Orange County announces two presumptive coronavirus cases

Face masks
Low stocks of masks and gloves at a CVS Pharmacy in Oakland.
(John G. Mabanglo / EPA-Shutterstock)

Orange County officials on Tuesday announced two presumptive coronavirus cases, both of whom had recently been in countries where the virus has spread.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now looking to confirm those results. At least five Northern California counties reported new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. On Tuesday, the city of Berkeley reported its first case after an individual visited a country with an outbreak. That individual has remained at home in a self-imposed quarantine since returning.

“While the risk of infection remains low, the expanded presence of the virus in our community is a reality we should all prepare for,” said Berkeley Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez. “There are steps that all of us in the community can take now to improve basic hygiene and also prepare for a wider spread in the future.”

CDC director Robert R. Redfield, delivering a message to the American public, reiterated that point.

“I want them to be prepared for the reality that ... there are going to be more cases in the community,” he said. “But I want them to continue their daily lives. I want them to be mindful of the opportunity again to prepare themselves and their families.”


Redfield said scientists do not have the data to predict the disease’s future spread.

“What we do know for sure, that in the right setting, it does have the potential to move quickly,” he said. “When you think that just a couple of weeks ago there were less than three cases in Korea, now there’s 2,500.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that the California Department of Public Health received approval from the CDC and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to dip into its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N-95 face masks for medical workers on the front lines.

“The more you look for something, the more likely you are to find it,” said Dr. Nichole Quick, Orange County health officer. “Now that our public health laboratory is able to perform COVID-19 testing, we expect to see more cases here in Orange County. Our residents should take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like covering your coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands frequently.”