High school student in Washington latest coronavirus community spread victim

(SEATTLE) —  A high school student in the state of Washington is the latest U.S. resident to preliminarily test positive for the coronavirus and is part of a growing group of victims that were diagnosed with COVID-19 due to community spread.

Health officials in Snohomish County, Washington, said the student became ill Monday with a fever, body aches and a headache. He was seen at two different clinics in the county, however, as the student felt better, he attempted to return to Jackson High School on Friday.

Coronavirus test results for the student, officials said, then came back “presumptive positive,” and the student returned home before attending class.

“The individual is currently in home isolation and is doing well,” Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said at a press conference Friday.

Spitters said the student did not travel to areas associated with coronavirus outbreaks, nor did they have known contact with someone diagnosed with the virus. This means the student is the fourth known U.S. case of community spread, which means a person who is diagnosed with a virus without having known contact with an area or person associated with the virus.

The school district, health officials said, has notified students and staff that may have had close contact with the infected student. Most of them will be quarantined at home for 14 days and the school will be sanitized over the weekend and be closed on Monday.

The student was the second person in the state diagnosed with COVID-19 Friday. A woman in her 50s returned from traveling in Daegu, South Korea, on Sunday, Feb. 23. She returned to work on Tuesday, where she had symptoms by the end of the day, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health Seattle & King County.

A majority of the more than 2,300 positive coronavirus cases in South Korea have been linked to a secretive religious sect in the city of Daegu.

Duchin said the woman’s COVID-19 test results came back positive on Thursday.

“Given the extent of global spread, we expect to identify more individuals with COVID-19 in Washington,” Washington state Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a statement Friday.

The coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency, has led to 2,924 deaths, among more than 85,000 cases globally.

Oregon school employee on Friday was diagnosed with a case of coronavirus with an unknown origin. That person joined two others in California who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 through community spread this week.

In the U.S., there are 66 patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, most of which are from those repatriated from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked off the coast of Japan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 62 confirmed cases; four “unconfirmed” patients tested positive in their states and those results need to be confirmed by the CDC before being included in its numbers.

In California, the city of Costa Mesa won a battle against the federal government Friday night when it withdrew its request to transfer infected coronavirus patients from the Diamond Princess to a quarantine facility in the town.

“This is a victory for the citizens of Costa Mesa and Orange County,” Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement Friday night. “But the government has not promised not to place future infected persons there, so the battle is not over.”

Without much warning, and no input, last week, the city said it learned people with COVID-19 would be transferred to a soon to be designated quarantine facility. It quickly filed suit to halt the transfers.

“We continue to be troubled by the lack of information from the agencies we all need to trust to keep us safe,” Foley said. “While the risk of infection is low, this is an international public health emergency and we need answers.”

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