Health experts discuss coronavirus

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Following L.A. County’s announcement to proclaim a countywide state of emergency Wednesday morning, county and health officials offered tips on how the community can prepare for, and slow the spread of, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. 

However, county Public Health officials reassured the community that there is no immediate threat to the general public. 

“We know of an assumed known exposure source for all six of the new cases that we are announcing today,” said Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. “That means as of today, we still don’t have known cases of community transmission.” 

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Santa Clarita, but there has been a total of seven in L.A. County, which were all linked to travel. 

“The city of Santa Clarita is working closely with our local partners to ensure preparedness, if and when cases of coronavirus are reported in our City,” said Mayor Cameron Smyth, in a news release. 

During a county news conference on Wednesday, Ferrer suggested community members stay home if they feel sick, no matter how mild it may feel, and to remain stocked on handwashing and other essential supplies. 

“These measures would include having an ample supply of essentials at home, no different than the preparedness activities we ask people to do for natural disasters like earthquakes, fires and floods,” said Ferrer. 

Individuals should be prepared for emergencies regardless, according to Michelle Vega, spokeswoman for Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. 

“Government is advocating for being prepared for any emergency,” said Vega. “In the same vein, individuals should be prepared, and in no way is it in relation to an outbreak or epidemic.”

“Supplies will be available, we don’t think they will become unavailable,” Vega added. “Everyone should already have an emergency plan for emergencies.” 

Starting Thursday, Public Health will begin hosting radio briefings to provide the public with the latest information on the virus. It will be led by Ferrer and a health officer. Telebriefing will also be hosted weekly. 

At this time, Public Health are increasing their capacity for testing of the virus at their local labs. Public Health is among 10 California labs that have received Center for Disease Control and Prevention test kits, according to Ferrer. 

Additionally, Public Health will be posting new guidelines that child care facilities, schools, colleges, employers and other establishments should follow to prepare and slow the spread of the coronavirus, Ferrer added. 

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