First CA Coronavirus Death Reported In Northern California

PLACER COUNTY, CA — An elderly person in Placer County with underlying health conditions has died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday. The death is the first in California caused by the virus, and the 11th total in the United States.

The patient, whose age and gender were not disclosed, tested presumptively positive Tuesday after having likely been exposed on a round-trip Princess cruise between San Francisco and Mexico from Feb. 11 to 21, Placer County officials said in a statement.

The patient was being kept in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient,” Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson said in a statement. “While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see.”

The person had “minimal community exposure” in the six days between when they returned from the cruise and when they were taken to the hospital in an ambulance Thursday, according to a preliminary investigation by health officials.

People who did come into contact with the patient — 10 Kaiser Permanente health care workers and five emergency responders — are now in quarantine, officials said. They are not experiencing symptoms, officials said.

In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said state and federal officials were working to trace the contacts of all people who were exposed to the patient.

Other cruise passengers may also have been exposed, and officials are working to identify and contact them. A health officer for the Grand Princess ship, currently en route to Mexico, told passengers Wednesday morning that the ship would return to San Francisco.

Outside California, all U.S. deaths from COVID-19 had previously been limited to Washington state, where an outbreak in the Seattle area has caused 10 deaths — many of them linked to an elder care facility in the city of Kirkland.

Also on Wednesday, Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency after announcing six new COVID-19 cases.

To help vulnerable people stay safe, Placer County health officials urged them to stay home as much as possible, turn away visitors who are showing symptoms of their own, wash hands regularly and avoid contact with people and common surfaces when leaving the house.

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