Long Beach officials ramp up precautions against coronavirus

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Long Beach city and health officials addressed how they are trying to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus on Thursday.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said the city is prepared and closely monitoring the situation, and that the city is taking additional steps at its airport and the Port of Long Beach.

"This is a global public health crisis. We have to take this very seriously," Garcia said.

Garcia said while there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Long Beach, the city is being proactive.

"Long Beach Airport for example, is undergoing extra cleaning, maintenance and disinfecting," he said.

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Garcia says hand sanitizer is also being made available at every public facility.

At the Port of Long Beach, the second largest container port in the U.S., there are more precautions involving workers on ships that arrive from China.

"If a vessel comes from China with that crew, they have to remain on the vessel," said Mario Cordero, the Port of Long Beach Executive Director.

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Concern is growing over the coronavirus, or COVID-19, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a person in Northern California may be the first case in the U.S. where the source of the illness is not yet known. It raises the possibility that the coronavirus is circulating in the community.

"Long Beach has been monitoring travelers returning from mainland China for 14 days after arrival to ensure they do not develop symptoms of COVID-19," said Long Beach City Health officer Dr. Anissa Davis.

Davis says out of 64 travelers they were notified of, they're monitoring eight people. So far, none have developed symptoms.

At the state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom says at least 8,400 people in California are being monitored. Thirty-three have tested positive for the virus.

The state is working with federal officials to expand testing of possible patients.

"We have just a few hundred testing kits in the state of California and that's surveillance testing as well diagnostic testing," Newsom said. "That's simply inadequate to do justice to the kind of testing that is required to address this issue head on."

Newsom said the CDC has promised to send additional testing kits in the next few days.
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