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San Diego County Confirms First Presumptive Coronavirus Case, UCSD Moves Classes Online

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San Diego County health officials on Monday confirmed the county's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in a local resident.

Speaker 1: 00:00 County health officials say a woman who tested positive for Corona virus in San Diego last night is hospitalized and doing well. The unidentified patient is the first person to test positive in the County while not in quarantine on a military base official, say the woman is in her 50s and recently traveled abroad. Here's Dr. Eric McDonald with San Diego County health and human services.

Speaker 2: 00:23 The general public has no change in their very low risk here in San Diego because this is clearly a travel related case.

Speaker 1: 00:31 County officials have not revealed where the patient traveled, but Scripps green hospital has announced the patient is at their facility. Joining me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who's been following the Corona virus story in San Diego and Matt, welcome. What else do we know about this Corona virus patient?

Speaker 2: 00:49 Right, so obviously we know that she did travel internationally and we do know that she traveled overseas. Now officials aren't telling us where exactly that happened, but we know that it wasn't from one of the high risk areas, so we're talking like Italy or China. It wasn't from one of those countries that seeing a, an incredibly high number of cases. Um, we also know that, uh, after she had her international travel, she had fever and she had some respiratory problems and she ended up going to the hospital by herself and then that hospital ended up contacting the County. They made the decision to test. And then last night, obviously we got the results. The first positive case here in San Diego

Speaker 1: 01:21 was the woman in any kind of self quarantine since her trip.

Speaker 2: 01:25 She was not in self quarantine and basically there's explanation we got from County health services. Was that because she didn't go to one of these high risk identified countries, uh, she wasn't mandated to have this, um, you know, self quarantine at our house. Uh, they say they're talking with CDC and they said, just give them some time. So maybe they're going to be updating some of those guidelines in terms of high risk countries.

Speaker 1: 01:44 Right. What is, what is the County doing then to isolate and test people? The patient may have been in contact with it,

Speaker 2: 01:50 right. We know from County health officials that uh, she had a contact inside her home. That's someone who's under under investigation and then also a number of healthcare workers at the hospital where she was, cause she was admitted with these problems but they didn't know that she had the Corona virus, um, until they did some more tests on it till they requested the test here in San Diego County. Um, yeah, so they are monitoring a handful of individuals who this woman may have exposed.

Speaker 1: 02:12 We've heard about a few other people testing positive in San Diego hospitals. Why is this considered the first case in the County?

Speaker 2: 02:20 It's the first resident in the County. Uh, yeah. If you remember last month in February we had about 230 people from Mohan China evacuated from the epicenter of where that coronavirus coven 19 outbreak is. Um, and obviously from that batch we had two people test positive. Now those were not San Diego residents. So the County is sort of claiming this one as their own, if you will. I'm saying this is our first case. Obviously, we did have a, just I believe last week, um, that 18 T worker who lives in orange County but works down here in the South Bay and San Diego County. Uh, they did test positive, but that's an orange County case. They're calling it. So this is the first San Diego County resident, this woman in her 50s to test positive.

Speaker 1: 02:58 Now results of the testing

Speaker 2: 03:00 on this woman in the hospital are being called probable for Corona virus. What has to happen before the testing results are confirmed? Right? So basically the County lab, now that it has the Corona virus testing capability, even though they get a positive test, they have to send it to the CDC sorta for double confirmation. Uh, but I will say though, even though it's called a presumed probable case, County health officials are acting like this is an actual case. Like they're not saying like, Oh, this might not be a case. They're saying, no, this is probably a case. Uh, it's just sort of like a kind of a formality that they have to send it to the CDC for double testing. Uh, we do know that, uh, the County has a little bit less than a thousand testing kits available on hand right now. Um, and they told us yesterday that they're expecting to get within the week, uh, another thousand.

Speaker 2: 03:41 So they're asking people to be sort of do justice here as they, you know, think, Hey, I might be sick. Do I have the coronavirus? Um, they have to have these, you know, travel histories to places where the coronaviruses widespread or have contact with somebody who may have been to one of those areas. And that's a conversation that happens between the County, the person's healthcare provider and that person. And even the CDC as well too. So they don't want to just give a test out to anybody in the County. Last night, they really tried to be transparent. I mean, they called this news conference with like less than an hour's notice to the media. And really they said basically they tested that woman earlier in the day. They got the results in the afternoon and they called that news conference just a couple of hours after they got the results. So really the County of health officials here are trying to be transparent. What everyone know what's going on.

Speaker 1: 04:20 Now, yesterday we talked to you about the grand princess cruise ship passengers who were disembarking and eventually headed for the Miramar days. Do we know if they've arrived at the base yet?

Speaker 2: 04:31 Uh, as of right now, they are not at the base. Uh, we know that the earliest they could come would be today, but that would likely be later in the evening, maybe night if they did. Uh, but more than likely it sounds like that this is going to be happening tomorrow and we're talking, we don't know exactly how many people are going to be coming. It, I mean, we do know that it's a split of a little less than a thousand Californians, uh, between Travis and Miramar. And we know that Miramar base officials tell us they have the capacity for 300 rooms. And as we talked about yesterday, 300 rooms could mean, you know, four people per room, two people per room, spouses, family. So, uh, they could hold quite a bit of people at Miramar. And, uh, we should, I mean, I, I've been told that federal health officials are just trying to, uh, split up people based on region. So people who live in Northern California or central California will go to Travis. People who live in Southern California will come to Miramar.

Speaker 1: 05:16 Another new development is that UC San Diego has decided to hold spring semester entirely online now, any other schools in the County doing something like that,

Speaker 2: 05:27 right? UC San Diego, the first large institution in the County to make such a, a big announcement that they're moving their classes online. And we also know that, uh, there are some reports that the CSU system is considering closing some schools in California, uh, so that they can kind of take a break and say, Hey, let's look at this Corona virus, this coven 19 outbreak, and see what we need to do. Does that mean going online? Does that mean canceling classes? What does that mean?

Speaker 1: 05:48 Now, the San Diego County health and human services officials are giving a presentation about Corona virus to the board of supervisors today. What are expected to cover

Speaker 2: 05:58 in their talk? Well one, they're going to be extending that, uh, emergency declaration here in San Diego. And basically that emergency declaration, uh, gives them, uh, powers for like reimbursement for supplies, masks and other things. But it also gives them some like administrative leeway where like, you know, say that this outbreak really starts ramping up in San Diego. Um, instead of going to the board and saying, Hey, we need to hire out of state nurses. Hey, we need to buy this. Um, this emergency declaration gives them powers to just say, Hey, we're gonna hire these nurses, we're going to buy these supplies. We need them. They can bypass the County board of supervisors. Um, today they're expected to just give them an update on that. Obviously they're going to be voting, uh, to extend it another 30 days. Uh, but they're also telling them that they're monitoring, you know, a large number of people here in the County.

Speaker 2: 06:37 As of yesterday, we do know that the County is monitoring or has monitored to date about 464 people, about 82 people are still being actively monitored under self quarantine within the County. Um, and they'll also be telling them like how many people they're testing, how many testing kits they have. Like we said, about a thousand on hand right now. Uh, they've tested in total about 76 people. Obviously that one positive case, still about 20 cases. Pending results though, so we could have some more positive cases there. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Matt, thank you very much. Thanks, Maureen.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.