Following in the footsteps of San Diego County and the city of San Francisco, Orange County officials Wednesday declared a local health emergency in response to the coronavirus.
"We will do whatever we can to keep the county coronavirus free,'' Board of Supervisors Chair Michelle Steel said.
There has only been one confirmed case of the virus in Orange County. Dr. Nichole Quick, the county's health officer, said that person has fully recovered.
Quick said the emergency declaration "makes sure we're nimble and flexible in how we respond'' to a potential local outbreak. She noted, for instance, that it will help the county request "mutual aid'' from other first responders elsewhere in the Southland if necessary.
But seeking to reassure the public, Quick said if there is an outbreak, the county has a "robust network'' of first responders and hospitals capable of handling an emergency. She noted that as a precaution, anyone diagnosed with the flu is now being tested for coronavirus.
San Diego County officials declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus on Feb. 14. Like Orange County, official in San Diego stressed that the declaration was not an indication of a greater risk of contracting the virus locally, only an effort to ensure the county was prepared to respond should an outbreak occur.
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The San Diego County declaration came while hundreds of people who had been evacuated from Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- were under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Those evacuees have since cleared quarantine and have been released. Two of those people were diagnosed with the virus, but they were treated and eventually released.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a local emergency on Tuesday.
There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus -- known as COVID-19 -- in that city.
Worldwide, more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, including 2,770 deaths, the vast majority of them in China. More than 50 cases have been confirmed in the United States.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to join Costa Mesa in a federal lawsuit seeking to block COVID-19 patients from being housed at the former Fairview Developmental Center. Costa Mesa filed the suit late last week, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the federal government and state from moving any patients to the facility. That order will remain in place until next Monday, when another court hearing will be held.
Costa Mesa officials contend they received little notification of the planned move, and questioned the suitability of the location, noting that state officials had previously questioned its viability as a temporary housing facility for the homeless.
Attorneys for the federal government contended that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials had inspected the site and determined it was suitable. They also said the government planned to use the facility to house 10 people who have tested positive for the virus but have not yet shown any symptoms.
The patients are believed to be among those who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been under quarantine while docked in Japan.