Public Health Emerging Issues – February 3, 2020

HOW MESA COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH IS RESPONDING TO CONCERNS ABOUT A NEW STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS 

The risk to residents in Mesa County and elsewhere in the United States remains low. However, we know our community is concerned and has questions. We are here to help provide answers. 

There have been 0 confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Mesa County. We update this information daily on our website

  • Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is ready to respond should a case of coronavirus be identified here. Our primary responsibility would be to promptly identify a suspected case and implement measures to prevent any additional spread of illness locally.
  • Mesa County Public Health is leveraging our community partnerships and has already been in touch with our regional preparedness, transportation (airport), education, emergency medical service (EMS) and healthcare partners to ensure we’re all ready to respond should a case be identified in Mesa County.
  • Based on the case definition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare providers should immediately notify Mesa County Public Health of a suspected case.
    • MCPH would immediately conduct an investigation to ensure the case definition is met, and if so, samples would be collected and sent for testing.
    • At this time, diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV is performed only at CDC with a turnaround time of about 1-2 days.
    • While testing was underway, MCPH would take steps to ensure the suspected case remained isolated and limited the potential spread of illness to other people.
  • If the sample was confirmed as 2019-nCoV, a community notification would be made.  We would issue a press release, post information to our website and social media channels and utilize our email distribution lists to ensure our community was informed.

What is a novel coronavirus?

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory symptoms, like a runny nose, cough, and sore throat. Coronaviruses can affect many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these viruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans. This particular coronavirus is not one of the common coronaviruses and has not been seen before. Because of that, we don’t know how it will behave.

What do we know about this novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

  • The symptoms associated with this illness are fever and pneumonia-like symptoms that typically accompany a lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath). 
    • The illness appears to be impacting people who have spent time in Wuhan, China. Additionally, the illness is impacting people who have had close contact with a person who has 2019-nCoV. 
    • The illness can spread from person-to-person as demonstrated by cases that haven’t had a history of travel to Wuhan, China. So far, this has happened among people who have had close contact with a known case.
  • From preliminary reports, the death rate associated with this novel coronavirus is approximately 2%. The deaths are primarily occurring among older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.

What is Mesa County Public Health doing?

  • As the local public health authority, we are working to keep local residents informed and updated on the issue and provide messaging around ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness.
  • Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is monitoring the situation and receives regular updates from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 
  • We are in communication with our healthcare partners and regional partners to provide updates on changes to testing or isolation guidelines, and other information or resources requested.
  • We will continue to investigate and test persons under investigation alongside CDPHE and the CDC and will provide updates if we have a person under investigation or a positive case.
  • Mesa County Public Health is monitoring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies at the local and regional level.
  • Our routine disease surveillance continues which includes data collection and analysis on causes of illness, injury, and death affecting Mesa County residents.   
  • Mesa County Public Health recommends everyone in our community practice measures to prevent the spread of illness, which include:
    • Stay home if you’re sick: Illnesses can spread easily from person-to-person. If you’re experiencing symptoms from an illness remain at home until you are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
      • Consider self-isolation: The most effective way to the person-to-person spread is to avoid close contact with others when you’re not feeling well.
    • Cover your cough: When an infected person coughs or sneezes, millions of tiny particles are released into the air. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow can stop these particles from becoming airborne and infecting others.
    • Disinfect high-touch surfaces: Droplets from an infected person can live on hard surfaces and then infect others. Use a disinfectant that’s effective against the type of virus you’re targeting. We recommend a bleach solution (one cup bleach per one gallon water) on commonly touched objects like light switches, doorknobs, remote controls, and telephones.
    • Wash your hands:  This is the most effective way to stop the spread of illness. Wash with soap and water when possible. If soap and water are not available, look for a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Consider a flu shot:  The likelihood of contracting influenza is far greater than novel coronavirus. The best protection against influenza is a seasonal vaccine. The Mesa County Public Health Clinic has flu vaccine available, don’t let cost be a barrier, we have options. Walk-ins at our clinic (510 29 ½ Rd in Grand Junction) are welcome for flu vaccine. 

Resources for Providers:

Mesa County Public Health has been in regular contact with healthcare providers in the area, CDPHE has created the following document as a resource. This includes information about isolation procedures at home if the patient does not require hospitalization.

Providers with questions or a suspected case should call the Mesa County Public Health 24/7 disease reporting and consultation line at 970-254-4120.

Links of Interest:

 

 

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