NEWS | February 26, 2020

Novel Coronavirus Patient and Precautions at UC Davis Medical Center


As providers at the Sacramento area’s top-ranked hospital, the care teams at UC Davis Medical Center are the most highly skilled and equipped in the region to treat patients with serious illnesses such as the novel coronavirus. This is a version of the memo shared with our medical staff today regarding what is now the 60th confirmed case in the U.S.

UC Davis Medical Center UC Davis Medical Center

Today we learned a patient we are treating here at UC Davis Medical Center for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is being investigated by the CDC as possibly the first patient to have received the infection from exposure in the community.

This patient was transferred to us from another Northern California hospital. Since the patient arrived with a suspected viral infection, our care teams have been taking the proper infection prevention (contact droplet) precautions during the patient’s stay.

Upon admission, our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19. We requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC, since neither Sacramento County nor CDPH is doing testing for coronavirus at this time. Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process. 

On Sunday, the CDC ordered COVID-19 testing of the patient and the patient was put on airborne precautions and strict contact precautions, because of our concerns about the patient’s condition. Today the CDC confirmed the patient’s test was positive.

This is not the first COVID-19 patient we have treated, and because of the precautions we have had in place since this patient’s arrival, we believe there has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center.

We are proud of our health care workers who have been working to care for this patient and are committed to saving this patient’s life. Just as when a health care worker has a small chance of exposure to other illnesses, such as TB or pertussis, we are following standard CDC protocols for determination of exposure and surveillance. So, out of an abundance of caution, in order to assure the health and safety of our employees, we are asking a small number of employees to stay home and monitor their temperature. We are handling this in the same way we manage other diseases that require airborne precautions and monitoring. We are in constant communication with the state health department and the CDC and Sacramento County Public Health about the optimal management of this patient and possible employee exposures.

As we regularly handle patients with infectious diseases, we have robust infection control protocols in place to handle this patient and others with more frequently seen infectious diseases. In this case, we are dedicated to providing the best care possible for this patient and continuing to protect the health of our employees who care for them.

There are a number of informational resources, including a Q&A, patient and visitor FAQs, and background information on COVID-19 on the UC Davis Health website and The Insider.

David Lubarsky, M.D., M.B.A.
Vice Chancellor of Human Health Sciences
CEO, UC Davis Health

Brad Simmons
Interim CEO, Chief Operating Officer
UC Davis Medical Center