Los Angeles: The state of California has reported its first coronavirus death, taking the overall death toll in the US to 11 with 154 confirmed cases, authorities said.
The patient, an elderly adult with underlying health conditions living in Placer County, died in isolation at a hospital on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.
The victim had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday was likely to have been infected sometime between February 11-21 during a cruise from San Francisco to Mexico in February.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient,” said Placer County Health Officer Aimee Sisson told the media on Wednesday evening.
“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.”
Health officials said the person had minimal community exposure after returning from the cruise and going to the hospital.
All 15 healthcare workers who were exposed prior to the patient were now in quarantine and none of them exhibited symptoms.
However, it’s possible that other cruise passengers may have also been exposed, Placer County Public Health said, adding they were are working closely with Sacramento County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify and contact other cruise passengers.
Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the state following the news of the death.
“The state of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Xinhua news agency quoted Newsom as saying in a statement on Wednesday.
“This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
This is the first coronavirus death in the US to occur outside of Washington state, where the 10th fatality was also confirmed on Wednesday.