A third case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Alameda County was confirmed on Friday afternoon, according to county health officials.
The Alameda County Public Health Department reported the new virus-positive case but did not disclose the specific location within the county.
This marked the third case confirmed across Alameda County, including an earlier one announced in ACPHD's jurisdiction and a second in the city of Berkeley, which has its own separate Public Health Division.
“While over 80% of people with COVID-19 have mild disease, we can and should prepare for this new virus to gain a foothold in our county, and we should work together to slow the spread of disease and protect our most vulnerable populations.” said county health officer Dr. Erica Pan.
“While information continues to evolve, persons who are at higher risk for severe disease include the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions should consider avoiding mass gathering,” Pan added.
The new case announced Friday involves a patient who is an older adult with underlying medical conditions who was aboard a Grand Princess cruise ship from Feb. 11-21 that developed other known cases of COVID-19, according to county officials.
“The patient is currently hospitalized with appropriate infection control precautions, and their family members are in quarantine,” said Neetu Balram, public information manager for ACPHD.
“While this individual was exposed outside of Alameda County, there is increasing evidence of community transmission in the Bay Area, and we are prepared for and expect that we will see more cases in Alameda County in the coming day,” Balram added.
Elsewhere in the county, a Grand Princess cruise ship quarantined at sea was scheduled to dock at the Port of Oakland starting Monday to off-load crew and passengers -- 21 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.
Last weekend two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by ACPHD officials. One patient is a Berkeley resident and the other lives in an undisclosed part of the county; both individuals are reported to be currently recovering under home quarantine.
Earlier this week, an employee at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory learned they may have been exposed to the virus, which causes mild to moderate respiratory illness in most people who contract it but can be more dangerous for residents with certain underlying conditions.
LLNL spokesperson Lynda Seaver said the employee was "asymptomatic when reporting and continues to experience no symptoms," but that the laboratory is continuing to monitor the situation.
"We don't know that this employee really has coronavirus," said spokesperson Lynda Seaver. "What happened is the employee had a high risk exposure and wasn't informed for some time. When that employee was informed, they realized there were some symptoms related to coronavirus and, out of caution, we reported to the lab."
Extra precautions were taken to sanitize the building where the employee was assigned on Thursday and the other workers stayed home that day but are expected to return next week. Seaver said the laboratory is "still working here and we're still open, so to speak, although we've suspended business travel and we're limiting the visits that come into the lab, and these again are out of precaution."
There still remain no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Tri-Valley, but one Pleasanton student and their family are in home isolation after a family member may have been exposed to a potential case.
Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund told the Weekly that the ACPHD had confirmed as of 5 p.m. Thursday, no students, faculty or staff had tested positive for COVID-19.
The parent of a Valley View Elementary School student informed the district on Thursday that a relative may have come into contact with a presumptive, but unconfirmed, case of COVID-19 at their work, according to Haglund. Other students in the classroom were relocated to the rest of the school day and district staff disinfected the classroom and all shared spaces "out of an abundance of caution," Haglund said.
The student and their family will quarantine themselves at home for the next 14 days, according to ACPHD.
In the meantime, Haglund said some parents have "inquired about home-based learning options due to the fear of contracting the virus at school," an option that he said is available to families.
"While we believe that school is often the safest place for students during a crisis like this, we would not inhibit a parent's ability to do what they feel is in their child's best interests," Haglund said. "If a parent chooses to keep a child at home, we will ask them to notify the school office in a timely manner, so we can assist the parent with supporting the child with age-appropriate learning opportunities at home. This process is similar to how parents would assist a child with their work, any other time the child is not in school."
As for how the district plans to respond in the event that a student or staff member is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, Haglund said, "the ACPHD would direct the dismissal of the impacted school" but no other campuses.
"As much as possible, and until we receive information from ACPHD that suggests otherwise, it is my intention to keep PUSD schools open so that children can carry on with their education and engage in safe and appropriate activities," he added.
As for after-school activities like sports tournaments, Haglund said, "We are meeting with our site leaders to discuss a plan that makes sense. As of this moment, we have not determined a need to cancel events. Santa Clara County Schools have done so. So, the decisions of others who may be experiencing a direct impact of the virus in the community may impact our student activities."
The Amador Valley Wind Ensemble was scheduled for an activity in Saratoga this weekend, but that event was canceled by the Santa Clara County Office of Education on Friday.
One reader contacted the Weekly with reports about patients at Stanford-ValleyCare Hospital in Pleasanton with the virus, but ValleyCare officials said on Thursday they "do not provide information on patients with suspected conditions" and county officials said that same day no new cases had been confirmed.
On Friday, another reader shared photos with alarm after seeing outdoor tents at ValleyCare, but hospital spokesperson Denise Bouillerce said it was just a test.
Bouillerce said staff "tested the functionality of a large tent that could be used for a variety of purposes, including as an external triage area." She added that the hospital is "taking steps to ensure we're prepared to evaluate and care for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19."
The Zone 7 Water Agency assured the public on their website that "this virus has no impact on the safety or supply of your drinking water," and that "Zone 7 potable (drinking) water meets, and in most cases exceeds all stringent state and federal drinking water requirements."
Health experts strongly recommend the public follows these steps to minimize their risk of COVID-19 transmission:
* Wash hands with liquid soap and water and rub for at least 20 seconds;
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
* Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
* Stay home when you are sick; and
* Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has similar symptoms to COVID19.
People who are healthy do not need to use a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. A face mask is recommended for those who are coughing or sneezing to protect others from getting sick.
ACPHD has a webpage dedicated to updates, advice and information about COVID-19 at http://acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx.
A 10-acre site at the Port of Oakland is being prepared and secured for the anticipated arrival of the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship and evacuations of passengers anticipated to start Monday will take two to three days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Sunday with city and state officials.
Officials said Friday that 46 aboard the ship were tested for the virus, and 21 were positive -- 19 of them crewmembers.
The exact time of the ship's arrival is still to be determined and working out the logistics involves "enormous complexity," including optimal timing for tide conditions for accommodating the massive ship.
The ship is currently 10 to 12 miles off shore, which will mean about a 2-1/2-hour trip "when we have the green light to come into the port," Newsom said.
There are more than 2,400 passengers and 1,100 crewmembers on the ship. The 946 passengers from California will be quarantined for two weeks at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.
Once the passengers have been removed, the ship and its crew will be quarantined outside the Bay, Newsom said.