Oregon reported its first coronavirus case on Friday — and revealed the troubling news that it could not be linked to the patient’s travel history or to known contact with anyone else who is sick.
It’s the third instance of the virus spreading without a traceable cause on the West Coast; earlier Friday, health officials reported the second such “community-spread” case in California.
The Oregon patient is an adult resident of the state who works in a local elementary school, potentially exposing students and staff, the Oregonian reported.
The adult lives in Washington County, just outside of Portland, and does not have a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating and is not believed to have come in contact with another confirmed case.
“Our first concern is for this individual, to make sure they’re being cared for and is able to recover,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen in a statement.
Health officials are still awaiting official test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but are calling it a “presumptive” case after testing the patient locally.
“Our next priority is finding out who this individual had contact with and make sure they know about their risks, and to let them know how they can get care if they need it,” Allen went on. “We said this was a fast-moving situation, and that has proved to be true.”
The announcement adds to fears of the deadly virus spreading within the United States.
It came the same day California officials announced they had discovered the state’s second case from unknown origin, a 65-year-old from Santa Clara County.
The first such patient was a woman in Solano County, who is in serious condition and has been intubated, officials said. Both had no relevant travel or exposure history.
The two California patients are about 90 miles apart, meaning the virus may be quietly spreading among at least two separate populations in the state, as well as farther north on the coast.
Oregon officials said the patient has been isolated at a hospital and while they are investigating potential exposures at the elementary school.