Mar 6, 2020
by Lynda Hopkins, 5th District Supervisor - Sonoma County
Continue to wash your hands (and face); avoid touching your face; cough/sneeze into your elbow; and stay home if you’re sick. Bust out that thermometer and check your temperature. Remember that there are a variety of viruses going around our community — not just coronavirus*. So try to avoid anxiety or panic if you do fall ill, because you may well just have a common cold!
Extra Info from Washington Post article via Sonoma County Gazette:
*[ 80 percent of illnesses are mild. If everyone with a cold floods their local emergency rooms, it will be harder for health-care workers to treat patients who are critically ill. Plus, you could pick up the virus in the hospital if you don’t already have it.
“If you feel well enough that if it weren’t for coronavirus you wouldn’t see a doctor, don’t see a doctor,” said Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.]
We finally received a COVID-19 test kit which will enable us to test for novel coronavirus locally. I want to give a huge shout-out to Senator Mike McGuire and Congressman Mike Thompson for leaning in and fighting hard for Sonoma County to be able to stand up our local lab testing. I spoke with Senator Mike McGuire about the local lack of test kits on election night; he immediately worked to schedule a phone call with the head of the state health labs; and Congressman Thompson’s staff has been tracking this issue with us as well. It was a County/State/Federal effort to ensure we received a test kit in order to be able to test for COVID-19 here in Sonoma County.
· Test kit was received this morning containing 220 tests
· Lab is verifying the kit performance and electronic reporting to CalREDIE via our laboratory information system
· Testing will begin tomorrow - Daily test capacity is 14 patients
· Local test capacity avoids shipping delays of 1-2 days and testing backlogs at the CDC and CDPH lab
· Rapid availability of test results increases the efficiency of the public health response to COVID-19
· 900 additional COVID-19 tests are on order
· Monday-Friday test results will be available next day and same day if the sample arrives in the lab by 9am
· Weekend testing to be determined
You may have been reading about faulty test kits, and lack of COVID-19 test kits nationally. At Wednesday’s emergency Board of Supervisors meeting, Public Health Officer Dr. Celeste Philip, Director of Health Services Barbie Robinson, and Emergency Management Director Chris Godley gave a presentation on the coronavirus. At the time, Dr. Philip noted that “testing is limited,” and we are “awaiting test kits.” Because of the local lack of test kits, as Dr. Philip said, “We are trying to focus on the most critically ill.” She also noted, “We now believe that there are a number of other people in our community that have been exposed… Because of the time lag, there was about a week that we were unaware.”
To be clear, our Health Director requested these test kits early on, but we did not receive them until today. Prior to receiving these still-limited number of tests, we were subject to substantial shipping delays and testing backlogs — essentially test rationing — at both the CDC lab (in Atlanta, GA) and CDPH lab (Richmond, CA). This limited our ability to test or screen patients.
I know I represent many constituents who are in higher risk categories for complications of coronavirus, from immunocompromised residents to those with existing medical conditions to our elders. So I think it is important to be honest and transparent as we move forward about what our challenges have been, and what to expect going forward.
I have the utmost faith in our Public Health Department and Emergency Management team, who are working around the clock to keep our community as prepared and safe as possible. I have also been working with service providers and County staff on a secondary crisis response. (Namely, if people are sick and out of work, is there some way to support them with emergency rental assistance and food? Many local employees do not have substantial paid sick leave or an ability to telecommute. We need to ensure that people aren’t going to work sick just because they have no other way of paying their bills.)
While your local representatives are working hard to protect and support Sonoma County residents, the response from the Trump administration has been utterly inadequate. Counties and states should not be fighting over test kits. They should be widely available. Other countries are manufacturing test kits by the millions and testing people on mass scales, screening anyone with the slightest symptom of disease. South Korea, for instance, can screen 10,000 people a day.
On Monday March 2, we announced our first local coronavirus case. By Tuesday, Sonoma County was home to 1 out of only 60 positive coronavirus cases in the United States. On Thursday March 5, we became home to 2 out of 99 positive coronavirus cases in the United States. Surely, that early concentration in a small county should have immediately merited an ability to test locally for the disease. But it took local leaders fighting hard on your behalf in order to secure a test kit. That shouldn’t be the way things work.
To make matters worse, the first test kits manufactured by the CDC were faulty — news source citation in comments — and the recently released CDC guidelines for response to coronavirus depend on… you guessed it… an ability to widely test for the virus. Which still doesn’t exist. (Tell me again how gutting the CDC’s budget made America great?)
We should not be fearful, but we should be informed and prepared. Because testing has been limited to this point, we don’t have a full grasp of the potential extent of the coronavirus in our communities. Do not be surprised if we see more local cases as we are able to test more patients in the coming days. Any initial uptick we may experience will not be indicative of a sudden, dramatic spread, but rather our newly expanded testing capacity.
In the meantime, continue to wash your hands (and face); avoid touching your face; cough/sneeze into your elbow; and stay home if you’re sick. Bust out that thermometer and check your temperature. (I personally developed a fever today, so I‘m following the County’s advice by staying home and skipping the Democratic Crab Feed tonight.) Remember that there are a variety of viruses going around our community — not just coronavirus. So try to avoid anxiety or panic if you do fall ill, because you may well just have a common cold!
For now, let’s all wash our hands. And hopefully, in November, we can wash the White House. I’m one of those people who likes to use natural cleaning products... but I’m thinking the White House may need a few swimming pools’ worth of bleach at this point.
extra Info from WP article via Sonoma County Gazette
[ 80 percent of illnesses are mild. If everyone with a cold floods their local emergency rooms, it will be harder for health-care workers to treat patients who are critically ill. Plus, you could pick up the virus in the hospital if you don’t already have it.
“If you feel well enough that if it weren’t for coronavirus you wouldn’t see a doctor, don’t see a doctor,” said Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
It’s a good idea to call your primary-care doctor if you have both a fever and a cough, said Maria Raven, chief of emergency medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.}
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