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Rocklin resident is California's first coronavirus death

According to the Placer County Public Health Department, the deceased was an elderly adult with underlying health conditions.

PLACER COUNTY, Calif. — Update 3:55 p.m.

Health officials with Placer County, the state health department and the CDC offered more details on the death of a Rocklin resident who died after contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) Wednesday and outlined efforts to contain the virus.

The deceased was an elderly adult with underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Aimee Sissoon Placer County Health Officer. Sissoon said the individual began showing symptoms on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, while onboard a cruise traveling between San Francisco and Mexico. They returned to San Francisco Feb. 21 and then called 911 on Feb. 27, the same day they were admitted to Kaiser Permanente Roseville.    

“The specimen for testing was collected on March 1 and the results were provided to me by phone from the Sacramento County public health lab yesterday morning, March 3. The patient, unfortunately, passed away early this morning on March 4,” Sissoon said.

RELATED: Timeline | California's first coronavirus death

WATCH: Placer County coronavirus news conference:

When asked by ABC10 if there was a delay in testing the person for coronavirus, Sissoon said the individual didn’t initially present symptoms that would suggest COVID-19. 

“They did not have what we considered at the time to be at-risk travel exposures,” Sissoon said. “Mexico, cruises to Mexico were not on the list of at-risk places, but this person did eventually meet the expanded criteria, that changed last week, for persons without travel who had fever and respiratory symptoms to test if there was no other explanation for their condition and they were hospitalized.”

In California, there have been 53 individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus, 29 of those individuals were not related to repatriation. Of those, 12 were travel related, four were believed to be related to community transmission, three are still being investigated and 10 are believed to be person-to-person, including some health care workers, according to Dr. Charity Dean, assistant director of the California Department of Public Health.

“California has continued to emphasize the importance of testing,” Dean said. “As a local health jurisdiction conducts their contact investigation, the ability to quickly test a person to decide what risk level they have, if they test positive they need to be in isolation, that’s a key component of California’s ability to quickly meet this moment.”

There are 13 public health laboratories within California that have the ability to test thousands of cases, Dean said.  

“That’s part of our partnership with our local health departments...is supporting them and ensuring they get the quick test results that they’ll need,” Dean said.

Sissoon said as a result of their ongoing investigation into this case and other cruise ship passengers, there are other Placer County residents who are undergoing testing at Placer County hospitals and by the Placer County public health team. Sisson said test results are pending for at least six individuals.

Placer County Public Health is requesting any individuals who were local passengers on the cruise ship to self-quarantine, monitor themselves for symptoms and call the county public health department if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath.

“As a result of our ongoing investigation, I no longer believe the risk to the general public from COVID-19 in Placer County is low,” Sissoon said. “As health officer, I urge Placer County residents to be vigilant and to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19. Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands!” 


The first coronavirus death in California has been confirmed in Placer County, health officials say.

According to the Placer County Public Health Department, the deceased was an elderly adult with underlying health conditions. This person was just diagnosed presumptive positive for the illness on Tuesday, according to the health department.

“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.”

Officials say the patient, who has not been identified by name or gender, was probably exposed to coronavirus while on a cruise from San Francisco to Mexico sometime between Feb. 11 to Feb. 21.

Health officials say the patient was “critically ill” when they were diagnosed as being presumptive positive for coronavirus and was immediately isolated from other patients at Kaiser Permanente Roseville.

On Tuesday, Sisson told ABC10 that healthcare workers who were exposed to the now-deceased patient have also been quarantined.

“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,” Sisson said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the following statement after learning of the first coronavirus death in the state:

“Jennifer and I extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this death in Placer County. The state is working with federal officials to follow up on contact tracing of individuals that may have been exposed to provide treatment and protect public health. 

 "This case demonstrates the need for continued local, state and federal partnership to identify and slow the spread of this virus. California is working around the clock to keep our communities safe, healthy and informed.”

Senior Vice President and Area Manager for Kaiser Permanente Roseville, Jordan Herget, also released a statement on behalf of the hospital, saying in part, “We extend our sincere condolences to the patient’s family and loved ones… Out of respect for the family and privacy protections, we cannot provide additional information about this individual case.”

“We are working closely with the Placer County Health Department to ensure the safety of our employees and patients. This includes reaching out to some staff to discuss their amount of exposure to the patient before he was identified as a possible patient with COVID-19 and to determine if any monitoring or other action is necessary,” Herget added.

ABC10 learned three Rocklin Fire Department employees have also been quarantined after having contact with the deceased patient during a call on Feb. 27.

According to Michael Young with the Rocklin City Manager’s Office, the employees responded to a call regarding a “non-respiratory issue” with the patient before their presumptive positive diagnosis. The employees are being monitored, but so far none are showing symptoms of the illness.

“The Rocklin Fire Department has been preparing for local coronavirus cases and has taken necessary steps to limit exposure to staff,” Rocklin Fire Chief William Hack said. “The City and Fire Department are following federal, state and local health policies and remain ready to protect the citizens of Rocklin in an emergency.”

No other information about the employees is being shared in order to protect their privacy, Young said.

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.

More about coronavirus from ABC10:


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Placer County health officials talk first coronavirus death in California | RAW

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