Bay Area public health officials quell false information spread about coronavirus

While there aren’t confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Bay Area, one county health department scrambled Tuesday to stem false reports of at least one case.

A tweet, citing a nurse as the source, blared confirmation of the virus in East San Jose. However, KTVU confirmed the tweet is not true.

“We have no confirmed cases in the county of Santa Clara,” said county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “We have no evidence that the virus is circulating actually in the U.S., in California, or in the Bay Area.”

Cody says the county is investigating potential cases, but it’s too soon to make the leap, as they may not develop into the virus.

“What we’re trying to do here in the public health department is to get up to date, accurate information. And make it available for people to access," she said. "And the more accurate information we can put out on multiple channels, the better to counteract information that may not be accurate."

While the coronavirus has not spread in the Bay, San Francisco officials opened the city’s emergency operations center to track potential cases.

“We will be broadcasting in partnership with the (San Francisco) Department of Public Health, public health information about how to prevent the spread of the virus, and what to do to stay healthy during flu season,” said head of the city's emergency management department Mary Ellen Carroll.

San Mateo County health officials say they’re “working closely with the CDC and state department of public health (on the Coronavirus), but can’t be more specific about disease investigations.” 

Late Tuesday, state officials released a statement saying they’re "working with local health departments to identify and evaluate persons who may be infected.”

The Coronavirus started in Wuhan, China, 19 days ago, and has since spread to at least 19 countries including the U.S. The State Department has increased its China travel advisory to level three. Officials ask people to reconsider taking non-essential trips to that country. Officials at San Francisco International Airport have canceled all flights coming from Wuhan to the city.

A State Department official says a plane chartered to ferry Americans from Wuhan to the States left China. It’ll land in Anchorage, Alaska, first where passengers will be re-screened for the virus. It’ll then continue to Southern California. 

Health officials say the best way to prevent the spread of any virus is to wash your hands, stay home if sick, and if out with a cold, wear a mask to prevent the spread.