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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information


Updated: 02/07/2020

Message from the Health Officer (Spanish)
The County of Santa Cruz Public Health Department is working closely with our local, state, and federal public health partners to closely monitor novel (new) coronavirus developments. We are preparing locally because this is a new and rapidly evolving situation.  Our Public Health Department is committed to working actively with healthcare providers, schools, and many other partners.

We know people are anxious and concerned about this new virus. Because it is so new, there is still a lot we do not know, including exactly how it is spread, how easily it spreads, and whether people with no symptoms can spread the virus.

We have no evidence that the virus is present in our community or spreading person-to-person in our community right now. Our best advice right now is you don’t need to wear a mask since there is little risk of getting the illness.

The one exception is if you are sick with respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath – wear a mask to protect others. Simple surgical masks can help prevent spreading the flu and other viruses to your family, friends, colleagues, and community.

People who have traveled to where the virus is circulating should closely monitor their health for 14 days after they have returned. If you begin to get sick with a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home and wear a mask around others in your household. Call your healthcare provider and let them know your travel history and your symptoms.

If you have mild symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat, you do not need to go to a hospital emergency department. Please do not go to an emergency department unless your symptoms are more severe, such as having difficulty breathing.

If you are at home sick, please wear a mask and separate yourself from others to protect them from your illness. If your symptoms get worse, contact your healthcare provider again to determine what treatment may be needed.

With any virus, we know they spread easily in large groups of people. If you can, avoid large gatherings, especially if you do not feel well. And if you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, please do not attend large gatherings. Whether it’s the flu or another virus, you can help us limit the spread of many illnesses by staying home when you are sick.

Responding to outbreaks like this one is what public health departments do. It is our responsibility to take action to limit the spread of disease and protect the public's health, and we thank you for doing your part.
Dr. Gail Newel
Health Officer
County of Santa Cruz

Health Care Provider Information

UPDATED 2/14/2020

CDC has made changes to their guidance for evaluation of “Persons Under Investigation (PUI)” for Coronavirus Disease 2019. CDC’s definition of a PUI has an added footnote. Providers suspecting infection of 2019 novel coronavirus should immediately notify the Santa Cruz County Communicable Disease Unit at: 831-454-4114 (Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM) and 831-471-1170 (after hours and weekends). The new CDC guidance provides for consideration of testing persons who do not meet the old PUI definition in two circumstances:

  • For severely ill individuals, testing can be considered when exposure history is equivocal and another etiology has not been identified.
  • For persons with travel to China within 14 days, testing can be considered at the discretion of public health officials for all persons with illnesses with fever and lower respiratory symptoms, whether or not they are hospitalized.

Flowchart (adapted from CDC) to identify and assess plausible 2019-nCoV cases

Evaluating and Reporting Person Under Investigation (PUI)

CDC Information for Health Professionals

The California Department of Public Health has been informed that after consultation and agreement with the FDA, the CDC is manufacturing a replacement component of the state test kits to better ensure quality control in local public health laboratories. The California Department of Public Health remains poised to start testing for 2019 novel coronavirus upon receiving those materials. Until then, CDC will continue with all testing for 2019 novel coronavirus.

Given the rapidly evolving situation, please refer to the following resources:

Posters for Medical Waiting Rooms/Public Areas:
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There has been an outbreak of a new illness called “novel coronavirus.” While the illness started in China, the situation is quickly changing.
People with the virus have been confirmed in multiple countries including the United States. Several cases have been confirmed in California, including our neighboring counties. Since this virus is very new, health authorities are carefully watching the situation and how this virus spreads. This situation is quickly changing, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides updated information as it becomes available.
Public health officials are taking action to protect the public. The CDC, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are closely monitoring the outbreak. This situation is quickly changing, and these organizations provide updated information as it becomes available. The County of Santa Cruz Public Health Division is working with local healthcare partners to ensure we are prepared to respond as needed.
At this time, there is low risk to Santa Cruz County residents, unless they recently traveled to China or were in close contact with someone who has been confirmed to be ill with the novel coronavirus.
  1. Get your flu shot to protect against flu, which is now widespread and has symptoms like the ones for the novel coronavirus.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water, rub for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, sleeve or arm. Do not use your hand.
  4. Stay home if you are sick with a fever, cough, shortness of breath and are feeling tired.
  5. Stay away from large groups of people if possible.
Please remember that flu and other respiratory viruses are very common right now, and large group gatherings are places where viruses can spread. Remember, if you are not feeling well or are experiencing cold, flu or other symptoms, stay home to avoid spreading germs.
In the unusual event that a staff member is identified who recently traveled from China and has symptoms of respiratory illness, they should be sent home from work and should immediately contact the Santa Cruz County Communicable Disease Unit at 831-454-4114 during business hours or, if after hours, at 831-471-1170.
Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath. Some people may have pneumonia or more serious illness.
If you have traveled to China in the last 14 days or have been in close contact with someone known to have the novel coronavirus and have cold or flu symptoms, please contact your doctor.
It is unclear how easily or frequently the virus may spread from person to person, so it’s important to practice good hygiene (cover your cough and sneeze, and wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer). We are still learning about this new virus
At this time, the CDC has issued a Level 3 travel advisory, recommending to avoid all nonessential travel to China. Please check the CDC website for current advisories to other countries:
An anonymous crisis line is available 24 hours, 7 days a week including holidays at 1-800-704-0900 (Mental Health Services) and/or SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline 24 hours at 1-800-985-5990 or text TALKWITHUS to 66746 (Press 2 for Spanish).



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