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Governor: Coronavirus changing 'by the hour' in California

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Ambulances are outside Travis Air Force Base., where Americans have been evacuated from overseas for quarantine after being exposed to, or sickened by, the coronavirus. Photo by Hector Amezcua, AP Photo.

As the number of cases and urgency around the coronavirus increases, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that California is on high alert and working closely with the federal government on the return of Americans from overseas.

But in a state that has more people in quarantine than any other, many questions remain unanswered. Plans on where to house infected patients are not clear, local governments are declaring emergencies and at least one lawmaker said he's getting "radio silence" from the governor's administration.

"This changes quite literally by the hour," Newsom said Wednesday. "As of last count, 31 people have been identified as having the coronavirus in the state of California and have gone through the repatriation process and are in various states of health."

Newsom's comment illustrated the uncertainty and rapid change around the issue.

His updated number differs from that currently being reported by the state's public health department, which is publicly reporting only 10 cases in the state. Soon after his comment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed a new California case that is the first example of coronavirus transmitted from person to person in the general public and not related to travel.

That person is a resident of Solano County, where hundreds of people have been quarantined over the last few weeks. The patient is receiving medical care in Sacramento County, the state's public health department said.

"There's no other state in America that has been more involved in addressing the issue," Newsom said.

Hundreds of Americans being repatriated from Wuhan, China, where the virus was first identified, and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a ship that was quarantined in Japan after people tested positive for Coronavirus, were placed under mandatory quarantine, many of them in California.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 60 cases as of late Wednesday. This total seems to only take into account the 10 cases being reported by the state.

In early February, 234 people were evacuated from China and sent to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Those people have completed their 14 day quarantine. Later, about 300 people who were evacuated from the cruise ship arrived at the same base, although some of those people were transferred to another military base in Texas. Of those passengers from the cruise ship, 14 were infected.

As concern grows, California communities are increasingly declaring local health emergencies.

On Wednesday, Orange County declared a local health emergency, following on San Francisco's footsteps. San Diego and Santa Clara counties also have issued similar emergency declarations. This allows communities to roll out an accelerated emergency preparedness plan.

"Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

The reaction of communities echoes the growing concern by federal health officials who say further spread of the virus in the U.S. is expected. Earlier this week, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters that spread of the virus was a matter of time. In a press conference with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, however, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at CDC, said, "The trajectory of what we're looking at over the weeks and months ahead is very uncertain."

But perhaps an even more time-sensitive concern is where to place patients who are under quarantine in the state and test positive for the virus.

People at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, who test positive for the virus can't stay at the base because there is no place for them to be properly isolated. Instead they are being sent to hospitals in Northern California counties, including Napa, Contra Costa and Sonoma, even if they're not showing symptoms. There, they are placed in isolation in specialized rooms until they are cleared from infection.

The current setup could place a burden on local hospitals, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly and the Director of the state's Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci in a letter sent Tuesday to Alex Azar, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary.

In the letter Ghaly and Ghilarducci said they are committed to finding a location to place California residents, but want the federal government to come up with a plan for non-California residents. About 70 of a reported 156 people at Travis Air Force Base are California residents.

Federal officials were considering a facility in Anniston, Alabama to house infected patients, but after the Republican governor and others protested, President Donald Trump assured them that Alabama would not receive any of these patients, raising questions about political favoritism.

"With the Anniston, Alabama site being placed on hold, we do have significant concerns that there is no alternative plan from the federal government," the California letter said.

"We request that your team immediately provide us with information relative to any alternative plans for non-California residents. As more individuals test positive at Travis Air Force Base, the urgency to have alternative plans implemented grows," the letter says.

Last Friday, California planned to move state residents who tested positive for the virus to the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, an empty state-owned facility. City officials blocked the move with a restraining order from a federal judge and a decision that is still pending.

State Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican who represents Costa Mesa, on Wednesday sent a letter to Newsom seeking answers.

