CDC Confirms First U.S. Human Transmission of Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

The Center for Disease Control on Thursday confirmed the first U.S. case of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus involving a Chicago woman who gave the deadly virus to her husband.

“This person-to-person spread was between two very close contacts, a wife and husband,” Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said. “It is not spreading in the wider community.”

The new case is the sixth confirmed in the U.S., but the first instance involving someone who had not recently traveled to Wuhan, China where the disease originated. The number of confirmed cases worldwide is approximately 8,000, and at least 170 people have died, all in China.

The Chinese have quarantined the city of Wuhan, where the virus first sprang up, in an effort to limit its transmission. Coronavirus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a virus that originated in China and killed hundreds of people in 2002 and 2003.

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On Tuesday night, the State Department chartered a flight from China to evacuate 210 U.S. citizens, including diplomats and their families. After leaving Wuhan, the flight touched down in Alaska, where everyone was medically screened and cleared to continue on to California.

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who along with Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) has called for a Chinese travel ban, said Thursday that the Chinese were not admitting the seriousness of the outbreak.

“There was a 28% increase in coronavirus cases overnight in China,” Cotton tweeted. “Make no mistake, though: these aren’t ‘new’ cases. Just what China is willing to admit. It’s much worse.”

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