Santa Clara County declares coronavirus emergency

FILE: This undated handout photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a microscopic view of the Coronavirus at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the CDC the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Santa Clara County has declared a local emergency over coronavirus outbreak, even as public health officials say the risk to the general public is still low.

But as of Monday, two cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Santa Clara County. In both cases, the individuals traveled to Wuhan, China where the virus originated. 

Also, on Monday, the Board of Supervisors approved the emergency declaration, which is largely a beauracratic move that allows the county to leverage state funds and mutual aid resources if more cases of the virus are confirmed in the South Bay. The board’s action extends the emergency declaration by another 30 days.

“The declaration and proclamation do not signify any increase in risk to the residents of Santa Clara County. These actions empower the County to more effectively respond to the outbreak, seek and utilize mutual aid, potentially obtain reimbursement, and ensure that the County’s public health professionals have all necessary tools at their disposal to keep the community safe,” the Public Health Department said in a statement.

In Southern California, 200 evacuees prepared Tuesday to end their two-week quarantine at a Southern California military base where they have been living since flying out of China during a deadly viral outbreak.

None of those who flew into March Air Reserve Base tested positive for the novel coronavirus, health authorities said, although one evacuee at another base had been found to have the highly infectious virus and was in hospital isolation.

The group, which includes children, arrived from China Jan. 29, taking chartered flights from Wuhan. The locked-down city of 11 million is the epicenter of the virus that has claimed more than 1,000 lives overseas.

In the United States, there have been only 13 confirmed cases, including seven in California, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.