California’s first coronavirus fatality — an elderly patient who apparently contracted the illness on a cruise — prompted the governor Wednesday to declare a statewide emergency as six new cases, including a medical screener at Los Angeles International Airport, were confirmed.
The cruise ship is now under investigation as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention probe a “small cluster” of coronavirus patients who were aboard, according to the cruise line. Another passenger who contracted the COVID-19 virus is now in stable condition at a hospital in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. Health officials believe both cruise ship patients were exposed while they were on the Grand Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21.
The cruise ship is at sea but is expected to skip its next port and return to San Francisco by Thursday, according to a statement from Dr. Grant Tarling, the chief medical officer for the Carnival Corp., which operates the Grand Princess. Any current passengers who were also on the February trip will be screened.
The CDC is working with California authorities to contact other passengers from the previous trip, CDC Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday at a White House briefing.
Officials in Los Angeles County and the city have signed proclamations of local emergencies to aid efforts to respond to the virus and free up resources. Authorities are also assisting shelters to prevent transmission of the virus in the homeless population.
With files from the Associated Press
Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Anita Chabria, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering California state politics based in Sacramento; her latest piece looks at coronavirus and the Grand Princess cruise ship; she tweet @anitachabria