SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday the state is monitoring about 8,400 people for the coronavirus, a day after a Solano County patient was identified as the first coronavirus case in the U.S. from unknown origin.
At a news conference with state health officials to update the state’s preparation, Newsom said the state also currently has a shortage of coronavirus testing kits and has worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update the testing protocols for the coronavirus. Initially, the Solano County patient wasn’t tested for the coronavirus because she did not present the risk factors such as travel to China or contact with infected patients.
Currently, California only has 200 testing kits for the coronavirus and Newsom said the number of available kits from the CDC will be “exponentially expanded” starting Thursday afternoon.
“That is simply inadequate to do justice to the kind of testing we need,” said Newsom.
The 8,400 in California being monitored are returning travelers from China, according to the state health department. Those people have been urged to self-quarantine for 14 days and to limit their interactions with others.
Newsom says there are 28 people in California who have tested positive for the virus. “We have 33 confirmed positive tests for the coronavirus,” said Newsom. “Five individuals have subsequently moved out of state.”
The California Department of Public Health maintains the risk to the general population in California is low for the coronavirus, and that more than 80% of people infected with the virus have mild or no symptoms.
The governor and health officials were cautious in revealing any information about the identity of the Solano County coronavirus patient, currently being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, but were working to alert those who may have dealt with the person.
“People who have been in contact with this individual absolutely have the right to know,” said Newsom.
Solano County on Thursday declared a local emergency and the county’s health department said it was activating its operations center to bolster its efforts to identify, screen and follow up with people potentially exposed to the virus.
Newsom reiterated that while people in Solano County should be concerned about the virus spreading there, he did not want to “overextend the anxiety that people naturally face.”
“Look, everybody in this country is rightfully anxious about this moment, but I think they should know that we are meeting this moment with the kind of urgency that is necessary,” said Newsom. “This is something we are organizing around, something we’ve been organizing around for months. Nothing so far has surprised us. Nothing. What happened in Solano County did not surprise anybody. I think the only thing, respectfully, that surprised folks is that it didn’t happen sooner.”
Newsom said people should continue as normal while observing the standard practices that prevent transmissions of colds and flu, such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
“I think people should go on with their day-to-day lives with some common sense.”