In order to address the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously issued a proclamation of a state of emergency and have advised residents to cancel community gatherings consisting of 50 or more people.
The proclamation states that “this Board requests the Governor of the State of California to proclaim the County of Contra Costa to be in a state of emergency,” due to the conditions reaching such a magnitude that they are likely to be beyond the control of the services provided by the county, and will require the combined forces of regional agencies and resources to combat.
“The new coronavirus or COVID-19 presents our community with a challenge. While I urge you to be prepared, it is certainly not a time to panic. Following our health officials’ guidelines will help prevent the spread of disease. The County and Contra Costa Health Services will continue to offer guidance and resources. Meanwhile, there is much each and everyone one of us can do to keep our families and communities well. It will take all of us working together.” Board Chair Candace Andersen said in a statement.
County officials say that not only will the emergency proclamation allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments, but will also enable Contra Costa Health Services to mobilize county resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing and more efficiently coordinate agencies across the county.
Plus, the proclamation will help raise awareness about how residents can prepare in the event that COVID-19 begins to spread in the community, officials said.
Contra Costa County officially has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, of those, four were known to have had contact with people who previously tested positive, while six had no recent history of travel outside the U.S. or known contact with a confirmed case.
To help stem the potential spread of the coronavirus, Health Services has issued new public guidelines for community members to follow.
County officials have officially recommended that over the next two weeks groups should 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.
Further adding that residents who are in groups that are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 -- such as residents aged 50 years or older and those with preexisting medical issues -- should take particular effort to avoid large gatherings of people and should consider telecommuting to work if possible.
For the general public, residents are advised to do the following:
* Bump elbows or bow instead of shaking hands.
* Avoid touching face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
* Cover coughs or sneezes with disposable tissue or the crook of an elbow
* Use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles and elevator buttons.
* Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces.
* Get vaccinated for the flu.
*Avoid non-essential trips to emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
* Residents who are feeling ill should call their health care provider before visiting. phone consultation may be adequate.
Business leaders are also recommended to consider maximizing flexibility in sick leave benefits, not requiring a doctor’s note, offering telecommuting options for appropriate employees, suspending non-essential employee travel and to consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.
Prior to the county's recommendations, several groups have proactively canceled community events out of concerns over the coronavirus spreading. Already the city of Dublin has canceled its annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration and City Center Bishop Ranch officials doing the same for its annual Holi Festival.
"In an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to cancel this year’s Holi Celebration at Bishop Ranch on Friday, March 27th. We will be bringing back this lively, colorful and fun event next year," said officials with Sunset Development Company, the owner of City Center Bishop Ranch.
Recognizing the potential severity of COVID-19, the Contra Costa County Superior Court issued its own advice and on Tuesday released a statement informing parties, attorneys and jurors that if they are experiencing coughing, fever, or shortness of breath, to not come to court.
Individuals who have received a summons for jury duty may reschedule their service either online at www.cc-courts.org or by calling 608-1000 to speak to the court’s jury services department.
Parties and attorneys will need to contact the individual departments handling their matters for rescheduling.
In the San Ramon Valley Unified School District officials have been issuing their own communications with residents to keep them apprised of the situation, and while they are taking precautions of their own, have stated they plan to keep schools open unless recommended to do otherwise by Contra Costa Health Services.
Extra- and co-curricular activities in the SRVUSD are also scheduled to proceed as scheduled, however the district recommends members of at risk groups consider remaining away from public gatherings.
"This unique situation requires flexibility. We thank you for reading our communications, which we will be sending regularly as the situation evolves," SRVUSD spokesperson Christopher George said in an email to residents.
District officials added that students and residents should remain respectful of one another and refrain from bullying one another over perceptions associated with COVID-19.
“As always, in an effort to prevent bullying and discrimination, we remind you to remain respectful of one another and refrain from speculation about who may or may not pose a risk,” district officials said.
“Additionally, we want to take a moment to acknowledge our dedicated staff members who work hard to keep our schools and students safe during this time. Crises like this require the ability to change and evolve in a fluid situation when multiple agencies are making recommendations. We are proud of our staff members’ commitment and flexibility to provide what is best for our students,” they added.
Residents can receive the most up-to-date information on the status of the novel coronavirus in Contra Costa County online at www.cchealth.org/coronavirus.