Coronavirus: More Than Half of State’s Cases are Right Here

On Super Bowl Sunday, Santa Clara County public health officials confirmed a second case of the coronavirus strain that made its way from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China—where live animals were sold before it was shuttered by Chinese officials—to the heart of Silicon Valley.

Minutes after the Kansas City Chiefs dashed the Bay Area’s home football team’s chances for its first Super Bowl victory in 25 years, neighboring San Benito County confirmed two infections, which means that four of California’s six cases are located in the two counties here. The virus has killed 294 people in Hubei, the province that includes the city of Wuhan, and 10 in other provinces, according to a BBC report.

“The second [Santa Clara County] case is not related to the first case,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, in a statement released Sunday afternoon. “There is no immediate threat to the general public.”

“I understand that people are concerned, but based on what we know today, the risk to the general public remains low,” Cody assured. “A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases, including close contacts to our cases.”

Santa Clara County case No. 2 is unrelated to the first one. Like the first patient, she had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, according to health officials. She is a visitor that arrived Jan. 23 to visit family. She has stayed home since she arrived, except for two trips to seek outpatient medical care. She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized.

Family members have also been isolated, which means that they do not leave the house, even to buy groceries. The Public Health Department provides food and other necessities.

Santa Clara County residents, students, workers and visitors should continue to engage in regular activities and practice good health hygiene since this is the height of flu season, said the health department. Healthy people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin or recent travel. Anyone with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat or fever should stay home, practice proper cough etiquette and hand hygiene and limit contact with others.

Also on Sunday, two cases of the same “2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” were confirmed in San Benito County, public health officials there announced.

“The confirmed cases are related: a husband and wife, and both are 57 years of age,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, San Benito County Health Officer, at a hastily called press conference in Hollister Sunday evening.

“The husband recently traveled from Wuhan, China the wife did not,” he said. “Therefore, there has been person-to-person transmission.”

Both patients have not left their home since returning from China, Fenstersheib said, nor have they been hospitalized.  He said county Public Health Services provided guidance for home isolation and is closely monitoring their medical condition.

San Benito County Public Health Services is maintaining contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health, and is following all recommended guidelines, the health director said.

He offered this guidance: If you have not been to China or been in close contact with someone who has been to China and is sick, your risk is very low.  CDC guidance indicates that people who have casual contact with a case (in the same grocery store or movie theater, for example) are at minimal risk of developing infection.

If you have recently been to China and feel sick, please stay home and avoid contact with others. Contact your doctor’s office or emergency room and tell them about your recent travels and symptoms.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely to protect the health of San Benito County residents and limit the spread of this virus,” Fenstersheib said. “We are working closely with Bay Area health officials, local health care providers and community partners.”

One Comment

  1. Just wondering . . .

    I understand that the coronavirus is only a bit more virulent than common flu virus.

    What is the point of trying to control the spread of a virus that is transmitted human to human?

    It seems to me that no amount of bureaucratic effort will completely prevent the spread of the virus, and so the only question is whether it will spread slowly or spread quickly?

    How much effect do virus control efforts actually have?

    In the absence of an effective vaccine and wide inoculations, why not just let nature take it’s course?

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