"This will allow the county to ensure all means are available to us to protect the public," said Michelle Steel, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, at a press conference Tuesday. The declaration will allow the county to request mutual aid from local and federal government agencies should the county exhaust all of its resources, officials said.
The county's first case of novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, was confirmed in January. The infected person was a traveler from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.
Patient diagnosed with first case of coronavirus in Orange County
Board Vice Chair Andrew Do announced that sole patient has since recovered, "however, we must be prepared and craft our response in the event that it becomes necessary," he said.
County health officer Nichole Quick said Orange County will increase its "local surveillance," meaning residents who go to hospitals with flu-like symptoms will also be tested for the virus.
The declaration comes as the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support the city of Costa Mesa in a legal battle against the state and federal government's plan to house 30 to 50 infected patients at the Fairview Developmental Center.
OC Supervisors join fight to block turning Costa Mesa center into coronavirus quarantine site
On a national scope, President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. is "very, very ready" for whatever the coronavirus threat brings, and he put his vice president in charge of overseeing the nation's response.
Pres. Trump names VP Pence to lead US response to COVID-19 coronavirus threat
Trump sought to minimize fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S. But he said he was ready to spend "whatever's appropriate," even if that meant the extra billions of dollars that Democrats have said is necessary to beef up the U.S. response. Trump had told Congress earlier this week that the government needed to spend $2.5 billion to fight the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.