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Tuolumne County Preparing To Handle Coronavirus

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Sonora, CA — There have been no cases of coronavirus in Tuolumne or surrounding counties, but plans are being developed for the increasing likelihood that it arrives at some point.

The board of supervisors heard an update on the local response to COVID-19 at today’s meeting.

Clarence Teem, the EMS Coordinator for the county, emphasized, “At this time, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Tuolumne County, or the surrounding counties. There have been five returning travelers who have transited through China to Tuolumne County, none of them traveled through Hubei Province, and those travelers have passed through the 14 day incubation period and are not a threat to spread COVID-19…the risk of contracting  COVID-19, or coming into contact with a COVID-19 patient, in Tuolumne County, remains low.”

He went onto state, “Tuolumne County Public Health, local healthcare providers, and public safety agencies are coordinating efforts to increase the capabilities of responding to COVID-19. Tuolumne County Public Health Department has activated its department activation center to facilitate interagency coordination and communication during this outbreak.  Daily surveillance efforts are continuing with increased attention paid to respiratory illnesses.”

He said there is also an active effort to make sure local health providers have supplies they need.

Ways that Teem highlighted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include covering your mouth and nose with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve or elbow. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also, don’t visit anyone who is sick, and stay at home If you get sick.

Dr. Eric Sergienko, who is the Public Health Officer for Mariposa County, and Interim Health Officer in Tuolumne County, told the supervisors that he feels it is “inevitable” that COVID19 will arrive in the area at some point, given the recent spread, so it is important to take prudent measures. Dr. Sergienko added, “Those are works in progress, to be honest. You’ve probably heard things like shutting down businesses and shutting down schools. We really, at this point, don’t know enough about the virus to make those sort of decisions, but we may need to make those decisions in short order.  So, as we move forward with plans, we will ensure to keep you (board of supervisors) advised about what we can best direct based on the science that is available to us.”

The supervisors directed the health officials to come back with an update at the next meeting in two weeks. The board also noted that it will call for a special meeting ahead of time if the need arises, as this is an issue that many people in the community are concerned about.

There have been nearly 100,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide and over 100 cases in 15 US States. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including, fever, cough and shortness of breath.