"Without having been consulted until after your Administration recommended (Fairview Developmental Center) to the federal government, I have been working hard to provide answers," Moorlach wrote in his letter.

Moorlach said that last Thursday he got a call notifying him that 16 patients would be transferred to the Costa Mesa facility. "And after that, it's been radio silence," Moorlach told CalMatters.

"We're not trying to be obstructionists, we're looking for answers," he said. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics. Read more state news from CalMatters here. Ana B. Ibarra can be emailed at

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.


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6 people like this
Posted by Kate Yelkovan
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:27 am

Wow. Coronavirus sucks.

15 people like this
Posted by Dead Man Walking
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:46 am

This epidemic is beginning to pick up steam and many more will either get ill or perish along the way.

A friend who works in one of the local hospitals informed me that the coronavirus 'checkpoint' protocols at the entrances will continue well into the spring & past the standard seasonal flu season precautions.

Coronavirus is now a global concern & casualties are mounting...until a vaccine can be created, the possibilities of a Spanish Flu pandemic unfurling itself is possible due to the modern day expansiveness of air travel.

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:59 am

The other aspect to remember is that although this is serious, the majority of those infected do recover. Not undermining the fact that we have to protect ourselves in the small and bigger pictures, but those who die are a very small percentage of those infected.

The latest news of a patient in Northern California with so little other information is more concerning. Not that the patient has the virus, but that so little information is being given out. It behooves the question why.

10 people like this
Posted by Dead Man Walking
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2020 at 10:06 am

"The other aspect to remember is that although this is serious, the majority of those infected do recover."

You brought up a good point but using pneumonia as an example...when someone contracts pneumonia they have a 30% chance of dying. That's a 2-1 wager.

Are you OK with those odds?

Now I imagine the odds of dying from coronavirus are low/lower at this particular point in time BUT there are always going to be mutations & variants resistant to certain medications.

And when/if that time ever arrives..."Houston, we have a problem."

9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2020 at 11:07 am

Preparing yourself and your family for a possible pandemic takes time

When the Covid 19 virus becomes pandemic the ONLY tool available to individuals and their families will be "social distancing". Unfortunately it takes time to acquire and organize the resources required to "social distance " your family.

An excellent guide for making such preparations was produced in response to the avian flu pandemic and was then revised for the swine flu pandemic. This document was circulated world wide and translated into a number of languages. 

It remains a well tested and proven generic plan for any pandemic.

Here is a no password Dropbox link to the Citizen's Guide:

Web Link

"Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response: A Citizen’s
Guide describes possible consequences of an influenza
pandemic, and makes it clear that individuals
and families can and must know what to do should
a pandemic occur. It also describes how those
with this knowledge can help to educate others
in the simple measures that will mitigate and limit
the negative impact of an influenza pandemic on
the world’s communities. Public health authorities
throughout the world agree that the responsibility
to respond to a public health emergency such
as pandemic influenza cannot be fully placed on
health workers and other primary responders, who
may themselves become incapacitated by illness
and death. It is thus each individual’s responsibility,
alone or collectively, to plan for and respond to
a pandemic in the home and/or in the community.
Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response: A Citizen’s
Guide clearly describes, in lay terms, the actions that
each of us can take."

-David L. Heymann, M.D.
former World Health Organization, Executive Director, Communicable Diseases

17 people like this
Posted by No big deal - says Donny
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Donny the Impeached just told us it's minor, we only need to worry about his stock market numbers.

How's the market this week?

6 people like this
Posted by Karma
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 27, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Mother nature's way of defending herself from parasites.

7 people like this
Posted by @Karma
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm

And yet, here you are...

11 people like this
Posted by voter
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 27, 2020 at 7:12 pm

Don't worry. Donald Trump says that Mike Pence will take care of the virus for a fraction of the money that California is asking for.

13 people like this
Posted by Genious
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2020 at 10:11 pm

The President also warned that things could "get worse before it gets better," but he added it could "maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows."

