1st COVID-19 death reported in San Bernardino County, where confirmed cases have more than doubled this week

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This scanning electron microscope image shows coronavirus emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. (Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

This scanning electron microscope image shows coronavirus emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. (Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Health officials on Tuesday announced the first coronavirus-related death in San Bernardino County, where confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased by 111% in the past two days.

The person who died was a 50-year-old man with underlying health conditions, according to a news release from the county Department of Public Health.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, officials confirmed another seven local cases, bringing the total to 38. The county had said it expected the number to climb as results rolls in from more widespread testing.

Dr. Erin Gustafson, the county’s acting health officer, said it’s clear the virus is spreading broadly throughout the community.

“Everyone should assume that anyone could have COVID-19 and unintentionally infect others,” Gustafson said in a statement. “Therefore, we are appealing to everyone who possibly can to stay safe at home.”

Under a statewide order issued last Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, everyone in California must remain at home unless venturing out for vital goods, or going to an essential job.

Curt Hagman, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, said the death illustrates the importance of public safety orders “to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe.”

The county reported its first case on March 15, and three days ordered the closure of businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms.

County officials provided no further information about the new cases Tuesday but warned locals to heed precautions. Anyone over age 65 shouldn’t leave the house at all, authorities said.

For resources and general information on the outbreak, San Bernardino County residents can call the COVID-19 hotline at 909-387-3911, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those who feel sick should contact their doctor or call 911.

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