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Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) reported the second death in the county related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Friday, March 27.

At the same time, CCHS reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 151, up 20 cases from the prior day. Since March 22, the number of confirmed instances of COVID-19 has been growing by almost 20% per day. At that rate, the number of cases doubles about every four days.

CCHS has, so far, not released any information regarding the second victim.

This death comes a little more than a week after the first fatality in the county was reported. In that case, a resident in their 70s died March 19 in an unspecified hospital. That victim, according to CCHS, had a pre-existing condition that put them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and had recently traveled overseas. During a press conference to discuss the fatality, Contra Costa Health Officer Chris Farnitano said the patient had traveled to Europe but declined to specify the locations visited and the date the victim returned to the area, citing patient privacy concerns.

“This death underscores the urgent need for all Contra Costa residents to follow the stay-at-home order and practice social distancing,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the board of Contra Costa supervisors of the county’s first COVID-19 death.

To help slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Thursday, March 19. It superseded a similar order issued in six Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa, which took effect just two days earlier. The governor’s order requires residents to stay home unless performing a critical task like food shopping, doctor visits or veterinary visits. Residents employed by an essential business are encouraged by the order to continue performing that work while taking appropriate precautions, including frequent hand washing and staying more than six feet away from others whenever possible. The order does not specify an end date.

“We do, unfortunately, anticipate more deaths,” Farnitano said during the March 20 press conference. “As we’ve seen in other parts of the country and throughout the world, we’re at the start of this epidemic here in Contra Costa County. We know the efforts that other countries have put in to do social distancing, and sheltering in place take awhile to take effect. We also know as we ramp up testing, we’re going to identify more cases. So unfortunately, we do expect the number of both cases and deaths to go up before they go down.”

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