Local health and school officials responding to coronavirus concerns
Published - 03/05/20 - 07:00 AM | 2994 views | 9 9 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As concern over the coronavirus builds, City, County health officials are addressing the situation and informing residents what they can do to guard against exposure.

“San Diego County has made swift and significant efforts to deal with the COVID-19 threat, by working with federal and state agencies to care for travelers suspected of having the virus,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. “We have successfully protected the residents of San Diego County, as well as those suspected of having the virus.”

County officials recently declared a local health emergency effective for seven days. The Board of Supervisors subsequently took action to extend that declaration for another 30 days and can vote to extend it yet again.

“The declaration empowers the County to more effectively respond to COVID-19, seek mutual aid and ensure the County has all the necessary tools at their disposal,” said County Chief Medical Officer Nick Yphantides.

As of March 2, a total of 141 people in San Diego County were under public health supervision because they are at risk of having been exposed to coronavirus, County health officials said.

Presently there are two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in San Diego. Both patients were in isolation among more than 200 who were quarantined at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after being evacuated from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. 

One patient was discharged recently after recovering fully. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff cleared the patient after rigorous testing to confirm the recovery and lack of contagiousness, officials said.

 San Diego Unified and other local school districts have addressed the coronavirus by sending out letters to parents. SDUSD’s letter is advocating that residents follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides for keeping children and staff with respiratory symptoms and fever at home for at least 24 hours and excluding anyone from school who has been to China within the past 14 days who is showing symptoms.

“If any student or staff member in this district is suspected to have the virus for the Novel Coronavirus, the school district will work with public health authorities who will collaborate with that student’s or staff member’s own physician to guide any further restrictions and public notifications,” said SDUSD in its letter.  

The coronavirus, now present on every continent except Antarctica, has infected nearly 90,000 people, killing more than 3,000 worldwide, mostly in China, according to the New York Times.

Even local students are reacting to the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese Union, a nonprofit organization at the University of California San Diego, has spearheaded a fundraising campaign benefiting Chinese communities struggling with the outbreak.

“We have always done fundraising, and we are a service-oriented student group,” Pei-Yun Tsai, a principal member of the Chinese Union said. “When we heard reports that some hospitals are running out of medical necessities, we felt the need to do something to help.”

The Chinese Union has raised more than $17,500 to help purchase medical supplies for hospitals in the Hubei province (the province home to Wuhan), and the neighboring Henan province. With the funds, the students have already purchased thousands of protective coveralls, medical goggles and face masks for several hospitals in the two provinces.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronaviruses can be transmitted between people, and also between animals and people.

Common coronavirus symptoms, which appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent virus infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Most importantly, avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. 

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

How to prevent coronavirus exposure:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others, particularly care providers ministering to patients in close quarters. 

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the restroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

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April 29, 2020
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