More Cases of Coronavirus with an Unknown Origin Reported in Washington and Oregon

Two more cases of coronavirus from an unknown origin have been reported in the United States, amid concerns that the disease is now spreading in the country through community transmission.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon and Washington have both announced their first possible instance of “community spread,” meaning the two patients who tested positive for coronavirus had not traveled to countries affected by the continued outbreak and the “source of infection is unknown.”

The announcement came after two patients in California became the first two cases in the U.S. of coronavirus in patients who had not recently traveled abroad.

According to KCPQ, the patient in Washington who contracted coronavirus from an unknown source is a high school student at Henry M. Jackson High School in Snohomish County. The outlet reported that the student is not seriously ill.

The Everett Public School District in Washington said in a statement on Facebook that the student is in quarantine, and the high school is closing on Monday to undergo “three full days of deep disinfecting” out of “an abundance of caution.”

The patient in Oregon is an employee at a school in the Portland area, according to USA Today.

The CDC added that the Washington and Oregon cases — as well as the second California case —  are being treated as “presumptive positive cases,” as they have not officially been confirmed as positive through CDC testing.

The first case of coronavirus from an unknown origin in California prompted the CDC to expand testing to anyone whom doctors suspect has the novel coronavirus, after the woman wasn’t tested for the virus for nearly a week after doctors expressed concerns that she had it.

Testing had previously been limited to people who had recently arrived back to the U.S. from China or had come into close contact with people who had already been diagnosed.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, spoke about the first California case in a press briefing on Friday.

“It’s possible this could be the first instance of community spread — meaning the illness was acquired through an unknown exposure in the community. It’s also possible, however, that a thorough investigation may show that the patient had exposure through contact to a returned traveler who was infected,” she said.

Messonnier later added, “While the immediate risk to the general American public remains low, and the U.S. government is doing everything we can to keep it low. CDC is constantly monitoring what is happening abroad.”

To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

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