Coronavirus: COVID-19 patient transferred to San Mateo County

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Mateo County Office of Education is meeting with the health department and county school districts after a novel coronavirus patient was transferred to the county.

San Mateo County health officials want to stress that the threat of COVID-19 in California remains very low, however, they say what matters right now is making sure communities are prepared, especially schools.

The meeting will focus on reviewing protocols for schools in the event that novel coronavirus spreads in San Mateo County. That can range from the daily routines of custodial staff, to what parents should do if the child develops flu-like symptoms.

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Doctor Scott Murrow, a San Mateo County Health Officer, released a statement on Thursday: "I share the concerns of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): we all need to be prepared for COVID-19 to spread within the United States. Our lives may be significantly disrupted by the measures needed to respond to a global pandemic," writes Dr. Murrow. "The current COVID-19 outbreak clearly has the potential to turn into a severe pandemic. This is a difficult message to share, but it is important to recognize how difficult the times ahead may be."

Many parents say it's important that the county is being proactive.

"On the big, whole spectrum of things, I feel slightly like it's too much of a scare tactic. But for schools I understand. Children are little. I t can affect them harder because they are so small," says Erin Alvarez, who has one child at a school in Belmont.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom says Calif. is prepared for first COVID-19 case with unknown origin

The health department says state and local officials are working to manage testing and monitoring of persons who have been exposed to COVID-19.

Dr. Murrow says the focus is changing from a containment strategy to one of community mitigation, which means taking steps to lessen the impact of the disease. He says what matters most is how well communities are prepared. Preparedness equals self-sufficiency.

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