With Gov. Gavin Newsom launching his massive “Wear a Mask” public awareness campaign, funded largely by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (Facebook), Colusa County Public Health officials and the Centers for Disease Control are urging people to wear masks, while not losing sight of the primary methods that prevent people from getting sick in the first place: personal hygiene and avoiding close contact with other people.
“Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash for hands,” said Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly, during last week’s report to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors.
Newsom’s mask campaign is taking an aggressive approach to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the campaign will continue until at least the end of the year, state officials said it a press release.
Colusa County reported 60 active cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, (83 to date), 164 quarantined, 1 hospitalization, and zero deaths.
Colusa County Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory W. Burt, in a news release Friday, said more individuals are expected to be quarantined, as expected, as contact tracing continues.
“Compliance with public health protocols related to reducing virus transmission and spread of the virus are critical to maintaining community health,” he said.
According to Gov. Newsom, California is averaging about 7,900 new cases of COVID-19 per day.
Newsom said the state has also increased testing, averaging about 100, 000 tests per day (a record 127,000 tests on Saturday), with about 6.8 percent of the population testing positive.
“As testing goes up, the positivity rate goes up,” he said, at Monday’s press briefing.
Colusa County was also added to the Newsom’s “watch” list for targeted enforcement by state agencies for businesses to follow the CA Public Health safety guidelines on occupancy limits and other recommendations, which include posting signs for customers to wear a face covering.
While scientists work to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, people are encouraged to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds; keep a physical distance of 6 feet from others; clean and then disinfect frequently used surfaces; stay home if you are sick; avoid touching your face; cover your cough or sneeze; monitor your daily health by being alert to symptoms such as fever, couth, shortness of breath.
“This is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in setting where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet,” the CDC noted.
COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice, according to the CDC. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
The CDC said recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (asymptomatic) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Colusa County Public Health recommends people wear face coverings in public settings when keeping a physical distance is difficult to maintain. Health officials recommend a multi-layered cloth covering that reaches above the nose, below the chin, and fits snugly against the sides of the face. People should also be aware that putting on and taking off a mask should be done with clean hands to avoid self infection, and people are encouraged not to touch their faces and masks with their hands while wearing them.
Colusa County Public Health currently has 15 tracers that are backtracking to see if the rise in local COVID-19 cases can be linked to specific gatherings or business operations, but Kelly said that does not appear to be the case.
“The bottom line is this: people are moving around,” Kelly said. “With that movement you are going to have an increase in cases.”
While members of the public have asked health officials for specific locations of positive cases, officials equate that information as “outing” individuals for having the illness.
Kelly said people should assume that everyone they have contact with could transmit the virus.
While some blamed the Colusa County Board of Supervisors for “opening the county” too soon, causing an increase in COVID-19 by the action taken on May 27, officials said the issue then was about the protection of civil rights and the decision not to police activity.
Kelly said Colusa County residents have always – and still are – under state health guidelines, and has asked for people to take personal responsibility to take measures to protect their health and slow the spread of COVID-19, including the wearing of masks for the protection of others.
“We are just not going to enforce it,” she said.
Board Chairwoman Denise Carter also encouraged personal responsibility, and said staying healthy is the key to the county staying open.
At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, following a special meeting on Monday, all county staff have been directed to adhere to federal and state guidance, orders, directives, and statutes regarding COVID-19, in performing work for the county.
Additionally, the county will place necessary signage and controls for county buildings requiring the public to follow masking guidance while doing business in county facilities to the extent not exempt under state guidance.
In a press release, on Monday, county officials said the county may implement a related interim policy, if necessary, at their next meeting. ■