Is Coronavirus Spreading Locally in the U.S.?

By Edo Paz, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
February 27, 2020
Photo by Capturing the human heart

Yesterday we learned of the first case of coronavirus of unknown origin discovered in Northern California. What does this mean?

Well, before yesterday, there had been 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US. Of this group, 12 had travelled to China recently and 2 were exposed to a confirmed case. With this latest case, neither of those two factors were in play. This suggests that coronavirus may have spread within the community. Although it is a bit early to say whether this is the case, there are also some characteristics of coronavirus which make it pretty much inevitable that the virus will develop community spread.

First off, most cases of the coronavirus result in mild illness. While this is a good thing in general, it also means that infected individuals could walk around thinking they just have a regular cold when in fact they have (and are spreading) the coronavirus. In addition, the incubation period for the coronavirus may last up to 14 days, meaning an infected person may not show any symptoms for the first 14 days after infection. Both of these factors mean that infected individuals are more likely to spread the disease, which is something that the CDC, NIH, and other government agencies are already planning for.

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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Edo Paz, MD

Edo Paz is the VP of Medical at K Health. Dr. Paz has two degrees in chemistry from Harvard and earned his medical degree from Columbia University. He did his medical training in internal medicine and cardiology at New York-Presbyterian. In addition to his work at K Health, Dr. Paz is a cardiologist at White Plains Hospital, part of the Montefiore Health System.