A staff member wearing a face mask pushes the shopping carts outside a supermarket in Los Angeles, California, the United States, March 4, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, hours after the first death caused by the disease was reported in the U.S. state. (Xinhua/Li Ying)
LOS ANGELES, March 4 (Xinhua) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, hours after the first death caused by the disease was reported in the U.S. state.
"The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus," Newsom said in a statement. "This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly."
According to the Proclamation of a State Emergency issued by the authority, the state government will take measures to make additional resources available and formalize emergency actions on battle against COVID-19.
The emergency proclamation included provisions that protect consumers against price gouging, allow for healthcare workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities, and give healthcare facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients.
Newsom on Tuesday announced the release of 21 million N95 masks to address shortages caused by COVID-19. Earlier this week, the state secured the capacity to test thousands of specimens from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expedite testing.
The proclamation also noted that personal protective equipment is "one of the most effective ways to preserve and protect" healthcare workforce and "is not necessary for use by the general population."
Wednesday's move came as the number of positive cases in California rose and following one official COVID-19 death, Newsom said at the press conference, adding it was also prompted by a cruise ship being held off the coast of California because several passengers and crew members had exhibited coronavirus symptoms.
Health officials believed the patient who passed away Wednesday morning in Placer County may have been infected sometime between Feb. 11 to Feb. 21, during international travel on the Grand Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico.
The cruise ship then went on to Hawaii, with many of the same passengers who were on the Mexico trip with the Placer County patient and the same crew, Newsom said, adding that testing kits are being flown to the ship and administered with help from the CDC.
Newsom said the state is particularly focused on senior centers, nursing homes and other care facilities where people live together, in light of the outbreak in Washington state that has already killed 10 there.
California had confirmed 53 cases as of Wednesday, and more than 9,400 people are in home monitoring across 49 counties, the governor said. Experts predicted that the number of infections would increase.