Wha a stable genius leader we have.

27 people like this
Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2020 at 12:43 am

Agree with Genious
LOL @ "Stable Genius" - In times of crisis - Worst...President...Ever...

2 people like this
Posted by investor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2020 at 2:37 am

Sudden $50 Billion hit to Calpers assets. Time for another tax increase.

6 people like this
Posted by Trumppenny-wise, 280 pound foolish
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 28, 2020 at 7:03 am

> Sudden $50 Billion hit to Calpers assets.

The CA economy is going to take an even bigger hit than that. But Trump 'saved' so much by cutting disease control operations, didn't he?

So wise! So penny-wise, 280 pounds of obese foolish.

"But the Trump administration has spent the last two years gutting critical positions and programs that health experts say weakened the federal government's ability to manage a health crisis.

In 2018, the White House eliminated a position on the National Security Council tasked with coordinating a global pandemic response. The CDC that same year also axed 80% of its efforts combating disease outbreaks overseas because its funds were depleted.

In its latest budget proposal, the Trump administration sought to cut CDC funding by 16% — even as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar seeks emergency spending from lawmakers to combat the coronavirus."

source - Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Competence matters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2020 at 7:38 am

Yet another way that Republican voters and their party-over-country and destroy government of the people bully-baby attitude imperils us (and democracy) all. How did we get to a place in which a party that supposedly cares about the Bible (thou shalt not bear false witness...) and about fiscal conservatism (notice not fiscal responsibility) have turned incompetence and lying into their God?

Would love to see the Fifth Risk turned into a movie since, you know, Republicans think reading is optional in leadership.

Competence should matter. Why have we gotten to the point where such a small popular-vote-losing segment of our population who can’t seem to field competence, honor, or compassion ina candidate end up controlling everything and putting everyone’s lives at risk? (That’s way before 2016 here.)

3 people like this
Posted by Do the math
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 28, 2020 at 8:31 am

About .3%, three tenths of one percent, of those who catch pneumonia die worldwide. The number is much lower in the U.S.

Someone got the decimal place wrong, or is looking at the death rate among those who are already in emergency care because of pneumonia.

Web Link

12 people like this
Posted by Doomsday
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 28, 2020 at 9:05 am

Since when did Democrats become the party of doomsday? Honestly, if it’s not dire, dramatic and full of rife you aren’t happy. Stop, look around at All the beautiful spring flowers and take a breath. You’ll be OK, really.

Just in case I’ll save this link and come back in 3 months and say “I told you so”. I’d say the same about climate change, that I’ll come back in 30 years and tell you see, everything is. oak, however I’m not sure I have that many years left. But based on the drama I’m seeing on these threads I’ll have a much better, positive time getting to my end that y’all will getting to yours!

13 people like this
Posted by Brit
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2020 at 9:10 am

I flew back from the UK a couple of weeks ago. As we arrived in SFO there were three flights arriving into the immigration area. This meant hundreds of people in line waiting in close proximity. One of the flights had arrived from Asia and another had arrived from Mexico. There were elderly people and young children and everything inbetween. It took 2 hours from the time our flight landed to when we eventually left the customs area, most of that time was standing in lines that circled around the immigration area.

Many of the people from the Asian flight were wearing masks. Most of the immigration officials were wearing masks and plastic gloves. However, many people needed to remove masks to have their picture taken by the officials and many needed to put their hands on finger printing machines at the immigration officers' request.

So the question of whether authorities are taking precautions seriously or not. Why continue mixing arriving passengers from different parts of the world in the same lines where extremely tired people are standing very close together in close confines? Why are they not putting in more officials so that the time in line is much quicker? Why are they not at least wiping down the finger print machine plate after each use? If the immigration officers are being provided with masks and gloves to protect themselves, why are arriving passengers not?

I suspect airports are front line as much as schools and hospitals. I saw zero precautions being taken.

