LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Solano County in California declared a public health emergency on Thursday over the first possible community spread case of COVID-19 in the United States.
"Solano County Public Health officials received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a Solano County resident has tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and has possibly acquired the disease through community transmission," the county said in a statement.
"The patient had not been exposed to the virus through travel or through any contact with any infected individual and the patient's exposure is unknown at this time," it said.
"We are taking this situation seriously and are taking steps necessary to protect the health and safety of Solano County residents," it said, adding the risk to the public in the county remains low but as the outbreak continues to spread globally, there could be more reported cases in the future.
It said the county's Public Health Service has activated its Department Operations Center to bolster its response efforts in identifying, screening and following up with individuals potentially exposed to the virus, while collaborating with local, state and federal agencies to implement containment efforts and providing notifications to the public and community agencies as the situation evolves.
The proclamation came a day after a local woman, who lives in a 100,000-population community named Vacaville located between the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento, tested positive for COVID-19.
According to local officials, the woman admitted herself to a hospital in Vacaville and was taken to the U.S. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento three days later as her condition worsened. The community hospital did not test her immediately as she did not meet the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19.
Less than 100 people who had close contact with the woman, including her family and co-workers, have already been under quarantine, officials said.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas said local authorities are changing their approach to the virus from containment to control.
"At this point here in Solano County, we're transitioning from trying to contain the disease to more of a mitigation approach. We recognize that if we do have community spread, that it becomes necessary to consider more aggressive protection of our critical resources," Matyas said.
The official denied any connection between the woman's infection and the evacuation of U.S. passengers from Japan's virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship to the Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, 16 km south of Vacaville.
"There is no logic to draw this conclusion," Matyas said, asking local residents to keep calm as no other case has been found in the county.
"We understand the concern from our community because of the unknowns regarding this new virus. We are working with our local, state and federal partners to prepare for situations that may arise," the health officer said.
"We want to remind individuals that this virus does not discriminate, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race or country of origin," Matyas said.
Solano County is the third county in California to have declared a state of emergency over COVID-19. The previous two, San Francisco and Orange, declared a local emergency on Tuesday.