State, counties declare state of emergency over new coronavirus cases
53 cases of COVID-19 reported in California, 152 in United States
–Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Wednesday afternoon to help address the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Several California counties have also declared a state of emergency.
Newsom said the proclamation will help procure supplies and resources more quickly. His statement was delivered just hours after the first death in the state attributed to the virus. Newsom said 53 Californians had tested positive for the virus and 9,400 are being monitored for infection in 49 out of 58 counties in the state.
Newsom described the state’s response to the coronavirus in phases:
- The first phase was the repatriation of Americans abroad into quarantine in the state, which began with flights from Wuhan, China to Riverside in January, and continued with a flight from Japan to Travis Air Force Base in Solano County with passengers of the Diamond Princess about two weeks ago. Solano County had the first reported case of community transmission of the virus in the state.
- The second phase was the monitoring of at-risk people who flew into the state on commercial flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles international airports over the past several weeks.
- The third phase occurred last week when the first community spread case of unknown origin occurred in Northern California, and now in Southern California and other communities.
“We have accordingly, with this new ICU patient that passed away, entered into this next phase, that has required me to, under the circumstances, advance a proclamation of a state of emergency in the state of California,” Newsom said in a press briefing. “This is not something I say hyperbolically.”
“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Newsom said in a follow-up statement. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
The emergency proclamation includes provisions that protect consumers against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities, and give health care facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients, the statement said.
San Luis Obispo County reports no cases of coronavirus
–As of Wednesday afternoon, there are no cases of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County, said Jennifer Shay with the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency. “We still have no cases in SLO County, but we should not be surprised if that changes in the near future. We will issue a news release once we have a confirmed case.” The county will not disclose any suspected cases awaiting test results, she said. The SLO County health department issued a coronavirus update Wednesday evening, click to read.
On Wednesday, the superintendent of San Luis Obispo County Schools issued a statement on coronavirus concerns and said all local school administrators had received a briefing from local health officials.
The city of San Luis Obispo issued a statement Wednesday afternoon: “The City of San Luis Obispo understands the concerns expressed by community members regarding the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. According to the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department, the health risk to the general public in San Luis Obispo County remains low at this time.”
“The city is working in close partnership with the county to closely monitor the situation regarding the spread of COVID-19. As the lead agency, the county is actively working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state of California Department of Public Health, other county officials, local health care providers, and other partners to protect the health of the community.”
“The city and county are ready to protect the community but need everyone’s help. The city is asking community members to take everyday precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, like the flu and coronavirus.”
Health safety measures recommended by the city:
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick are all ways to reduce the risk of infection with a number of different viruses.
- Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and discard the tissue.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly.
LA County confirms six new Covid-19 cases, declares state of emergency
–Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning to allow local officials to better coordinate with state and federal partners to “enhance our preparedness” for the COVID-19 coronavirus, said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, at a press conference. The declaration “is not a response rooted in panic,” she said.
“I have signed a declaration of local emergency for the City of Los Angeles,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “While there are only a few known active COVID-19 cases in the region, the declaration helps us access state and federal funding to strengthen and support our efforts to prepare our region and keep our communities safe.” LA County officials confirmed six new cases of positive test results for the virus.
Throughout the United States, 152 total cases were being reported as of Wednesday, according to The New York Times. The reported number is expected to rise as more test results come in.
LA County joins the list of California counties to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. San Francisco County, Solano County, Sonoma County, Marin County have all declared emergencies related to the virus. Riverside County activated its emergency operations center.
Placer County Public Health reported the first death in the state from COVID-19. California Gov. Gavin Newsom offered his condolences, “to the family and loved ones affected by this death in Placer County. The state is working with federal officials to follow up on contact tracing of individuals that may have been exposed to provide treatment and protect public health.”
“This case demonstrates the need for continued local, state and federal partnership to identify and slow the spread of this virus. California is working around the clock to keep our communities safe, healthy and informed.”
California Department of Public Health statistics
–COVID-19 in California by the numbers, as of 10 a.m., March 3, as reported by the state health agency:
- 43 – Positive tests as of 10 a.m., March 3, since raised to 53 cases.
- 24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights
- 19 – Cases not related to repatriation flights
- 10 – Cases have been travel-related
- 5 – Cases passed person to person
- 4 – Cases of community transmission
- 9,200+ – Number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX
- 49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring
- 13 – Labs with test kits
- Thousands – Number of tests California is able to perform now
The California Department of Public Health, along with the CDC, does not recommend that healthy people wear masks at this time, the state agency said in a statement. However, masks are recommended to limit the spread of disease for people who are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
What to do if you think you’re sick
Call ahead: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recently traveled to countries with community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken, the state health agency said.
San Luis Obispo County’s urgent communicable disease line is (805) 781-4553.
California moves to secure more face masks for emergency responders
–As the spread of COVID-19 has caused nationwide shortages of respirator face masks for medical professionals, the California Department of Public Health is taking steps to protect health care professionals on the frontlines of the fight against novel coronavirus, the state agency said.
The Public Health Department announced on Wednesday that it has received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to use some of its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N95 filtering facepiece masks in certain situations.
The emergency planning reserves of N95 masks, some of which are past their manufacturer’s use-by date, have been stored in climate-controlled conditions that preserved the masks’ efficacy. The way the masks have been stored will prevent the degradation of elastic that slips around the ears, a key factor in the CDC and NIOSH’s approval.
“California is working hard to ensure our health care system is in the strongest possible position to respond to this evolving situation,” Governor Newsom said in the health agency’s statement. “Critical to that effort is making sure health care workers have the medical masks and protective equipment they need to protect themselves while caring for patients. Our state is extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of our health care workers in this time of expanded need.”
“Protecting the health and safety of the doctors, nurses, and other health care and dental care providers is a critical component of ensuring our public health at any time, and particularly now,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “Releasing this supply of masks will help keep our health care professionals safe on the job.”
As California’s testing for COVID-19 at 13 state and county public health labs in the state ramps up, Dr. Angell said that faster testing of patients may lead to a more rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases reported. That is not necessarily a sign that the rate of infection is increasing, but that our ability to test more people more rapidly is leading to better detection.
While additional positive tests continue to be reported by county health officers, state officials emphasized that these reports show swift and robust action is being taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts.
“The risk to the health of the general public in California remains low. We will continue to provide updates as this situation evolves,” said Dr. Angell in the agency’s statement. “At this time, the best way to protect your health is to practice good health habits like washing your hands regularly, covering your cough and staying home if you are ill. Also, if you have a fever and respiratory symptoms or other signs of COVID-19, call ahead. Calling your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care allows steps to be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of patients, healthcare providers and the community at large.”
Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated as new information is available.