For members of the media, please contact:
Laura Mayes, City of San Antonio (210) 207-1337
Michelle Vigil, City of San Antonio (210) 207-8172
For questions from the general public, please contact:
COVID-19 Hotline (210) 207-5779
INFO CURRENT AS OF 7:00 p.m.
SAN ANTONIO (March 1, 2020) — Below are statements from Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff in regards to a COVID-19 patient who was released by the CDC and later placed back into quarantine. San Antonio Metro Health will support the CDC’s effort to determine any individuals who may have come in contact with the person. Metro Health has been tracking where the person went, who they interacted with, timeframes outside the federally ordered quarantine and who may have been exposed. This information will be shared with the public when completed.
Statement from Mayor Ron Nirenberg:
“The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “We will hold the CDC accountable to providing complete transparency for the public. This situation is exactly why we have been asking for federal officials to accept the guidance of our medical community.”
Mayor Nirenberg added, “Our San Antonio Metro Health District and other local officials continue to address the situation with the utmost professionalism and care. We will do everything within our power to ensure that the community is kept safe and the exposure risk remains low. The federal quarantine period for the Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees ends tomorrow March 2. I have asked the CDC to do everything in their power to ensure that those who are released pose no risk to the community.”
Statement from Judge Nelson Wolff:
“This has been our biggest concern and now we will experience the consequences of no action. 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. I issued a letter on February 18th relating our concerns and then a joint letter with the Mayor on February 24th. To date, no response or even acknowledgement of our concerns has been made,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Judge Wolff added, “Our federal representatives, the CDC, and the US Department of Defense cannot and should not ignore us now. We are in dire need of additional resources and protocols immediately to include longer quarantine periods and the opening of appropriate facilities such as the Alabama facility or the San Antonio Military Medical Center. Please do not delay any longer and risk local transmission.”
The CDC issued the following information on March 1, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is retesting an individual who was released from isolation for COVID-19 at a local healthcare facility yesterday (because the individual met the criteria for release including two negative test results), but later returned to isolation after a pending, subsequent lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
This patient had been under isolation while being treated at a local medical facility for several weeks following a return to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, on a State Department chartered flight. At the time of discharge from the facility, the patient was asymptomatic and met all of CDC’s criteria for release – resolution of any symptoms and two consecutive sets of negative test results, collected more than 24 hours apart. Following the patient’s release, results of a subsequent sample were received, and determined to be weakly positive. Out of an abundance of caution, CDC decided to bring the individual back into isolation at a local medical facility.
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.
It’s important to remember that this is a new virus and we are learning more about it every day. The cycle of infection with COVID-19 is not yet well understood, but the amount of virus is typically highest when the person is sickest. As the illness resolves, the amount of virus falls.
CDC is aware that others have encountered similar situations where test results have alternated back and forth between negative and positive. That is part of why CDC criteria states that a patient must have two negative test results from specimens taken more than 24 hours apart. The cycle of the virologic infection on this particular patient is longer than what has been previously seen.
This is an unfolding situation with many unknowns. CDC is making decisions on a case-by-case basis using the best available science at the time. CDC’s priority is to protect both patients and communities.
For more information about COVID-19 visit www.cdc.gov/covid19.