California Gov. Newsom declares state of emergency after first coronavirus-related death

Posted at 8:17 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 20:20:56-05

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon just hours after the state confirmed the first death due to coronavirus.

Newsom said at a press conference at the state's capital that there are currently 53 confirmed cases of the virus in California and health officials are monitoring 9,400 residents. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported there are a total of 29 cases, although their figures aren't always up to date.)

“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Newsom said. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”

Several cities within California including Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, and San Francisco have declared local emergencies. Orange and Marin Counties have also done the same.

Health officials in Placer County, Calif. said earlier Wednesday that the first deceased person in the state was an elderly adult who had underlying health issues. The news comes on the same day that Washington state reported an additional COVID-19 fatality, bringing the national death toll to 11.

The patient tested "presumptively positive on Tuesday," and was "likely exposed during international travel from Feb. 11-21 on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico," Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson, said in a statement.

The health department said others on the cruise may have been exposed to the coronavirus as well.