8 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2020 at 9:56 am

This is overblown hysteria. 31 in CA in a state of how many? You should be more worried about the flu, according to one doctor. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening or winning the lottery. Just tale the necessary precautions - like any other disease.

12 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 28, 2020 at 10:04 am

We are trying to address a health problem and Newsome is crowing about CA AGAIN. And some of you are taking this opportunity to make snarky comments about DT. You have a state legislature and a federal legislature. What are they doing? What is the state doing? Anything goes wrong and it is DT's fault - never the fault of the state or federal legislatures. Ask Ms. Pelosi what she is doing?

History - Flu epidemic of 1918 - my grandfather was the head of student services at SU and died of the flu. SU was shut down. Mom was sent up to relatives in NORCAL. DT's grandfather died in that flu epidemic.

And always remember that CA is the 6th biggest economy in the WORLD. And the AG that sues the other states and federal government.

8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 10:33 am

It's past time to call the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic and "time to push people to prepare, and guide their prep," according to risk communication experts.

Medical messaging about containing or stopping the spread of the virus is doing more harm than good, write Peter Sandman, PhD, and Jody Lanard, MD, both based in New York City, in a recent blog post.

"We are near-certain that the desperate-sounding last-ditch containment messaging of recent days is contributing to a massive global misperception," they warn.

"The most crucial (and overdue) risk communication task…is to help people visualize their communities when 'keeping it out' – containment – is no longer relevant."

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2020 at 10:54 am

It is now in the student population at UC Davis. Who knows where the next outbreak will be.

As a population, we move around a great deal. From overseas travel, domestic travel to all parts of nation, to all parts of the State. Other countries are canceling sports, conferences, schools are closing, etc. We have done none of that yet, but it will soon be more likely to happen here.

Comparing this to the 1918 flu that killed people worldwide is fair enough, but people did not travel as much then and personal hygiene was not what it is now.

It makes a lot of sense to take precautions, not only from Covid 19, but all types of flu. After all, testing for one over the other is not being done. In the UK they now have drive thru testing sights Web Link Patients are not getting out of their car to be tested by someone in a hazmat type suit. I suspect other countries have similar. Are they being prepared here? If not, how will someone know they have regular flu or Covid 19?

4 people like this
Posted by Covid
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 11:03 am

@Do the Math

Check your sources.
Check your Math.
The CDC and WHO public sh the Covid-19 death rates.
Pneumonia is a general descriptor like “Cold” or “Flu”
Having a pneumonia caused by this virus is quite deadly when compared to a simpler lung congestion based pneumonia. Stanford student critical thought ?

7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Basic facts:

Covid 19 is much more easily transmitted than the seasonal flu

Covid 19 is much more deadly than the seasonal flu

Today the seasonal flu is much more prevalent than Covid 19

Tomorrow no one yet know how prevalent Covid 19 will be

You get to decide how worried you should be and how much effort you should take to protect your family and yourself knowing that you have preparation choices available today that will disappear when Covid 19 spreads.

4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of S.F.'s Department of Emergency Management,

"It's all about preparedness. The most overlooked part about preparedness is looking out for your neighbors, your friends, your family. We know the elderly are at most risk of getting sick from this disease."

1 person likes this
Posted by Scout
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2020 at 1:05 pm

If my math is correct, approx. 3 out of 80 people have been dying from the coronavirus. (Most likely the elderly, those with autoimmune challenges, and probably babies with little immunity build-up.) My figures are based on ... if we can trust the numbers coming out of China and worldwide news. How many people are lying dead in their homes that we don't know about, yet? If this does break out into a pandemic, there will not be enough respirator equipment for everyone. How is China dealing with getting food to everyone? Can this virus be transmitted by pee, etc.? Supposedly dogs can't get it(?), but they can pass it on to human hosts with their nose and tongue (if they come in contact with the virus.)

13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2020 at 1:12 pm

"Just in case I’ll save this link and come back in 3 months and say “I told you so”."

