California Declares Coronavirus Emergency After Death, Symptoms on Cruise Ship Docked Outside San Francisco

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency at a Wednesday news conference in California after the first death in the state attributable to the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

A Grand Princess cruise ship is also being held in the waters off California after passengers and members of the crew exhibited coronavirus symptoms. Those individuals are expected to be tested for coronavirus inspection.

California had reported 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon. "That includes 24 individuals who were repatriated in the state of California," Newsom told reporters, "29 individuals that have subsequently been tested positive."

"The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus," Newsom said in a statement sent to Newsweek on Wednesday. "This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly."

According to the state of emergency proclamation, the Office of Emergency Services can use any suitable state-owned property or fairground to "assist in preparing for, responding to, mitigating the effects of, or recovering from COVID-19."

Consumers are also protected against price gouging "as it relates to emergency supplies and medical supplies" until September 2020.

Newsom also spoke Wednesday about the ship which is currently off the coast of San Francisco, saying that health care officials will be "able to get the testing kits out there very shortly. We're now into a turnaround of roughly four hours for testing."

"The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers, and appropriately assess the protocols and procedures once people make it back on to state land, state property," Newsom said.

California's first reported coronavirus casualty may have been exposed to the virus on a cruise ship that traveled from San Francisco to Mexico.

"This case demonstrates the need for continued local, state and federal partnership to identify and slow the spread of this virus," Newsom said Wednesday in a news statement. "California is working around the clock to keep our communities safe, healthy and informed."

gavin newsom
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California due to coronavirus at a Wednesday news conference. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Vice President Mike Pence said at a Wednesday news conference that the risk of coronavirus infection for most Americans remains low.

"If you are a healthy American, the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low," Pence said. "But it is still a good idea to engage in common-sense practices always recommended this time of year."

Some of those behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include staying home when you are ill, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces.

CDC also suggests washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, in lieu of handwashing, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Facemasks should only be worn by those infected with coronavirus to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others. Those who are well are not encouraged to wear facemasks.

So far, 95,479 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide while 3,285 deaths have been attributed to the disease.

Statista Map U.S. Coronavirus March 4, 2020
A map by Statista shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 4.