California Declares State of Emergency, Holds Cruise Ship Over Coronavirus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after the first death from the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the state, and tests are conducted on board a Princess cruise ship that's been linked to two cases in the state.

The former cruise ship passenger died nearly two weeks after he returned to his home in California. The ship he was on, Princess Cruises' Grand Princess ship, is finishing up a separate voyage with 2,500 passengers on board that also includes dozens of other passengers who were on the same trip as the man who died. The man who died was 71 and had underlying health conditions, according to Placer County health officials.

The patient was reportedly exposed to the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, on the cruise that sailed from San Francisco to Mexico between February 11 to 21.

At least 11 passengers and 10 crew members on board have reportedly developed symptoms of the coronavirus, Newsom said at a press conference on Wednesday. After the cruise ship finished its voyage to Mexico, it took on a new set of passengers and sailed to Hawaii.

At least 62 passengers who were on board the cruise with the man who died, also continued on the voyage to Hawaii, officials said.

"This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly," Newsom said.

Test kits are being sent to help screen the passengers on board the cruise ship now to determine if anyone on board has developed the disease. Federal health officials have required passengers to remain in their cabins until they're cleared by medical professionals. The test kits will then be sent to a lab in Richmond, California, according to a statement from Princess Cruises.

Fears Of Coronavirus Spreading Causes Shortages Of Supplies At California Stores

Fears Of Coronavirus Spreading Causes Shortages Of Supplies At California Stores

Meanwhile, the number of cases in the U.S. continues to rise with at least 160 people confirmed to have the disease nationwide. That number includes at least 46 former passengers who were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, that was quarantined off the coast of Japan for several weeks. Ten other people have died in Washington state, with the majority of those linked to a long-term nursing home near downtown Seattle.

In New York, health officials confirmed an additional 2 cases in New York City, making a total of 13 in the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at least one of the cases involved a Manhattan lawyer, and his wife, son, daughter, and neighbor.

On Wednesday, congressional leaders agreed on a $8.3 billion dollar spending package that would help fight the disease. That spending bill heads to the House, who will vote on it Thursday.

Health officials also encouraged people to avoid "hoarding" critical medical supplies, such as masks, gloves and disinfectant, and again stressed the importance of washing your hands.

Globally, the virus continues to rapidly spread, with South Korea announcing an additional 516 cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing that country's total to 5,328 confirmed cases - the most outside mainland China. Japan announced that visitors from South Korea and China would need to complete a two-week quarantine at a government facility before they would be allowed in the country.

More than 300 cases have been confirmed in Japan, with seven deaths there.

In Italy, the government announced it would close all schools and college for the next ten days while they deal with the outbreak there that has seen more than 2,000 cases of the virus.

Photo: Getty Images

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