The man who would become Patient Zero for the new coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. appeared to do everything right. He arrived Jan. 19 at an urgent-care clinic in a suburb north of Seattle with a slightly elevated temperature and a cough he’d developed soon after returning four days earlier from a visit with family in Wuhan, China.
The 35-year-old had seen a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alert about the virus and decided to get checked. He put on a mask in the waiting room. After learning about his travel, the clinic drew blood and called state and county health officials, who hustled the sample onto an overnight flight to the CDC lab in Atlanta. The patient was told to stay in isolation at home, and health officials checked on him the next morning.