Coronavirus: Riverside County declares health emergency after 2 cases diagnosed

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside County's health chief has declared a local health emergency following the disclosure of two novel coronavirus cases in the county.

The declaration was a response in particular to the county's first "locally acquired" case of the virus - one not tied to the individual's travel abroad. The unidentified patient is undergoing testing at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage.

The other known case in a county resident was diagnosed in a person who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who was diagnosed last week and is recovering at a medical facility in Northern California.

That person has not returned to Riverside County since leaving the cruise ship, officials said.

"The public health emergency declaration will support the county's planning and response efforts and is a signal to the community that the disease has been introduced to the area," said Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

The county had already activated a medical health department operations center to better coordinate public messaging and planning with agencies in the community.

Kaiser's declaration will be submitted to the county Board of Supervisors for expected ratification at the board's meeting on Tuesday, March 10.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak was first recognized in Wuhan, China in December 2019, there are nearly 110,000 cases worldwide, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 80,000 of those cases are in mainland China. The United States has more than 500 cases. Total deaths worldwide has reached more than 3,800 with 21 deaths in the United States, including one in Northern California.
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