of this existing condition.” She said her clinical team “has not said no to any request for testing.” But she acknowledged that the federal government’s efforts to launch testing in affected areas “has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked.” She said the CDC testing procedures have been upgraded, and soon will increase testing capacity around the country with new test kits.
The Bee report also notes that a large number of staff members at three area hospitals were put under home quarantine as a result of exposure to this patient and others, with a few of them showing signs of illness.
One hundred or more employees of three Northern California hospitals have been exposed in recent weeks to coronavirus and asked to stay at home pending tests to determine whether the contracted the virus, according to two Sacramento-area government officials.
Solano County officials on Friday said 93 NorthBay VacaValley Hospital workers have been identified as having come into contact with the woman when she was a patient there. Of those, 82 are not showing any symptoms, but are in quarantine. Another 11 are exhibiting some symptoms of illness, and have been tested. Those results are expected in the next day or two. Those workers are in home isolation.
CNN reported Saturday that about 124 hospital worker are on home isolation, according a nurses union:
About 124 health care workers — including at least 36 nurses — are under self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus patient admitted to UC Davis Medical Center last week, a nurse union said.
“Despite University of California medical facilities being generally better prepared and equipped to treat challenging medical cases, the recent UC Davis Medical Center COVID-19 case highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s hospitals to this virus and the insufficiency of current Centers for Disease Control guidelines,” the National Nurses United said in a news release Friday.
A spokesman at UC Davis Health told CNN they did not have a comment.
The effort to contain the coronavirus is driven in part by the cascading toll an outbreak will take on the nation’s healthcare system. These 100 or more hospital staffers are now out for two weeks or more and unable to take care of other patients. And if they test positive for the virus then their contacts will go under home quarantine. And on it will go.