Long Beach health officials on Saturday, March 14, reported its fifth case of the new coronavirus — its first via community spread.
A woman in her 60s was diagnosed with COVID-19, despite having no known exposure to anyone else with the coronavirus or travel to an area that has had community transmission, Long Beach reported in a statement Saturday afternoon. She is in the hospital.
Community spread is when an illness expands within a given area from an unknown source.
“This case highlights the need for continued vigilance and preparation,” City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a statement Saturday, “especially for those at higher risk of severe illness and those with underlying health conditions.”
COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms associated with the respiratory disease, which appear two-to-14 days after exposure, include fever, a cough and shortness of breath. While most people — including healthy young adults — will experience mild symptoms, the disease can be severe and possibly fatal for at-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with other health problems.
News of Long Beach’s fifth case came hours after Los Angeles County announced 11 new cases — bringing the total to 53 — two of which had unidentified sources. It wasn’t immediately clear if the county’s updated number included Long Beach’s newly confirmed case.
“Community spread can indicate that people are more likely to be exposed to the virus,” Long Beach said in its statement. “However, it does not concretely define an increase in cases.”
The Health Department, the city said, is investigating the woman’s exposure location and date.
Long Beach’s statement also urged folks to work to prevent the virus from spreading further, by practicing self-distancing, washing their hands frequently, regularly disinfecting “high-touch” surfaces, and covering coughs and sneezes.
“We want all residents to know that the city is taking strong and proactive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “It’s important to prepare, check in on family and friends, and show compassion towards neighbors.”
Long Beach this week banned all events and gatherings of more than 250 people through April, including the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. And on Friday, Long Beach Unified School District announced it would temporarily shutter schools.
“The closure is an extra measure of protection to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19,” a message on LBUSD’s website said Friday.
This story is breaking and will be updated.