(CNN)A woman in San Antonio, Texas, who had previously tested negative twice for the coronavirus, and was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is now back in quarantine after a subsequent test came back positive.
Calling it a federal “screw-up,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is requesting that Americans evacuated from the the Diamond Princess cruise ship to San Antonio, whose quarantine is scheduled to end Monday, continue to be held until retesting shows they’re negative for the virus, he said.
In addition, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director Dawn Emerick is asking that the CDC change its protocol to add a third negative test before releasing people into the community, she said.
The woman, who was evacuated from Wuhan, China, to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on a flight chartered by the State Department, was released from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease on Saturday, according to San Antonio’s mayor.
The patient was part of the original group of 91 people evacuated to San Antonio from Wuhan, Nirenberg said.
“I find it totally unacceptable that CDC would release a patient prior to releasing all test results and potentially expose the public to this harm,” he said. “Local health professionals, in whom I have the utmost confidence, are working very hard to prevent the spread of this virus here in San Antonio, and we simply cannot have a screw-up like this from our federal partners.”
The patient was out in the community for about 12 hours and visited a hotel near the airport and then, from about 5: 30 to 7: 30 p.m. Saturday, the North Star Mall, where she mostly sat by herself in the food court, said Dr. Anita Kurlan, assistant director with the Metropolitan Health District. The risk of exposure at both locations is deemed low, she said.
City health officials have requested a deep cleaning of the mall, she said. At the hospital, officials identified 16 people who were in contact with the patient after she was prematurely cleared, and two of them are considered at medium risk for exposure. The rest are considered low risk, Kurlan said.
The San Antonio case highlights concerns about testing procedures, including a flaw in test kits distributed by the CDC, a change in CDC criteria for diagnosing the virus and the limited number of labs able to perform testing.
Officials from San Antonio and Bexar County released a CDC statement that said the person had been in quarantine for several weeks and tested negative for coronavirus on at least two occasions.
The person was released after meeting the CDC’s criteria for release, which includes resolution of any symptoms and two consecutive negative tests collected more than 24 hours apart.
“At the time of discharge from the f