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California governor declares state of emergency over coronavirus

 California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday (March 4) declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus in the state, which now has 53 confirmed cases.

“I want to just acknowledge that with 53 tested cases positive, this is no longer isolated in just one part of our state. This is broadly shared as a burden and responsibility up and down the state,” Newsom told reporters at a news conference in Sacramento.

“And I want to thank local leaders, including those that today, I think wisely and appropriately advanced a similar proclamation (of a state of emergency) in the city and county of Los Angeles,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, health officials announced the first California death from the virus in Placer County, near Sacramento. It marked the first coronavirus fatality in the United States outside of Washington state, where 10 people have died in a cluster of at least 39 infections that have emerged through community transmission of the virus in two Seattle-area counties.

“Our hearts go out to that individual, as you know, just recently in last few hours, it was confirmed in Placer County, that individual passed away. The number of cases in the state of California is 53,” Newsom said.

The man who died had underlying health problems and was likely exposed on a cruise ship voyage between San Francisco and Mexico last month.

That same cruise ship, on its way back from Hawaii, is currently being held off the coast of California as a precaution, said Newsom.

“We have a number of passengers and crew members that have developed symptoms on this cruise ship, it’s the Grand Princess cruise ship. As a consequence, we are going to be flying testing kits to the cruise ship and we are going to be sending those quickly back to the state, primarily to Richmond Lab, where we’ll be able to test very quickly within just a few hours those samples to determine whether or not these individuals that are symptomatic or just have traditional cold or flu or may have contracted the COVID-19 virus,” Newsom said.

The virus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, mostly in China, where the epidemic originated in December.

(Production: Omar Younis)

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