Updated 2:31 p.m.
A Placer County resident who was recently traveling on a cruise ship died Wednesday of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.
County officials say the patient was elderly and had underlying health conditions. This is the first patient to die of the illness in California.
“While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions,” said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson.
The recently deceased patient likely contracted the illness on a Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico, according to a Placer County press release. Another passenger from the same cruise tested positive for the illness in Sonoma County.
The Placer County patient arrived at Kaiser Permanente Roseville by ambulance on Feb. 27 and was kept in isolation, according to the release. Officials believe the patient had limited exposure to the Placer County community between the cruise and the hospital.
Late Wednesday Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency. He also recently announce the release of 21 million respirator masks to help protect health care workers.
In a statement, Newsom offered his condolences to the family of the victim, and that the state is working to track the person's contacts and provide treatment.
"This case demonstrates the need for continued local, state and federal partnership to identify and slow the spread of this virus," Newsom wrote. "California is working around the clock to keep our communities safe, healthy and informed."
The county has identified 10 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers and five emergency responders who were exposed before the patient entered isolation. Those workers are now in quarantine and being monitored for symptoms, according to the release.
Placer County declared a public health emergency Tuesday to free up more funds to combat the spread of the virus.
San Francisco, Orange, Solano and Marin are among the California counties that have declared a local emergency.
At least three health care workers tested positive for the illness after treating a COVID-19 patient at a Vacaville hospital, and an unknown number of UC Davis Medical Center staff are in quarantine after interacting with the same patient when she transferred to the Sacramento facility.
Health agencies are not recommending that the general public wear masks, though sick people who must go out can wear them to reduce the spread of germs. County and state officials are reminding Californians to wash their hands regularly and to stay home if they don’t feel well.
Sisson said the emergency declaration will allow officials to “activate and deploy resources” to respond to an increase in cases.
The board of supervisors will consider the emergency for ratification next week.
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