Neighbors of first Californian to die from coronavirus anxiously await word. ‘That’s close to home’

Virus Outbreak
A 75-year-old man who died Wednesday had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a cruise to Mexico last month.
(California National Guard)

Police began blocking access to the home of California’s first fatality attributed to the coronavirus in Rocklin on Thursday as worried neighbors stood in their yards asking for information.

The 75-year-old man who died Wednesday had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a cruise to Mexico last month. He died a day after tests confirmed he had the coronavirus.

“That’s close to home,” said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified as he stood on his lawn. “I’m in my 70s, so this is a big deal.”

Overhead, a helicopter circled the residential neighborhood, which neighbors said is frequently filled with children playing in the street. Police at the scene declined to say what prompted them to block access on Wednesday to the street where public records show the man lived.


Placer County health officials said the man who died had underlying health conditions. He was the county’s second confirmed case of COVID-19. Officials said close contacts of the man were being quarantined and monitored for the illness.

Placer County health officials said the man was likely exposed during travel on a Princess Cruises ship that departed Feb. 10 from San Francisco and sailed to Mexico before returning Feb. 21.

Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson said the man showed symptoms of COVID-19 while on the cruise and while traveling through the Port of San Francisco.

He called 911 and was taken by ambulance to a Kaiser Permanente in Roseville on Feb. 27. He was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday, with the results returned positive on Tuesday.


Ten Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers and five emergency responders who were exposed to the patient before he was put in isolation at the hospital are now in quarantine.

He was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise. After the man’s death, the cruise line said it was notified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the agency was investigating a small cluster of coronavirus cases in Northern California related to the cruise.

Route of the Grand Princess
(Thomas Suh Lauder / Los Angeles Times)

The company said that 62 guests who had made the same Mexico voyage the man who died was on remained aboard the Grand Princess for a subsequent trip to Hawaii. That trip was cut short, and guests and crew members who might have come in close contact with the passenger who died were asked to remain in their cabins until they could be screened.

Those people and any others experiencing flu-like symptoms or other respiratory distress were tested on Thursday, according to the cruise line. The U.S. Coast Guard delivered kits via helicopter Thursday morning so the ship’s medical team could administer the tests. The samples then were flown to a lab in Richmond, Calif., for processing, Princess Cruises said. The ship, which is currently off the coast of San Francisco, will not be allowed to dock until those test results are back.

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