Coronavirus: 5 new Bay Area cases; Alameda County declares health emergency

Public health officials on Sunday announced five new cases of coronavirus in Northern California, including three new cases in Santa Clara County, and two health workers who were likely infected while exposed to a patient in Solano County.

The two Bay Area health care workers are "presumptive positive" with COVID-19 coronavirus, the Alameda County Health Department reported on Sunday. A presumptive positive case is a person who tested positive by a public health laboratory and is pending confirmatory testing at the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Both patients are NorthBay VacaValley Hospital health care workers and are currently in isolation at home; one is a Solano County resident, the other is an Alameda County resident, according to health officials. Both also had exposure to the community-acquired case currently hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The woman in the initial case is slowly recovering, health officials said, and her family members had negative test results for COVID-19 so far and remain in quarantine.

“In her stay there of several days, there were many health care workers who came into contact with her," said Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas. "We were aware of that once we learned about her situation, North Bay hospital and public health officials very aggressively identified everyone who could have possibly had contact with her and then quarantined them." 

Maytas added the "good news is that the ill health care workers, none of them are ill enough to require hospitalization." 

Public health and hospital staff said they quickly identified all health care workers in contact with the person during his or her hospitalization. All of those health care workers remain in isolation or in quarantine and will not return to patient care until they are cleared, the health department said.

The announcement also brought Santa Clara County’s total to seven cases of the new virus, known officially as novel coronavirus or COVID-19, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said Sunday evening.

The fifth case involves an adult woman with chronic health conditions who was hospitalized. The sixth and seventh cases involve a husband and wife who recently traveled to Egypt. The husband has chronic health conditions, and the couple is currently hospitalized, according to the department.

A full contact investigation is underway for the two new health care worker cases, and individuals potentially exposed are in the process of being identified and evaluated.

Teams of epidemiologists from the CDC and California Department of Public Health are helping the health departments in tracing those who may be at risk for exposure because of the new cases.

Alameda County and Solano County Public Health Departments are monitoring these new cases’ conditions as well as their contacts for symptoms.

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Similar to the flu, it appears to cause less severe illness in younger people; those with more severe impacts tend to be older, medically fragile individuals with underlying medical conditions.

Health care organizations, government entities, schools and employers should plan now for how best to decrease the spread of illness and lower the impact of COVID-19.