By Mike Kinney
Contra Costa County is reporting three new coronavirus cases, including two patients who were passengers on the Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess cruise ship located about 70 miles off the California coast. A third case was known to have had close contact with a COVID-19 patient in another jurisdiction.
On Thursday, a California National Guard helicopter transported test samples of coronavirus cases from the cruise ship, where 45 passengers and crew out of over 3,500 onboard have tested positive, to the Richmond Fire Department training facility at S. 33rd Street and Cutting Boulevard. The testing kits were then brought via ambulance to be evaluated at the California Dept. of Public Health Lab off Interstate Highway 580 and Marina Bay Parkway.
City of Richmond officials debunked online reports that the cruise ship was ever docked in Richmond. The DPH lab in Richmond is “one of the locations throughout the country where test kits are being processed to help ensure the public is receiving information in the fastest ways possible,” city officials added. The lab was activated for coronavirus testing one month ago.
This afternoon, Contra Costa County Health Services plans to hold a press conference to update the public on the three newly identified patients who have the novel coronavirus, all of whom are in isolation at their homes, the County said.
Meanwhile, officials are encouraging residents to prevent the spread the coronavirus by frequently washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and, if you are sick, to stay away from work, school or other public locations.
CCHS is recommending that people who are higher risk from COVID-19, including adults over 50 and people with certain underlying medical conditions, avoid mass gatherings, such as parades, sporting events or concerts.
For more information, visit the visit the Contra Costa Health Services website here.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to indicate a National Guard helicopter, not one operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, was used to transport test kits from the cruise ship to Richmond.