There are now 129 confirmed cases of coronavirus nationwide, and Los Angeles County has declared a local health emergency

By Julie Mazziotta
March 04, 2020 05:24 PM
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California reported its first coronavirus-related death on Wednesday, marking the 11 death from the respiratory illness nationwide, and the first outside of Washington state.

The death occurred in Placer County, which encompasses Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Washington state also announced that another person had died, bringing the state’s death toll to ten, The Washington Post reported.

The two states have the most cases of the new coronavirus nationwide, with 32 in Washington and 45 in California. In the southern part of California, in Los Angeles County, officials confirmed six new cases and declared a local health emergency to divert funding to address the outbreak. There are now 129 cases total nationwide.

Several other states announced their first cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, including Utah and North Carolina, and others reported additional cases. New York is now up to six, Florida has three and Texas has 11.

Coronavirus Map
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., as of Wednesday morning
| Credit: Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

Outside of the U.S., China, the epicenter of the disease, has seen the number of cases slow after two months of alarming increases. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, they reported 131 new cases, a significant drop-off from early February, when they would see over 1,000 new cases in 24 hours. As of Wednesday, they have seen 80,270 cases of coronavirus, and around 3,000 deaths.

But the coronavirus is now spreading rapidly in Europe. The hardest hit country has been Italy, which now has 3,089 confirmed cases and 107 deaths after an outbreak in the northern part of the country. Italian officials said Wednesday morning that they will close all schools for two weeks in an attempt to slow down the virus, the second country to do so after Japan announced Thursday that they would close schools for a month.

Northern Italy Locks Down To Try Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus
People wear face masks in Milan, Italy
| Credit: Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty

U.S. health officials said Tuesday that they “expect to find more cases.” States were previously limited to only testing people who had recently returned from China or their close contacts but the Centers for Disease Control has since lifted those restrictions. The CDC is now allowing states to do their own testing, rather than requiring them to send all samples to the federal agency, and it is likely that the number of cases is actually higher than what has been reported.

“What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control, said Tuesday, referring to the instances of community spread in countries other than China, such as Italy, South Korea and Iran.

However, there is still a shortage of test kits, an issue the CDC said it is working on.

Several large U.S. companies such as Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase have canceled non-essential travel and announced teleworking options for employees concerned about the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Amazon confirmed that an employee at their Seattle office has coronavirus.

City Of Seattle Disinfects And Cleans Public Spaces As 6 Deaths In Area Result From Coronavirus
A worker in Seattle cleans a metro bus
| Credit: Karen Ducey/Getty

“Follow health care providers and what they say. If a health care provider, or a public health worker, tells you to stay home for 14 days, unless you need medical care, please do that,” Messonnier said Tuesday. “You may need to take a break from your normal, daily routine for two weeks. Staying home when you are sick is really important. Don’t let the virus spread beyond you. Stay away from other people.”