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Monterey County begins preparation for possible coronavirus outbreak

No local cases reported yet, health officials say

MONTEREY COUNTY — Though there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Monterey County currently, the county’s team of public health professionals and medical providers have begun preparations for a potential outbreak.

“While there is great public concern about this virus, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Monterey County residents, and the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in our community is currently low,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County health officer, in a news release March 3. “However, we should all take sensible measures to keep ourselves and our families healthy.”

Monterey County Health Department has been monitoring the virus since December, when the first outbreak occurred in China. Since then, more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 86 countries and thousands have died from the respiratory disease, including 14 in the United States.

Local health officials have been “actively preparing in the event the virus is detected here,” the department announced this week.

The county’s preparation includes coordinating with area health partners, such as hospitals, urgent care centers, medical providers, laboratorians and medical first responders, to be ready to act accordingly. Monterey County’s Public Health Laboratory has also been trained to provide local testing for COVID-19 when testing materials are received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In addition, the Monterey County Operation Area Emergency Operations Center has activated to Level 3 — its lowest level — to support the Health Department and local health partners in monitoring and preparing for COVID-19 and to coordinate increased public information efforts,” the department reported. 

According to the Monterey County Health Department, the coronavirus outbreak continues to be an “evolving situation, with new information about affected individuals and updated guidance for reducing transmission of the virus coming out every day.”

The department suggests that residents follow the same steps they take each year to protect themselves against seasonal flu to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; 
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands; 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects often; 
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from a person who is ill; 
  • Consider delaying travel to areas with outbreaks of COVID-19; and 
  • If you haven’t already, get an influenza shot, as influenza is still circulating in communities. 

Anyone who is sick is advised to stay home and avoid public or crowded areas to keep from spreading the virus to others. They should also cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow and not their hands, the department said.

For more prevention tips, visit the Monterey County Health Department’s website

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.