Is it possible to discover the immigration status of the first patient(s) who brought the coronavirus back with them (to the U. S. from Wuhan)? I didn't know where to begin looking, especially when HIPAA laws are in place. Perhaps via a FOIA request?

  • 4
    Most FOIA statutes do not require the government to create documents, only to produce copies of documents it already has. If the government does not have such a document (likely) then a FOIA request will fail with 100% probability.
    – emory
    Jun 7, 2020 at 21:18
  • 2
    Huge assumption that the "first patient" brought it back from Wuhan, considering they could have been from one of any number of countries, and contracted the infection from any number of countries, even countries that didn't have an active outbreak at the time (but had a person who was a carrier transit through).
    – DariM
    Jun 8, 2020 at 0:37
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    What on earth would you do with this information? It could be a US national, a tourist, a European, a person with a green card, a spouse of a US national ... ?
    – pjc50
    Jun 8, 2020 at 6:13

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly not, for the following reasons:

  1. This will very likely be a violation of privacy laws in nearly every state.
  2. Given the high number of cases with no or mild symptoms, how do you prove who brought the disease into the US with any degree of confidence?
  3. There have been outbreaks in many countries before the disease arrived in the US. How can you prove that the first US case didn't come from any of these places?
  4. Health care is very decentralised in the US, and it is in itself brings questions as to the precision of US-wide data.
  • 3
    Also, genetic testing of virus samples showed at least one separate wave of virus came via Europe. Jun 7, 2020 at 21:13
  • @jeffronicus Interesting.
    – kackle123
    Jun 8, 2020 at 16:53

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