SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon after the first novel coronavirus-related death in California.
Newsom said the emergency proclamation will allow more access resources, personnel and funding to aid in response to coronavirus. It also allows the local state of emergency declarations to extend without being updated. This comes after Placer County health officials said they no longer believe the risk to the general public from COVID-19 in Placer County is low.
The Placer County health department says the person who died was a critically ill 71-year-old resident of Rocklin who was likely exposed to the virus on a Princess cruise ship that left from San Francisco to Mexico last month. That same cruise is associated with a coronavirus case in Sonoma County.
Newsom said approximately 50% of the customers on that cruise, which took place from Feb. 10-21, are California residents. State health officials are now working to contact the 2,500 California-based cruise customers. The CDC will contact the cruise ship customers who are from outside of California.
Additionally, Newsom said the Grand Princess cruise ship that the infected people were on left for a trip to Hawaii a few days after it docked in San Francisco. He said a number of passengers and crew members on that ship have developed coronavirus symptoms, so the ship is now being held off the coast of California.
The CDC, Coast Guard and state officials will fly coronavirus test kits to the ship and test them in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. Newsom said the test kits will come back with results within about four hours, and officials will assess what to do with the ship from there. Authorities are now searching for others who may have been exposed.
“We are working collaboratively with feds and CDC on the manifesto of those passengers who disembarked and in the state of California those residents,” said Newsom.
“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Newsom. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
The governor says the federal government is teaming up with the state and focusing on nursing homes, and other health care facilities that care for the elderly.
There are currently 53 positive coronavirus cases in California, 29 of which are not related to the federal repatriation flights. The Department of Health said there are 9,400 people who returned to the self-monitoring after returning to the U.S. through SFO or LAX. While state health officials remind people the risk to the general public is still low, they are encouraging residents to monitor local health departments for risks in their communities.
Dr. Sonia Angell said, “This is a quickly evolving situation and just as infectious diseases move across different populations at different rates, that indeed is also happening here.”
On Tuesday, the state announced the release of millions of reserve N95 masks to address shortages caused by the virus.
The emergency proclamation also helps 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.