Santa Monica Declares Health Emergency; Local Apple Worker Is First Case

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SANTA MONICA (CNS) - The city of Santa Monica has declared a local public health emergency in the wake of the similar declarations by county, state and federal officials and just a day after it was announced that a worker at the Apple Store on the Third Street Promenade tested positive for coronavirus,

Meanwhile, Apple announced overnight that it is closing all of its stores outside of China -- including at least 20 in Southern California -- until March 27.

The Santa Monica Proclamation, issued late Friday by City Manager Rick Cole, cites the city's 90,000 residents, its status as a major tourist and business destination and proximity to the city of Los Angeles as factors making it likely there will be more cases there in the coming days.

“Coronavirus is almost certainly coming to Santa Monica,” the proclamation says in part. “The spread of the coronavirus underscores our increased interconnectedness and why we are not immune to a global pandemic.

“Santa Monica will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with L.A. County Department of Public Health to implement all recommended public health measures as directed. Santa Monica has an all-hazards plan for all emergency events and has plans in place for pandemic events.”

The Santa Monica Apple store employee received ad positive diagnosis on Thursday, company officials said, but had not worked since March 2 while at home caring for a sick relative. Still as a precaution, the store underwent a deep cleaning before opening Friday.

But overnight, Apple issued a statement announcing plans to close all of its stores for two weeks.

“Apple's first priority -- now and always -- is the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities we serve,” the statement said. It cited the company's experience with stores in China, where early cases of the disease were first noted in late December and what it learned from the experience.

“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus's transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we're taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

While the stores are closed, officials said each would undergo deep cleaning and have new health and temperature screenings installed.

Employees will continue to be paid and will have additional options for taking extra time off. Consumers will be able to obtain customer service by telephone and online.

Photo: Getty Images

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