Coronavirus in California keeps spreading: ‘It’s not a matter of if, but when’

A coronavirus health advisory
A coronavirus health advisory at St. Joseph Medical Center in Orange.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Clara, San Mateo, Placer and Sonoma counties all reported new cases of coronavirus on Monday.

Santa Clara County confirmed two new cases of coronavirus.

That brings the total of COVID-19 cases in the county to nine, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

California has recorded at least 157 cases of COVID-19, including four deaths, in more than a dozen counties.


One of the cases involves a man who was a “household contact” of a previously confirmed case in the county. The other is a man who was a household contact of a previously confirmed case in another county. Both people are under home isolation, officials said.

A household contact refers to a person who likely shared or lived in the residence of another person. The relationships are unclear at this time.

San Mateo County reported its first case of coronavirus, pending confirmation from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.


“This new case of a positive case of novel coronavirus has happened in San Mateo County and we share the concerns of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that we all need to be prepared for COVID-19 to spread within the United States,” said Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officer.

“To prevent any illness, follow CDC guidelines including washing your hands frequently, covering your sneeze and staying home when sick,” he continued. “Also, please dust off your personal emergency plans to make sure you have proper provisions at your home including water, medications and food.”

The source of exposure is unknown at this time. The adult patient has been hospitalized and is in isolation, officials said, and has no known exposure to the virus through travel or through contact with a confirmed case.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told Congress there was no need for healthy Americans to stock up on supplies.


This marks the second case of coronavirus in San Mateo County. The first was an individual who was repatriated to the U.S. by the CDC. That person is in isolation and in good condition.

Placer County confirmed its first case of coronavirus, pending confirmation from the CDC.

The individual is a healthcare worker at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital who had close contact with a previously confirmed case in Solano County before that individual was transferred to another hospital and later tested for the virus.

Placer County spokesperson Katie Combs Prichard said that the individual came into contact with an older woman who had been transported to UC Davis after her physician contacted the public health department to discuss the case and request testing for the novel coronavirus. That case was announced Friday.


In order to identify individuals who came into contact with the woman while she was at NorthBay VacaValley, officials sifted through medical records to see which clinicians had entered her room. Additionally, three days’ worth of security footage from 8 p.m. Feb. 15 to mid-morning Feb. 19 were scoured to ensure that all visitors and non-clinicians — such as workers who brought in food trays or refilled bathroom supplies — were tallied.

The individual at Placer County is isolated at home with mild symptoms.

In Sonoma County, officials declared a local health emergency after reporting a second coronavirus case there, pending confirmation from the CDC.

The person had recently traveled internationally on a cruise unrelated to the Diamond Princess cruise, officials said. The individual, who is isolated and in stable condition, has been in Sonoma County for 10 days after returning from a cruise ship that departed from San Francisco and traveled to Mexico.


Meanwhile, in Sonoma County, a private school closed for the day after learning that an adult affiliate of the school — not an employee — had been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus.

“We were not able to confer with Public Health last night or early this morning as the agency was closed. At 6:15 this morning we made the cautious decision to close school for today. We will work with public health officials to determine and follow appropriate protocols and follow up with additional information,” Andy Davies, head of Healdsburg School, said.

The school will be reopen Tuesday.

The Healdsburg Unified School District remained open Monday.


There have been more than 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus in California — the majority of whom are individuals who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship or from Wuhan, China.

Officials in San Francisco are expecting more cases as the more testing occurs.

“As the situation changes rapidly in the Bay Area and on the west coast, we expect to have confirmed cases in San Francisco and are preparing for community spread of the virus,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of health. “It’s not a matter of if, but when. The Health Department will prioritize protecting the populations that are most vulnerable to becoming very sick or dying if they get COVID-19. That includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases and underlying health conditions.”