January 28, 2020 – Due to recent inquiries and in an effort to promote the health and safety of Nevada County residents, the Nevada County Public Health Department is issuing this Public Service Announcement about coronavirus.

There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of novel (new) coronavirus in Nevada County. The new coronavirus called 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan, China. It has spread in China and has been detected in multiple other countries including several cases in the United States. The current threat to the general public that has not traveled to China is considered low. However, it is important that people keep informed about this rapidly evolving situation. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses and this one had not been previously identified. Reported illnesses in confirmed cases have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

To date, there have been five people in the United States with confirmed 2019-nCoV infections; one in the state of Washington, one each in Illinois and Arizona, and two in California (Orange County and Los Angeles County). All five people had been in Wuhan, China within 14 days of becoming ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the situation very closely, and the CDC now recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. Multiple airports in the US are screening travelers arriving from China and any ill passengers receive additional evaluation and non-ill passengers are given information on steps to take if they do become ill.

If you have traveled to China and develop fever and/or a cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days of travel or have been in close contact with someone ill who has been in China recently, please contact your doctor to tell them about symptoms and, importantly, about recent travel. The doctor can then give instructions on steps to take before a medical visit, take appropriate precautions to reduce the chance of spreading illness to others, and consult with your local health department.

Right now, the virus is not known to be spreading person-to-person in the United States. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent against 2019-nCoV nor a specific treatment. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. So, in addition to following travel advisories, one can avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Many people have seen photos from China that show lots of people wearing face (surgical) masks. There is not good evidence that face masks prevent the public from being infected by viruses; however, wearing a mask may serve as a reminder not to touch your mouth and nose. Health care workers frequently wear N95 respirators that have been fit-tested for them. These respirators have not been tested for effectiveness when worn by the general public so there is not current evidence to support a general recommendation for their widespread use.

As a reminder, we are still in the midst of flu season, and getting the flu shot can help prevent the flu and its serious complications.

To keep track of the rapidly evolving 2019-nCoV issue, please check the California Department of Public Health and the CDC websites that regularly post updates at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.