Officials at El Camino Hospital confirmed Friday that the county's new case of coronavirus was treated at its Mountain View campus, at a time when public concern about the virus and how to avoid it are on the rise.
The patient, an adult woman who had no known exposure to the virus through travel or contact with a known infected person, has received care from El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, the hospital confirmed Friday evening, Feb. 28.
The hospital cannot provide specific details regarding the patient in accordance with federal healthcare privacy laws, according to Richard Angeloni, the hospital's interim director of communications.
It has standard protocols in place for dealing with infectious diseases and is working closely with Santa Clara County Public Health Department, California Department of Public Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said in a written statement. It is following those agencies' guidelines and instruction in managing the situation.
"The health and well-being of our patients, visitors, and employees are our main priorities, and we take our responsibility to provide a safe environment and the best care very seriously," Angeloni said in a written statement.
In addition, visitors are being screened at the hospital's entrance and asked if they have been to China recently or if they have in contact with anybody who has.
The virus is spread person-to-person between those who are in close contact -- within about 6 feet -- with one another, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It seems to be spreading easily, and in some situations, among people who are not sure how or where they became infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
It is also possible the virus can spread if it is on a surface or object that someone touches before their mouth, nose or possibly eyes. "This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the CDC reports.
The agency has posted travel alerts advising people to avoid all non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, and suggests that seniors and people with chronic medical conditions consider postponing non-essential travel to Japan. It also recommends that people reconsider travel plans on cruise ship voyages into or within Asia for now.
The virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 57 locations internationally. It is believed to have originated in bats.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there have been 15 confirmed cases in the U.S. since Jan. 21, with more brought in to the U.S.
It's likely to continue to spread. The CDC reports that "current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic."
At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it," it says.
To prevent infection, people are encouraged to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand-washing is not available. People should cough into a tissue or an elbow, not their hands, then throw the tissue away and wash their hands. They should avoid touching their faces.
People should stay home when sick, until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medicines.
If you are sick with coronavirus, or think you are infected with it, you should stay home except to get medical care, separate yourself from other people and animals in your home, call ahead before visiting the doctor, wear a face mask, cover your coughs and sneezes, clean your hands often, avoid sharing personal household items and clean surfaces daily that are touched often. If you have a confirmed case, consult with healthcare providers and state and local health departments to determine when home isolation should end, according to the CDC.
The Mountain View-Los Altos High School District issued a statement from Superintendent Nellie Meyer laying out its protocols if the number of reported cases of coronavirus grows.
The Santa Clara County Health Department will notify the district if any students or families will be subject to quarantine. If students are quarantined, the schools will to help them work from home. After the quarantine, the health department will let people return to campus. Absences related to such quarantines would be excused.
Students who have returned from China, or who have had contact with a person who has returned from China, are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The schools will work with them so they can work at home and related absences will be excused.
In a Jan. 31 YouTube video, Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told parents about some steps the district will be taking to reduce the risk of infection. The district is monitoring absences and illnesses, deep-cleaning common and high-traffic areas and asking children to wash their hands before and after recesses. In addition, he advised that parents or children who are sick stay home, wash their hands regularly, and cover their mouths and use their sleeves to cough.
"Look, I'm just as nervous as you are. I have two kids who are in college and I have a son who's in the third grade and I want to make sure they're safe. I know that's what you care about also. I think we can do some reasonable things to make sure all of our kids stay safe," he said.
The district also has a 55-page plan laying out a clear chain of command and protocols in the case of a pandemic, not specifically the coronavirus. The district is in the process of reviewing the plan to see if anything should be changed to adapt it for the coronavirus, he said.
The Los Altos School District has posted information to its district website with the latest CDC recommendations and links to the county health department's webpage on the coronavirus.