We know people are anxious and concerned about this new virus. Because it is so new, there is still a lot we do not know, including exactly how it is spreads, how easily it spreads, and whether people with no symptoms can spread the virus.
One thing we do not know is whether masks will protect you from this virus, mainly because there is no evidence of person-to-person spread in our community right now. Our best advice right now is you don’t need to wear a mask since there is little risk of getting the illness.
The one exception is if you are sick with respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath – wear a mask to protect others. Simple surgical masks can help prevent spreading the flu and other viruses to your family, friends, colleagues, and community.
People who have traveled to where virus is circulating should closely monitor their health for 14 days after they have returned. If you begin to get sick with a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home and wear a mask around others in your household. Call your healthcare provider and let them know your travel history and your symptoms.
If you have mild symptoms like a cough, runny nose, or sore throat, you do not need to go to a hospital emergency department. Please do not go to an emergency department unless your symptoms are more severe, such as having difficulty breathing.
If you are at home sick, please wear a mask and separate yourself from others to protect them from your illness. If your symptoms get worse, contact your healthcare provider again to determine what treatment may be needed.
With any virus, we know they spread easily in large groups people. If you can, avoid large gatherings, especially if you do not feel well. And if you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, please do not attend Super Bowl parties this weekend. Whether it’s the flu or another virus, you can help us limit the spread of many illnesses by staying home when you are sick.
Responding to outbreaks like this one is what public health departments do. It is our responsibility to take action to limit the spread of disease and protect the public's health, and we thank you for doing your part.
Dr. Sara Cody
County of Santa Clara
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