Two patients, who were not infected in Contra Costa, sent from Travis Air Force Base to local hospitals
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) today, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 confirmed two cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in patients being treated at hospitals in the county.
The patients were transported to Contra Costa County early this morning from Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, where some international travelers have been recently quarantined because they may have been exposed to the virus.
The patients, who were among the recent U.S. evacuees from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, are receiving care in Contra Costa due to a lack of space at facilities closer to the base that can properly isolate them to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. While the two patients tested positive for COVID-19, they have yet to show any symptoms of the virus, such as fever and difficulty breathing.
The hospital and public health officials are working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Heath (CDPH) to ensure the patients receive excellent care and that all procedures are followed to protect the community from COVID-19.
“Our county’s healthcare system is prepared to handle COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “We have been working with our hospital partners to follow safety protocols to keep patients and healthcare workers safe and minimize the risk of the virus spreading in Contra Costa.”
The patients did not become infected in Contra Costa County. CCHS will not release further details about the patients to protect their medical privacy.
“We’re not identifying the hospitals for privacy,” said Will Harper, the Acting Communications Officer for Contra Costa Public Health
A suspected case of the Novel Coronavirus at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center that had staff concerned about protocols, earlier this month, was of a Martinez woman who had returned from China two days before. But that was confirmed the following week to not be. (See related article).
Asked why the patients were brought here and if they were from Contra Costa County, Dr. Farnitano responded, “the Travis facility is designated by the CDC as a quarantine facility – someone who might have been exposed but doesn’t have symptoms – but they’re not set up to be an isolation facility for people experiencing symptoms. Solano County has maximized its isolation rooms, so they’re reaching out to other, neighboring counties.”
Asked how many isolation rooms there are in the county, he said, “available rooms vary from day to day. Some are used by other patients for other conditions. We have a dozen or so rooms across the various hospitals.”
Asked if we can expect more patients brought to the county, Dr. Farnitano said, “It’s possible, if the tests return from the CDC from the Travis quarantine travelers, we could see more patients that need to be placed in local hospitals.”
“The hospitals we have been working with in the county to be prepared for this, they’re familiarizing their staff with the CDC protocols and procedures to properly protect their staff and patients,” he added.
Asked if people should be concerned, Dr. Farnitano stated, “there’s no vaccine, but most people have very mild cases. It’s the elderly and those with other medical conditions that are most susceptible.”
“The mortality rate seems to be higher than the seasonal flu,” he continued. “But we don’t know how many have symptoms. Most people seem to get just a mild illness.”
“We are working very closely with the CDC, on conference calls with them several times a week and keeping up with their latest recommendations,” Dr. Farnitano stated. “One encouraging sign is we don’t see a lot of children in other countries who are getting the severe symptoms of the disease for the most part,”
The best way to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as COVID-19, is to practice good hygiene:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available
- People who are sick should always cover their coughs and sneezes using a tissue or the crook of their elbow; wash your hands after using a tissue to wipe your nose or mouth
- People who are sick should stay home from work or school until they are well
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your unwashed hands
Contra Costa residents should contact their healthcare providers if they have symptoms and had close contact with someone with symptoms who traveled in the last 14 days from China.
All travelers to the U.S. from China since Feb. 2 have been asked to self-quarantine under the guidance of their local public health department for 14 days.
Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to learn more about COVID-19.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.