Guidelines evolve for COVID-19 contagion

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are more than 477 locations listed on the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s website for COVID-19 outbreaks at nonresidential locations countywide, with 20 of the addresses in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to L.A. County Public Health Department data.

County Public Health officials report any locations as an “outbreak” if it has at least three COVID-19 diagnoses linked to an address. 

The locations range from public and private elementary school campuses to manufacturing hubs to a beauty salon — no type of business appears to be immune. 

However, Dr. Bud Lawrence, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s medical director of emergency care, offered a few cautions Wednesday with respect to considering the outbreak data, concerns about the risk and, in general, disease-prevention tips for this time of year.

“I would just say that there is community spread — so certainly, work is something that is a risk, but also, so is going to the store and hanging out with friends,” Lawrence said. “It’s in the community, so we have to be vigilant. However, I don’t think that means you can’t live your life.”

Lawrence also reiterated the cautions that have been part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention messaging since early on in the pandemic, regarding hand sanitization, mask wearing and avoidance of touching the face, as much as possible.

Lawrence added some information has evolved as the CDC has gleaned new information since the onset.

“As with most viruses, people are infectious before they have symptoms,” Lawrence said, which means some people unknowingly could be contagious before they’ve been tested or while they’re waiting for results. 

As far as how long someone is contagious after contracting the virus, Lawrence said the hospital relies on a strategy derived from CDC guidelines that looks at when a person began to express symptoms:

“Generally speaking, the majority of time, we’re doing a non-test-based strategy for how contagious you are and when you can return to work, and essentially, if you started having symptoms more than 10 days ago, and at least 24 hours have passed since your last fever and your symptoms are improving, the CDC feels that you’re no longer contagious,” Lawrence said. “It’s bounced around quite a bit and these are continuously updated recommendations.”

He added that this was a general scenario, and individuals with compromised immune systems or those who became severely ill with COVID-19 might be advised to wait 20 days. Lawrence recommended taking cues from the state’s Public Health website or the CDC for recommendations and protocols.

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