A Wuhan evacuee was released from quarantine in Texas and later tested positive for the coronavirus

CNN's Ivan Watson reports from Goyang, South Korea, where authorities are trying out a new method to test for the novel coronavirus. South Korea has over 4,200 cases, with 26 deaths.

Posted: Mar 2, 2020 6:50 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2020 6:51 PM

A woman in San Antonio, Texas, who had previously tested negative twice for the coronavirus and was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is back in quarantine after a subsequent test came back positive.

Hours before declaring a public health emergency, Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the patient's release a federal "screw-up" during a news conference and is requesting that Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to San Antonio continue to be held until retesting shows they're negative for the virus.

About 122 people from the ship are being quarantined, he said later in a CNN interview. Their quarantine was scheduled to end Monday.

In addition, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director Dawn Emerick is asking that the CDC change its protocol to add a third consecutive negative test before releasing people into the community, she said.

The woman, who was evacuated from Wuhan, China, to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on a flight chartered by the State Department, was released from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease on Saturday, according to San Antonio's mayor.

The patient was part of the original group of 91 people evacuated to San Antonio from Wuhan, Nirenberg said, expressing dismay that a patient was released into the community while her test results were pending.

"I find it totally unacceptable that CDC would release a patient prior to releasing all test results and potentially expose the public to this harm," he said. "Local health professionals, in whom I have the utmost confidence, are working very hard to prevent the spread of this virus here in San Antonio, and we simply cannot have a screw-up like this from our federal partners."

The patient was out in the community for about 12 hours and visited a hotel near the airport and then, from about 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the North Star Mall, where she mostly sat by herself in the food court, said Dr. Anita Kurlan, assistant director with the Metropolitan Health District. The risk of exposure at both locations is deemed low, she said.

City health officials have requested a deep cleaning of the mall, she said. At the hospital, officials identified 16 people who were in contact with the patient after she was prematurely cleared, and two of them are considered at medium risk for exposure. The rest are considered low risk, Kurlan said.

The San Antonio case highlights concerns about testing procedures, including a flaw in test kits distributed by the CDC, a change in CDC criteria for diagnosing the virus and the limited number of labs able to perform testing.

Officials from San Antonio and Bexar County released a CDC statement that said the person had been in quarantine for several weeks and tested negative for coronavirus on at least two occasions.

The person was released after meeting the CDC's criteria for release, which includes resolution of any symptoms and two consecutive negative tests collected more than 24 hours apart.

"At the time of discharge from the facility, the patient was asymptomatic and met all of CDC's criteria for release," the CDC statement said.

Following her release, a subsequent sample showed a weak positive. She was taken back into isolation at a local medical facility, the statement said.

It's unclear why the additional test was performed. CNN's calls to the CDC have not been returned.

"The discharged patient had some contact with others while out of isolation, and CDC and local public health partners are following up to trace possible exposures and notify them of their potential risk," the statement said.

Local officials are concerned that the person's release could have exposed the community.

However, the individual is not showing any symptoms, according to the local officials.

"This has been our biggest concern and now we will experience the consequences of no action," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said in the joint statement. "Time and time again, I have raised issues concerning evacuees, inappropriate accommodations, the risk of exposure during transporting and the need for additional monitoring and extended quarantine periods."

The woman released by the CDC was one of 11 presumptive positive cases her department is monitoring, Metropolitan Health District spokeswoman Michelle Vigil said. Nine of the patients were evacuated from a cruise ship, one person was evacuated from Wuhan, and another was transferred from quarantine in Miramar, California, Vigil told CNN in an email.

Diagnosing patients has been problematic. Early in the outbreak, the CDC issued guidance saying potential patients needed either to have traveled to China or to have been in close contact with someone who visited in China before being tested. New criteria were issued after a patient from Northern California contracted the illness, despite meeting neither prerequisite.

This came two weeks after several states reported that some CDC test kits weren't working properly, forcing the center to remake parts of the test. Health experts also have expressed concerns about a dearth of test kits.

The federal government is working to bolster its testing capabilities, mailing more than 15,000 test kits to local and state labs over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence said. Also, where there was only one CDC facility that could test for the virus in the early weeks of the outbreak, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said last week there are now dozens of labs capable of doing the tests.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11499683
Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
Allen2717128
St. Joseph186366
Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
Tippecanoe6778
Madison64864
Clark63844
Bartholomew58244
Howard56057
LaPorte55326
Kosciusko5124
Vanderburgh4806
Jackson4653
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Noble45728
Hancock43735
Boone43443
Delaware42949
Marshall4273
Shelby42025
Floyd37144
Morgan32531
Montgomery29320
Grant29026
Clinton2852
Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
Decatur24832
Henry24315
Lawrence23624
Vigo2288
Dearborn22723
Harrison21022
Warrick21029
Greene18432
Miami1812
Jennings17111
Putnam1688
Scott1607
DeKalb1594
Daviess14116
Orange13523
Wayne1346
Perry1279
Steuben1262
Franklin1248
Jasper1142
Ripley1147
Carroll1102
Wabash1102
Fayette987
Newton9710
Whitley884
Starke853
Randolph784
Huntington712
Wells711
Jefferson701
Fulton681
Jay680
Washington661
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay604
Gibson592
Rush563
Adams481
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55257

Reported Deaths: 2903
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9825417
Cuyahoga7392372
Hamilton5605197
Marion273038
Lucas2669302
Pickaway218441
Summit2079206
Montgomery191826
Mahoning1805231
Butler151144
Columbiana128860
Stark1079112
Lorain98367
Trumbull91665
Warren81421
Clark7619
Belmont54322
Delaware54115
Fairfield52916
Tuscarawas52910
Medina50632
Lake48018
Miami45531
Licking44212
Portage42858
Ashtabula42544
Wood40451
Geauga39942
Clermont3906
Wayne35951
Richland3255
Allen30540
Mercer2788
Darke24525
Greene2449
Erie23422
Holmes2203
Huron1992
Madison1928
Ottawa13923
Crawford1345
Washington13020
Putnam12615
Sandusky12614
Hardin12012
Morrow1161
Ross1133
Auglaize1044
Coshocton902
Monroe8817
Jefferson832
Union801
Hancock781
Hocking788
Muskingum761
Preble701
Williams682
Guernsey673
Lawrence670
Clinton660
Shelby644
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot585
Brown541
Defiance493
Fayette460
Knox451
Highland441
Athens431
Champaign391
Scioto380
Seneca332
Perry321
Van Wert320
Henry290
Paulding230
Adams221
Pike220
Vinton222
Jackson180
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Morgan110
Noble110
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