Published time: 31 March 2020
Authors: Brad Spellberg, M.D., Meredith Haddix, M.P.H., Rebecca Lee, M.P.H., Susan Butler-Wu, Ph.D., Paul Holtom, M.D .H, Yee, M.D., Ph.D. Prabhu Gounder, M.D.
Until recently, diagnostic testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), was only available through public health laboratories.1-3 This limited testing was prioritized for persons who had a severe illness or identifiable risk factors, such as travel to an area with ongoing transmission. Thus, the incidence of community transmission by persons with mild illness and without risk factors remains ill-defined. The current public health strategy of case containment is premised on the assumption of no or limited community transmission. Identifying a high rate of community transmission would indicate a need to shift the public health strategy from containment to mitigation of spread. Thus, determining the rate at which mild disease is spreading in the community, particularly among persons without risk factors for acquisition of the virus, is critically important. We conducted a rapid sentinel surveillance study to determine what proportion of mild, outpatient influenzalike illnesses were caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Community Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Patients With Influenzalike Illnesses Presenting to a Los Angeles Medical Center in March 2020