2019 Novel Coronavirus: What you need to know

Tulare County Public Health Branch prepared for COVID-19

 VISALIA, CA– The Tulare County Public Health Branch is working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has learned a great deal about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help county residents prepare for the possibility of confirmed cases.

 “There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tulare County at this time, and immediate health risk to Tulare County residents is low,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer. “COVID-19 is considered an emerging disease, and there is more to learn about it; however, like influenza, it is a respiratory disease, and there are measures community members can all take to prevent illness.”

Steps to protect yourself from illness, including [widespread] influenza:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and avoid close contact with people who are sick (social distancing).
  • Cover your mouth or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu shot.

The community should be aware that there are other coronaviruses that cause cold-like symptoms. This new strain called COVID-19 is different and can only be identified by a special test.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 range from mild illness to severe illness and death. Symptoms include fever, cough that can worsen, and shortness of breath. The CDC indicates it believes, at this time, that symptoms can appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure. The incubation period appears to be similar to what we have previously seen with other coronaviruses (MERS/SARS).

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact (six feet) via respiratory droplets expelled when a person with the infection coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and be inhaled into the lungs. At this time, this is the main way the virus is thought to spread.

The droplets can also land on nearby surfaces that other people touch and are then spread when those persons touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes, though it is unknown at this time if this is another main way the virus spreads.

If someone is worried because they have traveled to an area of risk and are developing a fever or respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath or they have close contact with someone who has traveled to an area of risk, they should immediately contact the Public Health Communicable Disease telephone by calling 2-1-1. This will place them into contact with an individual who can help assess the situation and assist with any needed next steps.

Currently, there are several individuals in the county who are self-isolating due to having traveled to China. They have no symptoms, and the self-isolation is per the guidance from the CDC and CDPH.

The most important factor for citizens is to become informed and stay calm.

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