Los Angeles County declared a health emergency Wednesday after officials said they found six new cases of the coronavirus over the past two days.
Officials confirmed that of the six new cases, none were connected to community spread. Three of those infected had recently traveled to northern Italy, which has experienced an outbreak, and two new cases involved family members who were in close contact with another family member with the virus residing outside Los Angeles County.
The final case was found in a person whose job at the time exposed them to travelers from other countries who may have been infectious. Of the six patients, one person is hospitalized and five are isolated at home.
“I have just signed a proclamation declaring the existence of a local emergency. I want to reiterate that this is not a response rooted in panic,” Kathryn Barger, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said at a press conference.
The emergency declaration is intended to boost preparation efforts against further coronavirus cases and will allow the county government to request additional aid from the state if local resources run low. The county is also increasing its ability to test for the virus at a local public health laboratory, and officials will begin conducting radio briefings for the public.
“We have to be prepared. We have to protect the well-being of our loved ones and our neighbors,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D).
County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the county declared the emergency “to allow us to further draw down resources from both the federal and state level of government” and warned against the spread of misinformation regarding the virus.
“The last thing we want is more fear in our community,” she said at the press conference. “Fear will not drive our responses to save lives.”
Los Angeles County had an earlier case of coronavirus. The patient recovered and was discharged.
San Francisco and Santa Clara County have also declared health emergencies.
Washington state has had the most coronavirus cases in the country. There have been 128 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and nine people have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.