MARTINEZ, Calif. – The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) concerns have landed squarely on the steps of Contra Costa County. The county has 10 confirmed coronavirus patients as of Tuesday morning, the county’s health director said.
“We believe COVID-19 is circulating in our community,” said Contra Costa County Director of Public Health Dan Peddycord, on Tuesday.
Two of the cases are from people who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise to Mexico that took place between February 11 through 21, while two others came into contact with someone known to have the virus.
The more troubling results are from six people in the county who apparently contracted the pathogen through “community transmission” or an unknown source.
“When you start having these unrelated cases, you know those six of the 10 here, it is indicative that it is being transmitted person to person and you don’t know who’s going to have it,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen.
The county has more than 1,000 coronavirus testing kits — “Our ability to test is meeting current demand,” Peddycord said.
During a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, county health officials announced that people at higher risk or those with health conditions like disease, diabetes, or chronic lung diseases, should avoid crowds of 50 people or more such as sporting events, religious services, and concerts.
“We understand that these recommendations may substantially impact our lives and be difficult to implement. We considered them very carefully in consultation with the state and other counties who’ve taken similar actions,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna with the Contra Costa County Public Health.
The development came just as reports surfaced that a relative of a student at Mira Vista Elementary in Richmond tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend and has been placed under quarantine.
“Like 40% of the whole school wasn’t here today according to the P.E. teacher… like the whole class was not here,” said Sascha Ettlinger, a 6th grader from El Cerrito.
West Contra Costa County Unified School District spokesperson Marcus Walton told KTVU Tuesday that the campus will undergo a deep cleaning and that classes would continue as normal on Wednesday.
“I think it’s the responsible thing to do. If it came, help decrease the speed of the spread that will definitely help things overall,” said Marc Ettlinger, parent of a Mira Vista student.
Contra Costa County lawmakers have also stepped up with an emergency declaration Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors that allows the county to access resources and eventually recover costs associated with the state and federal governments.
Another challenge among many, supervisors and health officers said, is combating rampant misinformation on the internet.
“There are a lot of people in panic mode, and it’s important we get the proper information out there,” Supervisor Federal Glover said.
Added Supervisors’ Chairwoman Candace Andersen, “While I urge you to be prepared, it is certainly not a time to panic.”
Among other recommendations that were issued: Cancel or postpone large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, celebrations, conventions, religious services and community events where 50 or more people are within arm’s length of each other.
An earlier version of this story reported it was a Mira Vista student who tested positive for COVID-19. That was incorrect and we regret the error. The story has been updated with the correct information.
Bay City News contributed to this report.
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