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Gov Newsom hesitant to declare a state of emergency for coronavirus

GOVENOR GAVIN NEWSOM IN PALM SPRINGS
Gov Gavin Newsom speaking at a Palm Springs elementary school (2/28/20)

California Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Palm Springs elementary school Friday morning to discuss Proposition 13, however, coronavirus is always a topic on everyone's minds.

54 Riverside County residents are under self-quarantine due to having possibly been exposed to the coronavirus. County officials tell News Channel 3 the people were in China but are not showing any symptoms so far.

Earlier this week, a county resident who was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus. They are being treated out of the county and are expected to recover. There remains no cases of coronavirus in Riverside County.

Across the state, Health officials confirmed there is now a second case of coronavirus in a person not known to have previous contact. The first case was out of Solano County, the second in Santa Clara County.

In a news conference at Vista del Monte Elementary School on Friday, Gov. Newsom said California is prepared if the virus spreads but unlike many communities, he hesitates to declare a state of emergency.

"It's when we feel we need to do two things above and beyond anything else: Number one, generate public attention and focus," he said. "Number two, it's around drawing down funding sources. At the moment I am confident those funding sources will be forthcoming."

Several California communities have already declared local health emergencies, allowing them to step up preparedness. This echoes the growing concern of federal health officials, who say further spread of the virus in the US is expected.

"If it's not about money and it's not about our capacity to deliver quality services and focus on prevention and mitigation then it more is about something else. So I hesitate [to issue an emergency declaration]."

Meanwhile, at least 54 people in Riverside County are under self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus. The mayor of Palm Springs, Geoff Kors, said local officials are closely monitoring all developments.

"I think we're as prepared as we can be. We have great hospitals here, and they're all on top of this," Kors said.

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Peter Daut

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