By Allen Payton
Tuesday night, Contra Costa public health officials announced the first positive case of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, involving a county resident. The individual is in critical condition and is in medical isolation and completely separated from the general public, according to Contra Costa County Public Health Director Dan Peddycord.
The person tested positive Tuesday afternoon but “had no known travel history and no known contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.” He is an adult man over 18 years old who has underlying health conditions. The patient was admitted to a local hospital on Sunday, March 1 suffering from a respiratory illness.
The county’s public health lab conducted the test, which is expected to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the coming days. The patient, who is being treated at a hospital in the county, had no known travel history and no known contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
CCHS is conducting a thorough investigation to identify anyone who may have had close contact with the patient.
“Contra Costa Health Services is conducting a thorough investigation to identify anyone who may have had contact with the patient before they were isolated,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, County Public Health Medical Director. “This case suggests that coronavirus or COVID-19 may be circulating in Contra Costa County.”
The officials further said it’s time to prepare an to be smart about the virus. Schools and businesses should prepare plans and encourage employees and students to stay home if they are sick. Use hand sanitizer, wash your hands for 20 seconds and often. Do not touch your face and use household cleaners to wipe down surfaces. You should also try to keep distance from people who appear to have a cold or the flu. Avoid shaking hands and try to maintain distance.
Officials would not say in which hospital the latest patient is located.
Asked why the public isn’t being informed what hospital the patient is in, like other counties and states are doing, so they can decide whether they want to go to that hospital or another, Will Harper, Acting Communications Director for Contra Costa Public Health responded, “That concern is understandable but that has to be balanced with the patient’s right to privacy. Our department decided it’s best for the patient’s right to privacy not to share the hospital in which they’re located.”
“The public is being protected when a patient is in the hospital in isolation and separated from other patients and the public,” he added.
CCHS issued a letter on Monday from Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth and Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano stating, “we expect to see more cases, here in Contra Costa County” and “Now is the time for individuals and families, neighborhoods, community organizations, businesses, schools and all sectors to take steps to be prepared.” They provide a list of “ideas to help get prepared and prevent the spread of the disease now” which can be read, here: COVID19-CCHS Letter-03022020
In addition, Roth and Peddycord issued a Health Alert Update on Friday, Feb. 28 providing direction to healthcare providers in the county. Health-Alert-Coronavirus-CCHS-022820
More Details from Contra Costa Health Services
The novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. The outbreak began in December, 2019 in Hubei Province, China, but outbreaks are now occurring in other countries around the world. There have been a number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus reported in California.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and public health agencies across the U.S. are monitoring this new disease. Contra Costa Health Services is working closely with its partners and other health systems to track the situation locally.
Most U.S. cases involve international travelers or close contact with someone who has the virus, known as COVID-19. But COVID-19 may now be circulating in Northern California communities including the Bay Area, according to the CDC and CDPH.
Hospitals in the county, including Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers, are screening patients with symptoms for potential exposure to COVID-19. Contra Costa Health Services has sent information about coronavirus to local medical providers, emergency medical services providers, and schools.
As this is an unusual situation, information could change rapidly.