As the death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 170, U.S. health officials on Thursday reported the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the virus – the husband of a Chicago woman who recently came down with the illness after visiting China.
The woman, who is in her 60s, was hospitalized after being diagnosed with the illness following her return from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on Jan. 13. She and her husband, who did not join her on the trip, are hospitalized.
“We understand this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low,” said Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Chicago, Allison Arwady, chief medical officer at Chicago Department of Public Health, echoed that view, saying authorities were prepared for such a development.
“We do not have signs of spread in the general public at this time ... there is no local emergency,” Arwady said.
She described the woman as is "doing well" and said her husband is in “stable condition”
Health officials think the new virus spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.