Officials in Riverside County have said they were monitoring COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, as the first U.S. death from the disease was reported in the Pacific Northwest.
Public health officials are stressing that there are “no new or existing confirmed cases” of the virus in the county.
“City Leaders are actively monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), working closely w/ Riverside County Department of Public Health & other agencies,” the Riverside City Fire Department Office of Emergency Management tweeted.
Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, said she and her team continue to “monitor the situation closely” and urged the public “to help spread facts, not fear.”
Officials reported on Saturday that a King County, Washington man in his 50s died of the coronavirus and had underlying health issues.
President Donald Trump gave a televised update on the outbreak Saturday, where he announced new travel restrictions involving Iran and warnings about travel to parts of Italy and South Korea, where high virus activity has been detected.
Trump appeared with Vice President Mike Pence — who was appointed by Trump to lead the U.S. response to the crisis — and officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who all stressed that the current risk to U.S. citizens was extremely low.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people can best protect themselves from the respiratory virus by washing their hands with soap and water; avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick.
Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the common flu was a greater public health threat and would claim more lives in the U.S. than coronavirus.
Meanwhile, more than 50 county residents who recently returned to the U.S. from other countries remained quarantined inside their homes due to potential exposure to coronavirus, according to the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
On Tuesday one county resident who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan tested positive for the coronavirus and is being treated in Northern California, county health officials said.
The patient was not identified. Health officials said the person “is expected to fully recover.”
The number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus throughout the nation is 69, the CDC said Saturday.
On Thursday, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside called for an investigation into whistlerblower complaints that healthcare professionals temporarily stationed at March Air Reserve Base to oversee the precautionary quarantine of nearly 200 evacuees for possible coronavirus exposure were not properly trained.
The 195 State Department employees and their loved ones were evacuated from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan at the end of January and were placed under quarantine Jan. 29 to see whether any were incubating the virus. All completed the isolation Feb. 11 without any signs of sickness and were permitted to leave the base.
Federal officials said the allegations were under review.
The coronavirus originated in China and has killed more than 3,000 people, the vast majority of them in China. More than 86,000 cases have been reported.