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Napa County supervisors warned to expect coronavirus spread

Napa County supervisors warned to expect coronavirus spread

From the Complete coronavirus coverage from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series

Napa County as of Tuesday morning had no known cases of new coronavirus, though county health officials are preparing for person-to-person transmission.

“We are seeing in our surrounding Bay Area region that this is happening,” county Public Health Officer Karen Relucio told county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “It’s just a matter of time.”

The risk of infection is still low, but rising, Relucio said. Her message – be aware, be prepared and don’t be scared.

The world has 113,702 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus—also called COVID-19—resulting in 4,125 deaths. The United States has 566 cases and 22 deaths. California has 133 cases and two deaths, health officials said.

Napa County before Tuesday had one person under investigation for COVID-19, Relucio said. She could report as of that morning that this person tested negative.

The county has focused on containment. That involves such things as monitoring travelers, isolating the sick and encouraging people coming from high-risk areas to self-quarantine with public health supervision.

Now the county is looking at the next phase of steps to deal with person-to-person transmission. That can involve “social distancing,” such as Santa Clara County’s recent move to ban events with 1,000 or more people.

“We’re not there yet,” Relucio said. “But that’s certainly something that could be coming down the pike.”

Social distancing can slow down the acceleration of cases and reduce the demand on hospitals, Relucio said. That gives more time for hospitals and the community to prepare for person-to-person transmission.

Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht asked how long the COVID-19 issue might last. Relucio said that, based on her experience with the 2009 H1N1 influenza, she wouldn’t be surprised if this went on nine to 12 months.

A difference is a vaccine for H1N1 was available in six months. In this case, health experts estimate developing a vaccine might take 12 months to 18 months, she said.

Supervisor Ryan Gregory asked what people should do if they feel the flu coming on.

“If they’re not sick enough to go seek medical care, we do recommend they stay home,” Relucio said. “Socially distance themselves, drink lots of fluids.”

Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza asked if there’s a segment of the population most at risk.

Most at risk for severe complications are those who are older than 60 years of age, or those with a medical condition such as hypertension, lung disease, cardio-vascular disease or a weakened immune system, Relucio said.

Pedroza brought up the situation of events that raise money for nonprofits, including health care, being canceled.

“There’s a lot of fear out there,” Pedroza said. “Our goal should be to have a safe community and we’re not compromising that. But how do we allow organizations and businesses to continue to operate without compromising the health of our residents and those who are supporting all of those organizations?”

That is the tough question, Relucio replied.

“We’re in a position where we have not seen community transmission yet,” Relucio said. “We’re actually getting a lot of questions about events. I think events that have less people are less risky.”

State health officials have said indoor events with more than 1,000 people are riskier, she said.

“We’re taking it case-by-case,” Relucio said. “I think probably the highest risk right now are if we have venues that are full of people who are more than 60-plus. Those are potentially risky for that population.”

Go to the county website at for more information on COVID-19.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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