Washington state health officials confirmed Thursday that they have been reaching out to 43 people considered "close contacts" of the 30-year-old man who was the first confirmed case of coronavirus diagnosed in the United States.
The Snohomish County resident, who has not been named, identified people that he has interacted with since returning from Wuhan, China, and officials said that number could grow. Local health departments are reaching out to those contacts.
"It is pretty common for communicable disease patients. The more you talk to the individual the more you learn," said Dr. Kathy Lofy, the Chief Science Officer at the Washington state Department of Health.
The department defined "close contacts" as anyone who interacted with the patient and came within 3 to 6 feet (1-2 meters) of the infected person, for a prolonged period of time while infectious or had direct contact with his secretions.
Health officials have not identified who those individuals are, but did say that the patient would have come in contact with the people in a community setting or the health care setting.
On Wednesday, health officials said these "close contacts" will be called daily and actively monitored for signs of any illness. They will be asked if they have a fever or cough and will ask about other potential symptoms.
Lofy said that the department has had some calls about other suspected cases that are under investigation. The department has been communicating with health care providers to follow up about patients who have traveled to China or had respiratory illnesses.
Lofy said that the confirmed coronavirus patient is in "satisfactory condition." He is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center.