SAN ANTONIO – A patient released from isolation in San Antonio on Saturday is being retested for the coronavirus at a local health facility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials say the patient met the criteria for release after testing negative for the virus twice. Both of the tests were administered more than 24 hours apart.
However, the patient later returned to isolation after a pending lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the CDC.
The patient was isolated when they were treated at the local medical facility for several weeks after returning from Wuhan, China, on a State Department chartered flight, the CDC says.
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Out of caution, the CDC says the individual was brought back into isolation at a local medical facility and is getting retested.
The patient did have contact with others while outside of isolation, and health officials are working to trace others that may have been exposed.
Metro Health is working to track where the patient went, who they interacted with, the time frames they spent outside of the quarantined facility and who may have been exposed, officials say.
“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,” said the CDC in part, in a press release.
Several Texas officials are speaking out after the CDC’s announcement that a patient was released into San Antonio with possible coronavirus exposure.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says it’s unacceptable that CDC officials released the patient and allowed the public exposure.
“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.”
Judge Nelson Wolff also issued a statement and says the city is in need of additional resources and protocols going forward.
“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.”
Congressman Joaquin Castro issued a statement late Sunday, questioning the CDC’s management.
“If reports are true, the CDC’s premature release of a quarantined patient carrying the coronavirus into San Antonio raises serious questions about CDC management, protocols and the attentiveness of the Administration to public safety. While I have confidence in the competence of the medical professionals at the CDC, I am less confident in the decisions made by management. Specifically, the decision to release symptomatic patients from quarantine to local hospitals and the politicized decision to keep patients in San Antonio rather than carry out a planned transfer to a top-rate facility in Alabama. The people of San Antonio have always stepped up to receive people in need — especially fellow Americans. However, we expect that to be matched by absolute care and competence by the professionals entrusted with their treatment. My office has been in touch with the CDC and local officials everyday since we first learned of the plan to quarantine patients at Lackland. We have worked with local officials to communicate the concerns of the community to the CDC. Sometimes they have listened and sometimes, unfortunately, they have not. Following today’s news, I will ask the committees of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives to investigate CDC’s protocols for the treatment of coronavirus patients.”
Watch the an explainer video below of how the outbreak has played out in San Antonio:
We’ll bring more details as they become available.