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Released San Antonio patient tests positive for coronavirus, CDC says

The person had been allowed to leave quarantine Saturday but now has a positive test for coronavirus and has returned to isolation.

SAN ANTONIO — The CDC reports that an individual was released from quarantine at a San Antonio healthcare facility on Saturday, had contact with others, and returned to isolation after a pending lab test came back positive for coronavirus.

The patient was being treated in isolation after returning to the United States on a State Department chartered flight from Wuhan, China.

According to the CDC, the patient met their requirements for release: they were asymptomatic, and consecutive sets of tests taken more than 24 hours apart came back negative.

After the patient's release Saturday, test results from a subsequent sample came back weakly positive. The CDC says they decided to bring the individual back into isolation out of an abundance of caution.

RELATED: Coronavirus symptoms: What San Antonians need to know

The CDC says the discharged patient had some contact with others while out of isolation, and CDC and local public health agencies are following up to trace possible exposures and notify them of their potential risk.

San Antonio Metro Health said it will support the CDC's effort to determine any individuals who may have come in contact with the patient. Metro Health has been investigating the person's activities during the time outside of quarantine to determine who may have been exposed. Metro Health will share that information when it is completed.

RELATED: How Metro Health says we should prepare if coronavirus spreads to general community

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact-checking this week's viral coronavirus claims

San Antonio reaction

Mayor Ron Nirenberg called into question the CDC's practices and promised to hold the agency accountable.

“The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable,” Nirenberg said. “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.”

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," Nirenberg said. "I have asked the CDC to do everything in their power to ensure that those who are released pose no risk to the community."

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also questioned why a letter that he and Nirenberg sent to federal officials regarding testing off-base was not answered.

“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."

“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.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents parts of San Antonio, also questioned the patient's quarantine release.

"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," Castro said. "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."

Tracking symptoms

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office last week released a list of precautions Texans can take to avoid exposure to the virus. According to the release, these measures are very similar to ones you would take to avoid the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

This is a developing story. Watch for further details at KENS5.com. The video above was published Saturday, Feb. 29.

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