Second Case of Coronavirus Identified in the U.S.: 'We Are Expecting More'

The CDC is currently monitoring 63 people nationwide who may have the virus, after confirming two cases in Washington and Illinois

People wearing mask are seen riding the MTR train on January 22, 2019 in Hong Kong, China
Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty

A second U.S. case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a woman in Illinois, as China attempts to slow the rapid outbreak worldwide.

The Centers for Disease Control said during a press conference Friday morning that a woman in her 60s had traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus, in late December. She returned to her home in Chicago on Jan. 13 but did not start experiencing symptoms for several days.

After going to the doctor and getting tested for coronavirus, she was moved to infection control at an unnamed hospital. Illinois health officials say that she is “clinically doing well” and is in stable condition. They said she is primarily staying in the hospital “for virus control.”

This is the second U.S. resident to have a confirmed case of coronavirus. The first, a man in Washington state, had also recently returned from Wuhan.

The CDC says they are currently monitoring 63 other Americans who may have coronavirus in 22 different states, though they declined to name which states.

“This is a rapidly changing situation both abroad and domestically, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control. “We are expecting more cases in the U.S., and we are likely to see some cases among close contacts of patients from human to human transmission.”

A man wears a mask while walking in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China

Messonnier added that this coronavirus is still largely mysterious. Officials have not determined the cause (though a recent study pointed to a species of snake present in Wuhan), the incubation period or a direct treatment plan.

“We must remember that this virus has only been identified in the last month, and there is much we don’t know yet,” she said.

Still, the CDC says that the public health risk is “low.”

“While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, the CDC believes that the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly,” Messionnier said.

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As of Friday, 26 people in China have died from the coronavirus, while 830 people have been infected, officials said. Initially, the majority of people who had died were older than 60 with preexisting conditions. However, a young, previously healthly man has died in Wuhan, according to The Washington Post, leading to questions about the severity of the virus.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials are effectively quarantining 35 million citizens in Wuhan and neighboring areas. They have shut down railroads and roadways and grounded all flights in or out of Wuhan.

This coincides with the Chinese Lunar New Year, the largest holiday celebration in the world. Cities across China have canceled fireworks and festivals, and major tourist attractions such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace and Shanghai Disneyland are closing.

In Wuhan, crews are working on building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat coronavirus patients with a short timeline — the goal is to have it ready by Feb. 3.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said the hospital is needed “to address the insufficiency of existing medical resources,” according to the Post.

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