Following in the footsteps of San Diego County and the city of San Francisco, Orange County officials Wednesday will declare a local health emergency in response to the coronavirus.
Michelle Steel, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, and board Vice Chair Andrew Do plan to announce the declaration at an early afternoon news conference. Nichole Quick, county health officer, and Richard Sanchez, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, are also expected to attend.
There has only been one confirmed case of the virus in Orange County.
San Diego County officials declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus on Feb. 14. Officials there stressed that the declaration was not an indication of a greater risk of contracting the virus locally, only an effort to ensure the county was prepared to respond should an outbreak occur.
The San Diego County declaration came while hundreds of people who had been evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — were under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Those evacuees have since cleared quarantine and have been released. Two of those people were diagnosed with the virus, but they were treated and eventually released.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a local emergency on Tuesday. There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus — known as COVID-19 — in that city.
Worldwide, more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, including 2,770 deaths, the vast majority of them in China. More than 50 cases have been confirmed in the United States.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to file an amicus brief supporting Costa Mesa in a federal lawsuit seeking to block COVID-19 patients from being housed at the former Fairview Developmental Center. Costa Mesa filed the suit late last week, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the federal government and state from moving any patients to the facility. That order will remain in place until next Monday, when another court hearing will be held.
Costa Mesa officials contend they received little notification of the planned move, and questioned the suitability of the location, noting that state officials had previously questioned its viability as a temporary housing facility for the homeless.
Attorneys for the federal government contended that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials had inspected the site and determined it was suitable. They also said the government planned to use the facility to house 10 people who have tested positive for the virus but have not yet shown any symptoms.
The patients are believed to be among those who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been under quarantine while docked in Japan.
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday asking for more information about the state’s decision to seek to house the patients in Costa Mesa.
“From our initial research, I believe that there could be superior alternatives to Fairview Developmental Center,” Moorlach said.
Moorlach said the state has 37,279 either owned or leased properties that should be considered.
“Of these properties, how many have at least 10 individual bedrooms with attached bathrooms?” Moorlach asked in his letter to the governor, referring to the criteria the state sought in housing the patients.
“Communication is the key to battling the threat of the coronavirus,” Moorlach wrote. “As the state is considering the next steps on addressing the coronavirus, please understand our collective concerns and act in a way that protects the health of our community as well as the health of those infected with the virus.”
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