No new novel coronavirus cases have been reported in Santa Clara County and few new details about the virus are known publicly, county public health officials told a Board of Supervisors committee at a hearing Wednesday.
Dr. Sara Cody, the county's director of public health, updated the board's Health and Hospital Committee on the virus, saying that combating its spread is "the bread and butter work that we do in public health everyday."
The county currently has two confirmed cases of the virus. The first case, a man residing in the county, was confirmed on Jan. 31, and the second, a woman visiting the county, was confirmed on Feb. 2 after the woman came into the county Jan. 23. Both people infected have been quarantined at their homes by a legal order, Cody said.
"The pattern of work that we're doing is the same work that we do for measles or meningococcal disease or tuberculosis or syphilis or many other communicable diseases," Cody added, though she also said coronavirus is something "that we still don't know much about."
The virus has reportedly spread from Wuhan, China, to 16 countries and killed more than 2,000 people worldwide.
"I would say the biggest challenge is this is a new virus and there's still a lot we don't know," Cody said. "We still don't know basic information like: how long is someone infectious?"
But Cody said the county maintains that the coronavirus is not circulating through the public.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian asked Cody to reassure him and his constituents that the virus is not an immediate danger to the public.
Cody said the virus spreads "maybe a bit more" than the common cold, and spreads efficiently as the seasonal flu through human-to-human transfer.
"No one really knows what's going to happen next," Cody said. "We are all still learning."
She also said flights into Mineta San Jose International Airport that require screening are presently redirected to other airports. And while the county cannot immediately test to confirm a suspected case of the virus -- only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do that, Cody said -- the county could "probably in a matter of days" be able to conduct such tests, though there is not yet a certain date.
"Again, we have no evidence that the virus is circulating," Cody said.
But Simitian pressed further and asked if the public should be concerned about the spread of the virus in the county.
"No," Cody said. "We encourage everyone to go to school every day, go to work every day."
However, she did give a warning to the public.
"Stay home, if you're sick, with whatever you're sick with," Cody said.
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg also questioned Cody and thanked her and her teams for their work to maintain the safety of the county's public health. She asked Cody how much surveillance the health department does of the public to monitor a possible outbreak.
Cody said her teams work seven days per week, with a lighter team on the weekends, and mentioned that "staffing has been a challenge" since the start of the virus outbreak.
"I hope very soon that they have nothing left to do," Ellenberg said.