A woman who was released from quarantine in San Antonio before health officials learned she had tested positive for the new coronavirus may have exposed up to a dozen people at a hotel before she was brought back into isolation, officials said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Monday the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's release of the woman was "unacceptable" and "appears to be a case of negligence."
The CDC said Sunday that it was retesting the patient, who had been released from isolation Saturday but later returned after a lab test was "weakly positive."
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The person was under isolation for several weeks at a medical facility in San Antonio after returning from Wuhan, China on a U.S. State Department chartered flight, the CDC said.
The CDC's criteria for release from quarantine include the resolution of symptoms, two consecutive negative test results collected more than 24 hours apart. The patient met the criteria, but a third test came back "weakly positive" after the person was released, the CDC said.
The CDC said the person had "some contact with others" after their release and that officials were working to trace "possible exposures" and notify them of the risk.
Local and state officials expressed concerns Sunday night over the patient's initial release.
"The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable," San Antonio 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."
"This incident is exactly why we have been asking for federal officials to accept the guidance of our local medical community," Nirenberg wrote in a Facebook post. "San Antonio Metro Health 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 CDC said it makes decisions on a "case-by-case basis using the best available sciences at the time."