You probably saw the news about employees at a local hospital. Because these employees were in close contact with a confirmed case of the new coronavirus, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department gave them legal and specific instructions to stay at home and monitor their symptoms. When it comes to healthcare facilities, we are being extremely cautious. The goal of these actions is to prevent any further spread of the virus and to protect the health of the community.
What is a close contact? A close contact is someone who spent time face-to-face with a confirmed case for an extended period, such as days or hours. The Public Health Department is investigating and contacting people who were close contacts because they are at greatest risk of developing a novel coronavirus infection. The Public Health Department is also following up with people who had lesser degrees of contact.
Patients, visitors, vendors and other workers who were in waiting rooms or shared indoor spaces with a confirmed novel coronavirus case are not close contacts. Walking by the person or being briefly in the same room is not considered close contact.
It is critical that Bay Area residents take reasonable precautions but not let their fears lead to discrimination. I encourage you to stay alert and stay informed, but for now you do not need to change your daily routine or activities.
The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department continues to respond to this evolving situation and highly recommends common sense measures. We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of flu and other viruses that are circulating in our community. By doing common things – washing your hands frequently, covering your cough, cleaning surfaces, and more, you are helping to limit the spread of disease to our family, friends, co-workers, and community.
Thank you for staying informed as this situation evolves, and for helping us share accurate information.
All the best,
Sara H. Cody, MD, Health Officer and Director
County of Santa Clara Public Health Department