In the face of a significant increase in the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) in mainland China, many LA County residents are worried and fearful. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health (Public Health) urges residents and visitors to get the facts and take positive steps to reduce their risk.
There is only 1 case of novel coronavirus in LA County, in a non-resident traveler from Wuhan City, and there has been no subsequent community transmission of the virus. There are only 12 cases of novel coronavirus across the entire United States and while it is likely that there will be additional cases, actions have been taken to limit the spread of the virus in our country. Recent travelers who have visited mainland China are screened at the airport and provided with information about restricting their movements, monitoring their health and connecting with their provider and local public health department should they feel ill for 14 days after last being in mainland China. Guidance has been sent to school districts, universities and colleges explaining the new directives which restrict staff and students who returned from traveling in mainland China after February 2, for 14 days after leaving mainland China. These actions can help identify individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and reduce the spread of the virus to others.
With rising reports of reduced patronage of Chinese owned businesses, bullying and stigmatization on school and college campuses, and rampant xenophobia on social media, Public Health is encouraging people to focus on facts, not fear. The fact is novel coronavirus is NOT currently spreading in the community in Los Angeles County nor in the United States, and immediate risk to the general public in Los Angeles County is low. Residents can continue to enjoy all their usual activities and feel comfortable eating and shopping at restaurants and stores that are owned and operated by our Chinese neighbors and friends.
“Discrimination targeting our Asian American and Chinese American friends, neighbors, and businesses is harmful to our entire community,” said Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., MPH, MEd. “This is not the time for the perpetuation of stereotypes and misinformation about novel coronavirus. Public Health encourages everyone to continue to enjoy all that our Asian communities have to offer.”
“People have a right to be afraid, but must understand that outbreaks and pandemics are human tragedies that impact us all directly or indirectly as ONE diverse community,” Dr. Muntu Davis, County Health Officer, added. “Embracing, not stigmatizing, others and spreading accurate information about what’s happening locally is what helps manage our fear and both the individual and collective actions needed to protect our entire community.”
Public Health continues to recommend that the public do the following to protect themselves from all respiratory illnesses:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
- Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and people who are sick.
- Get a flu immunization to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.
Please continue to offer welcoming environments for ALL members of our community. Neither the California State Public Health Department nor Los Angeles County Public Health recommends that any normally scheduled events be canceled due to novel coronavirus. There is no community spread of the novel coronavirus in the Unites States at this time, and the risk to the general public remains low.
Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus
- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
- California Department of Public Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization