NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fears of a coronavirus pandemic are growing as markets tumbled again.
A new confirmed case has U.S. health officials scrambling to connect the dots.
As of today, there are at least 82,758 confirmed cases worldwide, and 2,817 deaths.
The California patient represents the first case in the United States that isn’t linked to foreign travel, raising questions about how many people in the general public are currently infected and don’t know it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the California patient may be the first case of “community transmission” in the United States, meaning the patient was probably infected by someone in the general population who had not traveled internationally.
“We don’t know where they got it from. So the person who exposed them probably exposed others, so there’s probably other cases out there in the community that we don’t know about,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at UC Davis.
Local health officials say they are preparing for the possibility of person to person transmission in New York City. In a letter sent home with students Thursday afternoon, the Health Department urged parents to follow flu prevention measures like regular hand washing and avoiding contact with the ill.
While there are no plans to close schools right now, Mayor Bill de Blasio said anyone who is sick should stay home and get help.
Countries around the world are taking drastic measures to contain the virus. Japan is closing all schools until April. Saudia Arabia will close all major holy sites to foreigners.
Study abroad programs are also being impacted, with schools like Seton Hall, Villanova and Sacramento State recalling all students studying in affected countries.
“The president has no higher priority than the health and safety of the American people,” said Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence, who is now running point on coronavirus, says President Donald Trump is committed to keeping Americans safe as the virus spreads.
“My role is to help lead this effort with the coronavirus task force, engage local officials, including mayors around the country, and work with Congress on Capitol Hill,” Pence said.
Congress is expected to vote on funding for the coronavirus within the next two weeks. Even lawmakers critical of the president’s handling of the crisis now say unity is key.
“This is not a time for name calling or playing politics. The first step that Congress must take is to ensure the government has the resources needed to combat this deadly virus and keep Americans safe,” Nancy Pelosi said.
That female patient in California is now in isolation at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Health officials are trying to trace her contact to determine how she contracted the virus.