Valley health officials working to ease public tension with Coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As fears surrounding the Coronavirus spread, Valley public health officials are working to ease public tension.

"We don't want to underplay the seriousness of this, but we also don't want people to overreact," says Fresno County Public Health Director David Pomaville.

Pomaville says the department has become inundated with calls.

Of the less than 18 people being monitored across the region, all fell under CDC guidelines to monitor as persons of interest.

"They have either a connection to a COVID-19 diagnosis or a travel association, but they're asymptomatic," says Sara Bosse with Madera County Public Health.

Much like the flu, those who show symptoms experience fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those symptoms could appear two to 14 days after exposure.

"We have nurses checking in with them on a regular basis and then depending on the test results, that will change how often we reach out," says Kings County Public Health Director Edward Hill.

While a vaccine is in the works, health officials say it likely won't be available for another year.

For now, health officials say to use influenza as a benchmark for how the disease is spread. It's unclear how long the virus can live on a surface.

"It can last from hours to days," Pomaville said.

Placer County announced the state's first Coronavirus death, as well as the voluntary quarantine in place for the three Rocklin firefighters that came into contact with that patient last Thursday.

Chief Bill Hack says that the patient was a fall victim and didn't show signs of respiratory illness.

Monday, they were contacted by the Department of Public Health and learned that fall victim tested positive for COVID-19.

"Because of that, we've instituted operational plans that we've been developing now," Hack said. "All of our firefighters have been provided training, so we've been modifying our response, so when we go to a medical emergency, we're limiting the amount of firefighters who come into contact with that patient."

EMS director Dan Lynch is working closely with the Valley's first responders for best practices.

"We want to make sure our responders are safe," Lynch said. "They need to use regular precaution, use a mask when they feel it's necessary."

That includes eye protection, face masks and a decontamination process.

When possible, they're to keep six feet between themselves and the patient and keep exposure to less than 15 minutes.

Best practices include washing your hands for a 20-second period and if you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue.

They also say masks are counterproductive for healthy people, as it actually makes you touch your face more, making you more susceptible to germs.
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