Coronavirus Death Connected to California Cruise Ship
Crown Princess cruise ship docked in the waters off Santa Barbara in 2015 (Photo: Steve Bissell)
By edhat staff
California's first coronavirus death came from a cruise ship that's scheduled to dock in Santa Barbara later this month.
The state reported its first death due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Wednesday. The victim is a Placer County man who recently took a cruise.
Officials believe the victim contracted the virus on a February 11-21 cruise aboard the Grand Princess that traveled between San Francisco and Mexico. The unidentified man is described as being 71-years-old with underlying health conditions.
The Grand Princess cruise ship cancelled its current route to Ensenada and is now headed back to the San Francisco area with 2,500 people on board. It's unclear exactly where it will dock.
"Public health officials have advised that no guests will be permitted to disembark until all results have been received," Princess Cruises said in a statement. However, not everyone onboard will be tested but only identified groups of guests and crew determined by the CDC, reports CNN.
There are approximately 21 people onboard who have developed symptoms of illness.
"There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests (guests who were on the previous Mexico voyage and remained onboard for the current Hawaii voyage), those guests and crew who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness," according to the cruise line.
Cruise Ships and Santa Barbara
As of Thursday, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County. Officials state the health risk to the public remains low at this time.
Santa Barbara County officials and the Public Health Department (PHD) state they have been planning and preparing should COVID-19 be identified in the county.
The Amadea cruise ship arrived on Wednesday morning and departed in the evening. On March 24, the Grand Princess cruise ship, the same ship that carried an infected passenger who died this week and is headed to San Francisco, is scheduled to arrive in Santa Barbara. It's unknown if this ship will still continue with its scheduled trip to the area.
As of now, the City of Santa Barbara stated it has not cancelled any scheduled cruise ship visits but will continue to monitor the situation and take actions based on recommendations from the PHD and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) are tasked with evaluating each incoming cruise ship and will not allow it to port/disembark in Santa Barbara unless it is deemed safe to do so, according to the City of Santa Barbara.
Coronavirus in California
There are currently 36 active cases of COVID-19 in California as Governor Gavin Newsom announced a State of Emergency yesterday due to the rapid spread of the virus. Newsom made the declaration to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway across multiple state agencies and departments, and help the state prepare for a broader spread of COVID-19.
“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Newsom. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
The emergency proclamation includes provisions that protect consumers against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities, and give health care facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients. Millions of N95 masks were released as the state secured the capacity to test thousands of specimens from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expedite testing.
Los Angeles County is reporting seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. One person is hospitalized and five are isolated in their home while being monitored.
Many of the cases in California are travel-related, according to the California Department of Public Health. The first case of unknown origin was a patient admitted to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento in February. This prompted new testing guidelines from the CDC.
Officials Urge Public to Stop Panicking
Many officials are urging the general population not to panic and to take the same general precautions during the regular flu season.
Edhat reader John Wiley posted a photo of empty store shelves in Costco this week sparking a discussion about panic. What do the experts say? There's no need to panic-buy supplies.
“Panic-buying happens when people worry about the scarcity of supplies,” says Steven Taylor, professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, who specializes in the psychology of pandemics. “Some people rush to supermarkets and so forth in the hope of getting ahead of the crowd. But in reality, those people are simple panic-buyers who happen to arrive early,” reports NBC News.
Stop the spread of germs by:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw it in the trash
- Do not cough or sneeze into your hands, use your elbow if needed
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles, cell phones, and keys.
- Washin your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Stay home if you are sick. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor first before visiting their office.
The Center for Disease Control does NOT recommend using face masks. Facemasks are not efficient at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Facemasks should ONLY be worn by people showing symptoms of the disease. Unless you or a close family member is showing symptoms of COVID-19, avoid wearing a facemask.