Los Angeles County Declares Emergency as California Reports First Coronavirus-Related Death

LAX Coronavirus Facemasks Getty - H 2020
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Six new cases in L.A. County were linked to a known exposure source, officials say.

Los Angeles County on Wednesday declared an emergency with six new cases of coronavirus announced. That brings the county total to seven. The news came shortly before California announced the state's first death amid the outbreak.

Health officials in Northern California say the victim was an elderly man who had other health conditions. He died Wednesday at a hospital in Roseville where he was in isolation. Officials say the man was likely exposed to the virus while traveling in February on a Princess cruise ship from San Francisco to Mexico.

The Los Angeles County cases were confirmed Tuesday night and all the new cases were linked to a known exposure source, officials said. Ages, genders and locations of the patients were not specified. 

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has received Centers for Disease Control & Prevention test kits. The health department will monitor and support those patients in isolation (quarantine), officials said. 

San Francisco and Orange County already declared similar health emergencies.

County health officials, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, implored residents to wash their hands often and to avoid physical social interactions, such as hugs and handshakes. They also said anyone with any illness, no matter how minor, should stay home. 

County officials also asked that businesses and schools be understanding with employees who wish to work from home. 

Mayor Garcetti did not mince words, saying more cases are inevitable and it is every resident's responsibility to take the proper precautions, which he again said included washing hands often and curtailing physical social interactions. 

County officials said hospital staffs and emergency responders are being trained how to handle any infected or thought-to-be infected patients. 

March 4, 11:45 a.m. Updated with first California death.