LOS ANGELES – Stressing that they were acting out of “an abundance of caution” and not panic, Los Angeles County officials Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the novel coronavirus, as six new cases of the disease were revealed in the county in the last 48 hours.
Appearing at a morning news conference attended by L.A. Department of Public Health officials and L.A. County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, the officials said the declaration would allow greater coordination among various levels of government.
On Tuesday night, hours after the county Department of Public Health announced plans for the news conference, officials with Kaiser Permanente confirmed to various media outlets that it was treating a newly diagnosed coronavirus patient in Los Angeles.
“Kaiser Permanente is overseeing the care of a coronavirus patient who is home in self-isolation and being treated on an outpatient basis,” according to a Kaiser statement. “We are in touch with and monitoring the patient.”
No other details were released about the patient or how the person may have been exposed to the illness that has killed more than 3,100 people worldwide, mostly in China. Nine deaths have been reported in the United States, all in Washington state. More than 93,000 cases of the illness, officially known as COVID-19, have been confirmed around the globe.
A previous confirmed coronavirus patient in Los Angeles County has since recovered and been released from treatment.
News of the new Los Angeles County cases came on the heels of Orange County health officials announcing Tuesday that two more residents there had tested positive locally for the virus. Those diagnoses were still awaiting confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Orange County also had a previous coronavirus patient who has also recovered.
The newest Orange County patients are a man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s who had recently traveled to countries with widespread outbreaks of COVID-19. One media report indicated that the pair had both traveled — separately — to Italy.
Dr. Nichole Quick, Orange County’s health officer, credited the discovery of the new patients to increased local testing ability.
“The more you look for something, the more likely you are to find it,” she said. “… Now that our Public Health Laboratory is able to perform COVID-19 testing, we expect to see more cases here in Orange County. Our residents should take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like covering your coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands frequently.”