Coronavirus Outbreak: Additional COVID-19 cases confirmed in Solano and Santa Clara counties, officials say

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Saturday, February 29, 2020
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Solano County is now responsible for the care of two additional people with confirmed novel coronavirus cases. Santa Clara County health officials also confirmed a new COVID-19 case via community spread.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Additional cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Solano County and Santa Clara County, officials say.

Solano County Public Health Officer Bela. T. Matyas, MD, MPH said two more cases within the county are evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who were quarantined at Travis Air Force Base.

"These are two cases that are in the list of evacuee cases that are transferred to local authorities, so we're obligated to announce them as Solano County cases. So they're not new to the coronavirus overall, but they become differentiated from the evacuee cases," Matyas said.

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The two people from the cruise ship tested positive for the illness in Japan, then when they arrived at the Air Force base in Fairfield, one was recently confirmed by the CDC. The other individual, is awaiting test results from the CDC, Solano County officials say. They were released from Travis Airforce Base by the CDC, but immediately transferred to separate health care facilities. They are now in home isolation until cleared by Solano Public Health officials.

"It has turned out that a couple of those individuals are Solano County residents, so we transferred responsibility from the federal quarantine, or federal isolation, to local isolation," Matyas said. "We did that so that we can get them back into their home, and it's much more comfortable for them to be in their home than in the hospital."

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He says the two patients are not showing any symptoms and home isolation is preferred as it frees up space for other patients in the hospital

Health officials in the same county are still investigating people who could have come in contact with the first confirmed case in Solano County, a patient who was first treated at Northbay Vacavalley hospital before transferred to another hospital.

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Health officials also confirmed the third case of novel coronavirus in Santa Clara County on Friday.

Authorities say the individual is an older adult woman who was hospitalized for a respiratory illness. Her infectious disease physician contacted the Public Health Department to request novel coronavirus testing and received results Thursday evening.

The new confirmed case is not tied to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where evacuees are being quarantined at Travis Air Force Base.

The new COVID-19 case is an instance of community spread, meaning the patient had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual, Santa Clara County health officials say.

"This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear," Health Officer for Santa Clara County and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department Dr. Sara Cody said. "I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for. Now we need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease."

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"Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It's also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected," the CDC explained in their statement.

Due to medical privacy requirements, officials are not releasing any other information about the patient's identity. Authorities have been working to identify contacts.

In a press conference, Dr. Cody said this case is a signal that it's time for public health agencies to shift their strategies in how to respond to the novel coronavirus.

"Public health measures that we've taken so far, isolation, quarantine, contact tracing and travel restrictions have helped to slow the spread of disease, and we will continue to implement them," Cody said. "We will continue to trace close contacts of our cases to limit the spread of the virus, but now we have to add other public health tools to the mix. So now that we have a case who did not recently travel, or come in contact with anyone close to be ill, what does that mean? What we know now is that the virus is here, it's present at some level, but still don't know to what degree. An important priority therefore, for us, is to conduct public health surveillance to determine the extent of what's happening."

The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department is working closely with the CDC and recommend these measures for individuals and communities to stay healthy amid the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Keep your hands clean. It is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. And always need to cover your cough and stay home when you are sick.
  • Start working on not touching your face because one way viruses spread is when you touch your own mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Since we know the disease is here, we all need to stay away from people who are sick.
  • Start thinking about family preparedness, how to take care of sick family while not getting infected. Think about a room to isolate a sick person.

Officials addressed the new COVID-19 case via community spread in Santa Clara County. See full press conference here:

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