In addition to several more newly identified cases in the Bay Area, public health officials confirmed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Alameda County this weekend.
The patient is currently in isolation at home and awaiting test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.
A presumptive positive case is a patient who has tested positive by a public health laboratory and pending confirmation by the CDC. Reported to be a healthcare worker at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, ACPHD said the patient was exposed to the community-acquired case at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Another healthcare worker at the same facility who lives in Solano County was also exposed to the same case and is now under home quarantine as well.
“The health risk from novel coronavirus to the general public remains low, and while COVID-19 has a high transmission rate, it has a low mortality rate,” ACPHD said in a statement issued on their website. “Alameda County continues to monitor the community for possible cases, and it is likely that there will be more cases identified in the Bay Area, and person-to-person spread could occur.”
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common among humans and animals, causing mild to moderate respiratory illness. The novel coronavirus that has been circulating for more than a month is a newly discovered strain that was previously undetected in animals and people.
Symptoms are very similar to the flu and include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, appearing to cause less severe illness in younger people. In some rare cases, coronavirus can cause severe illness or even be fatal, particularly for older individuals with existing medical conditions, but most people with common coronavirus infections usually recover on their own, according to the CDC.
According to the California Department of Public Health, there are a total of 40 positive cases in the state as of Sunday including three new cases announced that same day in Santa Clara County. Of those 40 cases, 24 are from repatriation flights; the other 16 confirmed cases include nine related to travel, two caused by person-to-person exposure from family contact, another two from person-to-person exposure in a healthcare facility and three from unknown sources.
Around 300 people in California have been tested to date; ACPHD said they are working closely with other public health agencies and “preparing for an increase in disease investigation, monitoring, mitigation, and community outreach and education activities.”
The cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore also continue to receive regular updates while sending reminders and educating the public about preventing the spread of COVID-19. Pleasanton Unified School District is also taking extra sanitary precautions for all 15 of their school sites.
“As a preventative measure, the district’s custodial staff will provide additional cleaning, disinfecting on high touchpoints around our schools like doorknobs, elevator buttons, countertops, student desks and handrails,” said Superintendent David Haglund in a message to the community.
“The district will ensure that all soap and hand sanitizer dispensers remain full for all students and staff to use regularly" he continued. "We will continue to keep staff, students and families updated with new information that we receive related to the health and safety of our district students and staff.”
On Friday, the state Department of Public Health announced that new CDC test kits used to detect COVID-19 are now available in California to do community diagnostic testing, helping to better protect public health by identifying and treating cases and tracing locations of possible exposure.
The state will receive another shipment of kits to test upwards of 1,200 people; California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said, "The availability to test at California's public health laboratories is a significant step forward in our ability to respond rapidly to this evolving situation.”
Health officials including the World Health Organization (WHO) are reminding people that wearing surgical and N95 masks are not effective against the transmission of COVID-19, and that the virus does not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
Officials are advising people to do the following:
* Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds.
* Avoid touching your face including eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Stay home if you are sick.
* Cover your cough or sneeze.
* If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
ACPHD also has regular updates on its website including from the CDC, WHO and CADPH: http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov/resources.aspx.