This doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the federal government's virus response, and certainly doesn't bode well for American officials' ability to suppress the virus.
Early Monday, the CDC admitted that it had mistakenly released an infected coronavirus patient from the San Antonio Texas Center for Infectious Disease the day prior after the patient twice tested negative for the virus. At that time the patient had no symptoms and technically met the criteria for release, and so was allowed to leave, ABC 7 reports.
However, the patient was soon returned to isolation after a subsequent lab test came back positive for the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. So the CDC decided to bring them back to quarantine "out of an abundance of caution."
According to CNN, the patient was one of the evacuees from Wuhan, who was evacuated to Texas's Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio , been kept in quarantine on military bases in California, Texas and Nebraska.
So, why was the patient released if they still had a lab pending? The agency didn't offer any kind of explanation.
"The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable," said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
The CDC said the individual, who is currently being retested, had some "limited contact" with healthy individuals on the outside. The CDC said this wasn't the first time a patient has seen back-to-back tests go from negative to positive. The agency is going to need to tighten its 'criteria' for what constitutes a 'cured' case. Hopefully they will before they really drop the ball, if it's not already too late.
Today we learned that the CDC mistakenly released a patient from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease who later returned a positive COVID-19 reading.— Mayor Ron Nirenberg (@Ron_Nirenberg) March 2, 2020
The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable.
The CDC also released a statement:
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
CDC is aware others have encountered similar situations where test results have alternated back & forth between negative & positive. That is part of why CDC criteria states a patient must have two negative test results from specimens taken more than 24 hrs apart.
With the federal quarantine period for the Diamond Princess evacuees coming to an end on Monday, Nirenberg said the city and health department will do all they can to keep the community safe.
"Our San Antonio Metro Health District and other local officials continue to address the situation with the utmost professionalism and care," Nirenberg said.
Meanwhile, other local officials criticized the mayor and federal officials.
"This has been our biggest concern and now we will experience the consequences of no action," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff in a 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."
Similarly, India reported a case on Monday involving an individual who tested negative for the virus, but later tested positive and was brought in for treatment, but only after being allowed to have contact with family and members of the public.