Why not copy it in your will, with instructions to post it on a certain date? Just in case.

1 person likes this
Posted by Scout
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I've just finished reading Brit's recent experience at the airport. How abominable! Obviously,the airport terminal check-ins and arrivals are not doing enough in the way of precautions. Public travel looks to be so risky! I was also thinking, what can the airlines do to disinfect their planes and terminal seating from infectious persons? Just breathing in the plane air that gets circulated to everyone is a huge health risk. // In 1918 my mother's family lost 2 out of a family of 8 people to the flu pandemic. Both the 1 and 2 year-old died. This was in a small town in the Midwest where travel was not very rampant.

1 person likes this
Posted by Do the Math
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm


If your point is that catching pneumonia (a bacterial infection) while fighting off Corona virus or vice versa is dangerous, yes it is.

2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 28, 2020 at 2:05 pm

RE 1918 - this was the era of WW1 and the fall of the empires - Ottoman in Europe. People were at war and running all over the place. Many ended up in America, Latin America and Mexico. Europe was broken down and bomb shelled. It was a nasty time.

If you look at the world today a majority of the other continent countries are filled with internal strife. People are rioting and trying to flee their countries of birth.
Not good. A lot of work here is required to control this disease.

2 people like this
Posted by Covid
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:12 pm

@Do the Math

This may help you .....
Web Link

6 people like this
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm

"Since when did Democrats become the party of doomsday? "

Says the guy who went through 8 years of republican SHRIEKING during Obama.

2 people like this
Posted by Covid
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:49 pm

@Do the math said “ ....catching pneumonia (a bacterial infection) while fighting off Corona virus “

You’re sadly misinformed.

“ Pneumonia is a lung disease characterized by inflammation of the airspaces in the lungs, most commonly due to an infection. Pneumonia may be caused by viral infections, bacterial infections, or fungi; less frequently by other causes. “

6 people like this
Posted by Stahp
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 9:09 pm


[Portion removed.]

You said pneumonia had a “30% fatality rate”. This is absolutely, 100%, fully false. [Portion removed.] 30% of those who are hospitalized with *severe* pneumonia die. 5-10% of those who are *hospitalized at all* with pneumonia will die. The *vast* majority of those who contract pneumonia *obviously* do not die. [Portion removed.]

The “flu mortality rate” everyone quotes is actually *combined* influenza and pneumonia given the latter is very frequently a secondary condition. And that *combined* morality rate is *.1%*

8 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2020 at 10:57 pm

The petty bickering and politicking in every story about coronavirus is pathetic.

1 person likes this
Posted by MommaA
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 29, 2020 at 7:20 pm

Does anyone know what the plan is for school age kids if they have to will the districts continue education?

2 people like this
Posted by Casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 29, 2020 at 7:53 pm

To put Covid-19 into perspective, have you heard that for this flu season in the U.S., "the CDC has recorded at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths from flu — 125 of which were children, according to data ending the week of Feb. 22." Why aren't we worried about this?

2 people like this
Posted by Casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 29, 2020 at 8:37 pm

How Does the Coronavirus Compare to the Flu?
Web Link
A helpful article

3 people like this
Posted by @Casti
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2020 at 4:19 am

The difference between flu and corona virus covid19 as I have read so far:

Without arguing exact numbers, the novel corona virus causes death at a rate about two orders of magnitude greater than the flu.

If someone is contagious, the corona virus appears to get more people sick on average.

We do not have a vaccine for covid-19, we do for the flu (it’s not too late to get this season’s flu vaccine if you haven’t yet).

Covid19 doesn’t seem to have the nasal symptoms that precede flu that give a kind of heads up to take care.

Correct me if I’m wrong but someone can be infected and contagious for two weeks with covid19 before showing symptoms.

Covid19 is an emerging infectious disease for which the CDC has already had to alter its definition because of the consequences of missing cases.

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