There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monterey County, Public Health Officer Edward Moreno announced at 2:30pm on Tuesday, March 17. The patients are in quarantine at home.

That patients are believed to have become ill while traveling internationally. Officials are not saying where in the county their samples were collected.

It was only a matter of time that Monterey County would discover cases of COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Cases have been growing in California since the first one was confirmed in Orange County on Jan. 25, which was the third confirmed case in the U.S.

Santa Clara County to the north of Monterey County has been hit hardest in the state with 138 confirmed cases and four deaths as of March 17. The state total as of that date is 472 cases and 11 deaths.

The Monterey County Health Department began facilitating the collection of specimens from suspected cases beginning Jan. 21 and only collected 10 total between that date and March 5, according to a press release issued March 16.

On March 6, the county's public health lab began testing specimens using a test kit sent by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. As of March 16 the total number of people tested was 96, with 80 negative results and 16 pending. That kit can test approximately 300 patients, the Health Department reports.

Earlier in the day on March 17, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors met in closed session and issued a shelter-in-place order that will take effect tonight at midnight.

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bernard cleyet

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