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UPDATE Thursday, Feb. 13: CDC confirms that second Ventura County resident tested for coronavirus does not have the virus

1 31 20 LEVINDr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Public Health director
The Ventura County Public Health Department issued an update on the novel coronavirus Thursday, Feb. 13, reporting that results from the Centers for Disease Control show that a second Ventura County resident tested for the virus does not have it.
That patient had been in isolation at home, according to county Public Health Director Dr. Robert Levin. “The person was discharged (from a hospital) about a week ago and was doing well,” Levin said earlier this week.
He said that at least three people in Ventura County have been quarantined in their own homes as a precaution.
As of Feb. 13, 14 people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus out of 427 tested; 66 tests are pending. Cases have been diagnosed in six U.S. states, including California. The number of states and territories with people under investigation for novel coronavirus are 41, according to the CDC.
The county Public Health Department had issued a press release on Feb. 1 that two Ventura County residents were being tested for the coronavirus, and that one of the patients had been shown not to have the coronavirus.
Levin speculated the delay in getting test results for the second Ventura County patient could have been due to an uptick in samples being tested by the CDC. He said the criteria to be tested by the CDC for coronavirus are “really rigid.” A person has to have been in China, have respiratory issues, a cough, a fever and have been in contact with someone diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Even with that high criteria for testing, just about one in 20 tested thus far in the United States has been diagnosed with coronavirus, Levin said. The rest “have something else — probably the flu.”
Both of the people in Ventura County tested had flu-like systems and had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is, or were exposed to either known or suspected cases.
Levin reported that, initially, testing for the novel coronavirus was being done at the CDC laboratory. “Moving forward,” he stated in a press release Feb. 10, “the Ventura County Public Health Laboratory will conduct testing of any possible cases of the novel coronavirus.” On Feb. 7, the Ventura County Public Health Department received materials allowing it to conduct its own coronavirus lab tests, just one of 16 sites in the state of California.
Levin said it is likely that Ventura County is one of the sites because it is the 10th largest county in California and has “an exceptional, top-quality public lab here,” run by Denise Von Bargen, laboratory director of the Ventura County Public Health Laboratory.
Levin stated in his press release that his department “continues to take steps to prevent the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus. The health and well being of the community remain Public Health’s top priority. In Ventura County, as in counties across the U.S., the threat to the general public for contracting the coronavirus remains low.”
He said on Monday: “At this time, the chances that someone will encounter a person infected with this new coronavirus in Ventura County are very small. Public Health monitoring is ongoing and thorough. We will inform the public if the situation changes.”
Levin said, “We let our response fit the problem. If we have one documented case of coronavirus, we move that person into isolation, determine all of the contacts and follow up with those and quarantine those people.” 
If the number of cases increased, at a certain point, Levin said a Department Operation Center would be called in, the county Office of Emergency Services would be alerted and an Emergency Operation Center would open.” He explained that the response would be staged “to what you’re able to respond with at any given moment.”
On Feb. 4, Levin issued an updated advisory to the county superintendent of schools regarding the coronavirus, asking that it be distributed to all schools and school districts in Ventura County.
In keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for exposure in “travel-associated or community settings,” Levin issued a letter stating that people who have arrived from China from Feb. 3 forward should follow the CDC guidance.
“Such individuals who have come back to the United States after spending time in any part of China but have not been in Hubei Province are classified as being at medium risk,” he stated.
As such, they are advised to self-monitor “with Public Health Supervision,” and ”to the extent possible, remain at home or in a comparable setting for 14 days from the date of leaving China. Avoid congregate settings, limit public activities, and practice social distancing.”
Specifically with regard to schools, Levin stated in his coronavirus advisory:
  “• Any student who has been in China’s Hubei province (home of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus) within the last 14 days (as of Feb. 3) will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. It is likely that these children are already being quarantined on a military base near their point of entry into the United States.
“• Any student returning from anywhere in China in the preceding 14 days who develops a fever and/or respiratory symptoms should be quarantined in their home until he or she has seen a physician and has been cleared by the Ventura County Health Department after receiving confirmation from the CDC that it is not the coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
“These recommendations are subject to additional modifications as more information is learned about 2019-nCoV.
“Students of Chinese descent who have not traveled to China are at no greater risk of 2019-nCoV infection than any other student.
“Those with concerns or questions are asked to contact Communicable Diseases at 805-981-5201.
Levin stated that the interim guidance is effective as of Feb. 3, “and does not apply retrospectively to people who have been in China during the previous 14 days and are already in the United States, or those being managed as part of a contact investigation.”
On Feb. 4, the Ventura County Office of Education issued the following guidelines on its website at: https://www.vcoe.org/news/ArticleID/4714/coronavirus:
Guidelines Regarding Students Who Have NOT Traveled to China
“If the student has:
1. Fever (Temperature >100.4° F or >38°C) or
2. Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)
Follow general guidelines for when to send a student home based upon symptoms. Staff attending to any ill student should use standard precautions — mask, gloves and hand washing."
General Guidelines for Schools
"— Students should not be excluded from school or any activities based on their race or country of origin. 
— Students and staff do not need to wear masks to protect themselves. Masks are not an effective method of general prevention. Hand washing provides better protection from infectious diseases.
— Schools can play an important role in educating students, parents and staff by providing factual information on the coronavirus. Answers to frequently asked questions about the virus are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html. 
— For any general illness, emphasize hand washing and staying home if sick. Students should stay home until fever free for 24 hours.
— Student health information, including infectious disease, is confidential and not to be shared with other students or staff as per Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act  (not Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
— Confidential health information, including infectious disease, can be shared with Ventura County Public Health as per Health and Safety Code laws.
— Do not send out disease notification letters to students, parents or staff unless directed by Ventura County Public Health.
“Flu is still circulating and this season’s flu cases are more prevalent among children, so schools may be experiencing high levels of illness. It’s not too late for students and families to get their flu shots.”
What is the 2019 novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. In rare cases, animal coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. The 2019 novel coronavirus is a newly discovered coronavirus that has not been previously detected in animals or humans. The source of the novel coronavirus is not yet known. Typically, human coronaviruses cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and shortness of breath. 
Those who have recently traveled to China, and who have become ill with fever, cough or shortness of breath are asked to call Ventura County Public Health Communicable Diseases at 805-981-5101. 
As with any virus, especially during the flu season, VCPH reminds people of steps they can take to protect their health and those around them:
— Wash hands with soap and water. 
— Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. 
— Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
— If someone does become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough, they should stay away from work, school or other people to avoid spreading illness.

 

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