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Staff Report
7:55 am PST February 9, 2020

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health sought to assuage residents’ fears regarding novel coronavirus.

In a press release issued the evening of Saturday, Feb. 8, the department reassured that there has been no further community transmission of the virus after one person in Los Angeles County — a non-resident traveler from Wuhan City — became infected with it.

“There are only 12 cases of novel coronavirus across the entire United States and while it is likely that there will be additional cases, actions have been taken to limit the spread of the virus in our country,” the department states. “Recent travelers who have visited mainland China are screened at the airport and provided with information about restricting their movements, monitoring their health and connecting with their provider and local public health department should they feel ill for 14 days after last being in mainland China.  

“Guidance has been sent to school districts, universities and colleges explaining the new directives which restrict staff and students who returned from traveling in mainland China after Feb. 2, for 14 days after leaving mainland China.”

The department further urged residents to depend on reliable sources, including themselves, the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

“With rising reports of reduced patronage of Chinese owned businesses, bullying and stigmatization on school and college campuses, and rampant xenophobia on social media, Public Health is encouraging people to focus on facts, not fear,” the release states. “The fact is novel coronavirus is NOT currently spreading in the community in Los Angeles County nor in the United States, and immediate risk to the general public in Los Angeles County is low. Residents can continue to enjoy all their usual activities and feel comfortable eating and shopping at restaurants and stores that are owned and operated by our Chinese neighbors and friends.”

Still, the Department of Public Health recommends that residents take the following to protect themselves from all respiratory illnesses:

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).

• Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and people who are sick.

• Get a flu immunization to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.