AUBURN, Calif. — Placer County Public Health is reporting that a resident has died of COVID-19. The person, an elderly adult with underlying health conditions, was the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county and is now the first to die from the illness in California.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient,” said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see.
“While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions.”
The patient tested presumptively positive on Tuesday at a California lab and was likely exposed during international travel from Feb. 11-21 on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico. The patient was in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Roseville.
Preliminary understanding from the contact investigation is that this patient had minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise and arriving at the hospital by ambulance on Feb. 27. Contacts to this case include ten Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers and five emergency responders who were exposed prior to the patient being put in isolation, and are now in quarantine. They are not exhibiting symptoms but are being quarantined and monitored. Other cruise passengers may have also been exposed. Placer County Public Health is working closely with Sacramento County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify and contact other cruise passengers.
As shared previously, this case is travel-related and does not represent local transmission but health officials believe local transmission is likely in the future.
In addition to handwashing and other basic steps the public at large can take to prevent illness, Placer County Public Health recommends additional measures to prevent exposure among vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions (such as diabetes, cancer, immunodeficiency, asthma, COPD and others). Public Health recommends that vulnerable people:
- Stay home as much as possible. Arrange for someone to deliver groceries and other items you need. Ensure you have at least a two-week supply of medication on hand.
- When staying home, healthy visitors are fine – but visitors who have fever, cough, or sore throat should be turned away. Encourage phone calls and video chats instead.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or before touching your face.
- If you need to leave the house, minimize contact with other people and with common surfaces. Stay at least six feet away from others. Avoid touching shared surfaces like door handles, or counters. Use clothing or a paper towel instead of bare hands to open doors, for example. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after touching any shared surfaces or objects.
“If you are healthy and not at higher risk, please look out for friends and loved ones who would be considered more vulnerable and offer support,” Sisson said. “We are working with our state and federal partners to limit the impacts of this disease to our community, but we need the public’s help as well.”