Coronavirus pandemic: 1st COVID-19 death reported in Contra Costa County

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Contra Costa County announced the first COVID-19 death on Friday. The patient was in their 70's, had a condition that placed them at-risk and had recently traveled to Europe.

They are not releasing any more information about the person, not even gender. But officials did say they expect this to get worse in Contra Costa County before it gets better.

"We do unfortunately anticipate more deaths," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county's health officer. "As we have seen in other parts of the country and world, we are at the start of this epidemic in Contra Costa County. We know efforts in social distancing and sheltering at home that other countries have put in place take a while to take effect," he said.

Dr. Farnitano said this death highlights the urgent need to follow the order for social distancing, saying this is dangerous for older adults with medical conditions.

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He said as of right now, the county has enough beds and ventilators. But he said they are still trying to secure more as they prepare for a possible surge in patients.

Board of Supervisors Chairperson Candace Andersen was at the press briefing. She was asked about people playing golf this weekend or hiking on congested trails. Andersen said it is up to each city to enforce the order and decide if activities like golfing are allowed, but said everything you do needs to be six feet from other people.

She also said if staying at home is presenting mental health concerns or other needs, people can call 211 for help.

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She said she recognizes the stay at home order is disruptive, but says they would not ask people to do it if they didn't think it was important.

Dr. Farnitano said as the county ramps-up testing, he expects there to be more cases of novel coronavirus. But he said that does not mean they are losing ground, but rather "sharpening our focus and gathering data to help us through this emergency," he said.

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