Feb. 28 (UPI) — Health officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., announced Friday that a second person has tested positive for COVID-19 without having prior travel or contact with someone who has the disease.
The case, which involves an adult woman, is the third case of COVID-19 in the county.
Dr. Sara Cody, director of Santa Clara Public Health Department, said the woman had no contact with someone known to have the disease.
“We’ve been working to identify the woman’s contacts and to understand who she might’ve exposed to the virus,” she said at a news conference.
Cody said the county has received assistance from the California Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said the woman isn’t linked to either of the other two cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, nor had she traveled to Solano County, where the other case of community-spread coronavirus was reported. About 40 miles separate the two counties.
It is the 16th confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, not including evacuees from Wuhan and the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Meanwhile, CDC officials said all state and local public health laboratories across the country will have the capability to test for the virus by the end of next week.
The announcement comes as officials face criticism over shortages of working test kits in several states with hundreds of suspected cases of the virus, most notably California. UPI reported Thursday that California currently has 8,400 state residents under self-quarantine but only 200 kits available to test for the virus.
According to Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, states that received kits as part of the initial batch distributed two weeks ago will be able to use them under a modified testing protocol. Those kits yielded inconclusive results during quality assurance checks for one of their three testing components, while the other two were deemed effective.
However, the CDC now believes that the tests can accurately test for COVID-19 using just the two functioning components, Messonnier said. Still, the agency plans to send out revised test kits in the coming days.
“Right now, labs can start testing with their existing test kits … using those two components,” she explained. “All positive test results will continue to be confirmed by the CDC,” she added.
Specifically, Messonnier noted that additional test kits are “on the way” to California, with additional public health labs in the state capable of testing for COVID-19 coming on line. Several lawmakers and health leaders in California have made public requests for more tests to confirm cases more quickly.
On Thursday, officials at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento alleged that the first case of “community spread” in the United States — which was announced earlier this week — went undiagnosed for days because a request for testing wasn’t initially granted. According to NPR, the patient was transferred to the hospital on Feb. 19.
However, Messonnier said Friday that CDC records indicate that the agency wasn’t informed of the case until Sunday. They received samples for testing on Tuesday, and notified officials in California of the positive result on Wednesday.
“CDC has not said ‘no’ to any request for testing,” she added.
Messonnier said Friday that two more former passengers on the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus, bringing the total of infected U.S. citizens evacuated from the ship to 44. Three Americans evacuated from Wuhan by the State Department have also tested positive.
In all, the CDC reports that 451 people across the country have been tested for COVID-19. To date, all of the confirmed cases “have generally been doing very well,” Messonnier said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed Friday that it has been alerted to the first manufacturing shortage of an unnamed drug due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told ABC News that the agency has been “closely monitoring” the medical product supply chain “with the expectation” that the outbreak would “likely” have an impact.
“A manufacturer has alerted us to a shortage of a human drug that was recently added to the drug shortages list,” Hahn said in a statement Thursday night. “The manufacturer just notified us that this shortage is related to a site affected by coronavirus. The shortage is due to an issue with manufacturing of an active pharmaceutical ingredient used in the drug.”
“It is important to note that there are other alternatives that can be used by patients,” he added. “We are working with the manufacturer as well as other manufacturers to mitigate the shortage. We will do everything possible to mitigate the shortage.”
Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said that the agency was aware of reports of drug shortages, but they expect the issues to resolve now that the outbreak appears to be “slowing down” in China and industry there is going back online.