US sees 1st case of Chinese coronavirus, sparking preparations at hospitals

Hospitals are taking steps to identify coronavirus patients after the first U.S. case of the mysterious respiratory infection was identified in Washington state, The New York Times reports.

The man is a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., and was hospitalized with pneumonia last week after returning from a trip near Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. Since the coronavirus case was confirmed Jan. 20, the Dow has plummeted 200 points, CNN reports.

China has confirmed 18 deaths related to the outbreak, with over 500 sickened.  Coronavirus cases have also been confirmed in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. Travelers from Wuhan will be screened at five U.S. airports, the CDC confirmed Jan. 21.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center changed electronic prompts Jan. 20 so incoming patients with a fever or respiratory symptoms are asked if they have been to China recently or have had contact with anyone who has recently visited China.

Hospitals nationwide are likely taking similar steps to quickly identify infected patients and place them in isolation so they can be cared for safely, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, told The New York Times. 

WHO officials will decide if the outbreak should be declared a global health emergency Jan. 22. 

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