MADERA — Here are the Madera County Health Department’s answers to frequently asked questions regarding the coronavirus outbreak (first issued March 12):
Q. What is the 2019 novel coronavirus? A. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that cause respiratory illness. This virus is part of the coronavirus family and should not be mistaken as another coronavirus that causes the common cold. Not all coronaviruses are the 2019 novel coronaviruses.
Q. How did the novel coronavirus come about? A. Many coronaviruses originate from animals. Rarely, these animal coronaviruses will spread from animal to human and even rarer, from human to human. The COVID-19 is suspected to be one of these rare cases.
Q. Can someone who has the COVID-19 spread the illness to others? A. A person who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending all patients who are sick with COVID-19 to be at home or in an isolation room under the monitoring of the local public health department until they are better and can no longer spread to others.
Q. What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause? A. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Those who have COVID-19 can have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. People who are very ill with COVID-19 can have pneumonia.
Q. How can I protect myself? A. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being close (within 6 feet) of someone with the virus. Follow these steps every day to prevent getting sick from not only COVID-19 but also other respiratory diseases. 1. Don’t come close to someone who is sick. 2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 3. Stay home when you are sick. 4. Cover or cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 5. Wash your hand frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, cough, or sneeze, and after using the restroom. If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 6. Clean and disinfection items that are regularly touched with cleaning sprays or wipes.
Q. Does the Madera County Department of Public Health recommend the use of facemask in the community? A. The Madera County Department of Public and the CDC do not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. Facemasks should only be used by people who are sick with symptom of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of disease to others. The use of facemasks is also important for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Q. What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19? A. For these instances: 1. If you are certain that you have been in close contact (within 6ft) with someone who is positive for COVID-19, OR 2. If you don’t know if someone has the COVID-19 but is still concerned because the person has travel history to affected areas AND is sick with fever or cough, Please complete the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Feedback Form to report the incident to us and your report will be reviewed accordingly.
Q. Am I at risk for COVID-19 in Madera County? A. This is a constantly changing situation; however, at this time, there is a VERY LOW chance of getting COVID19 in Madera County.
Q. How are travelers from China being screened when they entered the United States? A. At this time, American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and family members (as specified in the Presidential Proclamation) who have been in China in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States. Those travelers will be directed to one of 11 US airports and will be screened for fever and symptoms and asked questions about their travel in China. Those travelers will have some level of restriction on their movement depending on their health and travel history. CDC will notify state and local health departments of all travelers who reside in their state and county for further follow-up.
Q. What is Madera County Department of Public Health doing about COVID-19? A. The Madera County Department of Public Health is always in contact with the CDC, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), other local public health departments, and health care providers in Madera County to ensure we are taking all necessary recommended steps to be prepared and protect the Madera County community. The CDC, in constant communication with state and local health departments, have created a notification process to let the state and local health departments know about travelers returning from affected areas. If there are travelers who are residents of Madera County and are coming back from an affected area, the Madera County Department of Public Health will know immediately. Because of this, be assured that the Madera County Department of Public Health is a taking all immediate steps to evaluate and keep persons with risks of COVID-19 away from the community. It is important to note that majority of travelers who will be evaluated will not have COVID-19.
Q. Should I cancel or postpone my trip? A. CDC provides additional recommendation on postponing on canceling trip based on risks. A list of destinations with travel notices is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. Warning Level 3: CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19. Alert Level 2: Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to a healthcare provider and consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices. Watch Level 1: CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is thought to be low. If you travel, take the following routine precautions: 1. Avoid contact with sick people. 2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 3. Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. 4. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.