Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a possible first case of person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in California in the general public. The individual is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical care in Sacramento County. The individual had no known exposure to the virus either through travel or close contact with a known infected individual.
This would be the first known instance of person-to-person transmission in the general public in the United States. Despite this new case, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) states in a press release that the health risk from novel coronavirus to the general public remains low at this time and that California is carefully assessing the situation as it evolves.
The Nevada County Public Health Department would like to remind the public that while COVID-19 is a real public health threat, there are no local cases and the immediate risk to the general population is low, so now is the ideal time to plan and prepare for the potential of a heightened public health threat. The virus may be novel, but the best way to prepare is not new and the recommended prevention strategies have proven successful in slowing the spread of disease. Here is a list of things everyone can do to protect themselves and the community against respiratory illness:
✓ Stay home when you are sick.
✓ Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
✓ Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then toss the tissue in the trash.
✓ Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth especially with unwashed hands.
✓ Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
✓ Get a flu vaccine to prevent influenza if you haven’t already done so this flu season.
✓ Keep your distance from people who are sick, especially if they have a respiratory virus.
For people who are well, wearing a face mask is not on the list of recommended practices to prevent infection. While they can be effective in preventing the spread of disease if worn by someone who is infected with a virus, they are not currently recommended to protect oneself from becoming sick.
Although there are no local cases and the immediate risk is low, planning now will lead to better preparedness during an actual event. Now is a good time to consider how you might adjust if your daily routine is disrupted by an outbreak.
• Can your work from home?
• What are your transportation plans if public transportation is disrupted?
• If schools are closed, do you have an alternate plan for childcare?
We encourage you to consider these and other similar questions in order to enhance your readiness, as well as our community’s readiness.
In addition to sharing information with our community, Nevada County Public Health is planning with County departments and community partners. As COVID-19 has spread, Public Health is preparing for the possibility of local, sustained community transmission. Local health care providers have received alerts so that community providers know what to look for and how to handle a suspect case. Public Health has reached out to health care facilities, schools, and others to discuss what their planning efforts may include and share recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, which are actions that individuals and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses.
Accurate information can help reduce fears. This situation remains an emerging and rapidly evolving one, so with this in mind, it is important to check reliable sources for the latest accurate information on COVD-19 as. For regular and reliable updates in English and Spanish visit CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Our combined efforts across our community will help to slow the spread of fear and illness.
2/26/20: Media release
The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the media and of concern to many, so the Nevada County Public Health Department created a new “News and Updates” tab on our website (https://www.mynevadacounty.com/551/Public-Health), in an effort to keep the community better informed and to offer links to sites that offer regular and reliable updates.
While COVID-19 should be recognized as a serious public health concern, we want to remind everyone that as of February 25, 2020, there has been no known community transmission of the virus in the U.S. Those in the U.S. who have been infected with the virus were either exposed in China or have been very close contacts of those who are ill. So, while the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people in the U.S. remains low, and seasonal flu currently is a more immediate threat to individual and community health.
As the virus continues to spread globally, we have begun to start planning for the possibility of local, sustained community transmission. We have begun outreach and will continue to do so to health care facilities, the business community, schools and others to discuss what their planning efforts may include, and share with them recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, which are actions that individuals and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses.
As a reminder, you can help to keep yourself and others safe from illness by washing your hands frequently and staying home when you’re sick.
To keep track of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 issue, please check the California Department of Public Health and the CDC websites that regularly post updates in English and Spanish at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
1/28/20: Media Release
Due to recent inquiries and to promote the health and safety of Nevada County residents, the Nevada County Public Health Department is closely monitoring the recent coronavirus outbreak in China.
There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nevada County. The new coronavirus called 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan, China. It has spread in China and has been detected in multiple other countries including several cases in the United States.
The current threat to the general public who have not traveled to China is considered low. However, it is important that people keep informed about this rapidly evolving situation. To keep track of the rapidly evolving 2019-nCoV virus, please check:
- California Department of Public Health website: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx
- CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses and this strain had not been previously identified. Reported illnesses in confirmed cases have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the situation very closely, and the CDC now recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. Multiple airports in the US are screening travelers arriving from China and any ill passengers receive additional evaluation and non-ill passengers are given information on steps to take if they do become ill.
Right now, there has not been community transmission of this virus in the California. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent against 2019-nCoV nor a specific treatment. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. In addition to following travel advisories, one can:
- avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and
- wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Many people have seen photos from China that show lots of people wearing face (surgical) masks. There is not good evidence that face masks prevent the public from being infected by viruses; however, wearing a mask may serve as a reminder not to touch your mouth and nose. Health care workers frequently wear N95 respirators that have been fit-tested for them. These respirators have not been tested for effectiveness when worn by the general public so there is not current evidence to support a general recommendation for their widespread use.
If you have traveled to China and develop fever and/or a cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days of travel or have been in close contact with someone ill who has been in China recently, please contact your doctor to tell them about symptoms and, importantly, about recent travel. The doctor can then give instructions on steps to take before a medical visit, take appropriate precautions to reduce the chance of spreading illness to others, and consult with your local Public Health department.
As a reminder, we are still in the midst of flu season, and getting the flu shot can help prevent the flu and its serious complications.