Long Beach officials announced late last week that the city now has test kits for the virus causing the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19.
During a press conference Friday, March 13, City officials announced Long Beach school closures and major-event cancellations.
Mayor Robert Garcia said during the conference that Long Beach has four positive cases of the illness with more being tested. That number was upped to five on Saturday when officials announced the first transmission of the virus within the community.
The fifth patient, a woman in her 60s, is hospitalized and in stable condition, according to a preliminary statement by the City’s Joint Information Center (JIC) Saturday.
Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said during the Friday press conference that the City is currently testing people in public health labs who’ve been referred by healthcare professionals.
“If you have symptoms such as coughing, fever or difficulty breathing, we ask that you call— rather than first go visit— your healthcare provider, immediately,” she said.
Those who don’t have health insurance and who suspect they have the disease should call the COVID-19 information line at (562) 570-4636 to be directed to a medical-outreach team, Davis said.
Those who are sick should stay home and those who are well should avoid contact with those who are sick, Davis stressed.
“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds— and you should actually count,” Davis said. “Avoid touching your eyes, your nose, your mouth with unwashed hands.”
The health department is continuing to trace the whereabouts and close contacts of patients while they were infectious, Davis added. It is also monitoring healthcare workers who may have been exposed.
Saturday’s new case raises the possibility that the virus may spread to others within the community, according to JIC’s preliminary statement.
“Community spread can indicate that people are more likely to be exposed to the virus,” it said. “However, it does not concretely define an increase in cases.”
Besides maintaining personal hygiene practices, the City urges everyone to practice social distancing, including avoiding crowds of people and keeping at least six feet of distance from others.
“This case highlights the need for continued vigilance and preparation, especially for those at higher risk of severe illness and those with underlying health conditions,” Davis stated Saturday.
The City also encouraged each household to have a family action plan, including choosing a room in the house that can be used to separate sick members, with access to medications, food and other essentials.
In addition, households should create an emergency-contact list of family, friends, neighbors, delivery services and community resources.
“Reach out to elderly family members and neighbors,” the City stated. “Ensure they have what they need.”