Speaking outside Palm Springs City Hall, Riverside County health and elected officials Thursday sought to quell public concerns about the coronavirus, noting that plans for the Coachella Valley’s upcoming major music festivals are still moving forward.
The county’s health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, said there have not been any incidents of community spread of the illness in Southern California. County officials said they are mulling over a possible emergency declaration, as has been in done by the state and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, but no such decision has yet been made.
“If we do make an emergency declaration based on changes in local conditions, as a public health officer I do have the ability to shut down such large gatherings. We would do so with as much lead time as possible,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser made reference to the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, both set for next month in Indio. Last year, Coachella saw nearly 100,000 people attend per day.
Kaiser also noted that testing for coronavirus, or COVID-19, are being done at various locations around the state, negating the need to send samples across the country to be tested by federal agencies. County officials are in the process of getting a local laboratory up and running to test for the virus, he said.
Of the 80 documented cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, 12 of the patients are in Southern California, he said, although the cases have documented origins.
“That means we do not have any community acquired cases in the Southland currently,” Kaiser said. He noted that 51 recent travelers who returned to Riverside County are being monitored by health officials.
The news conference came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency following California’s first reported coronavirus-related death, making it the third state to declare an emergency in response to the disease.
About 3,250 people have died due to the virus globally.