Clark County Public Health has 12 people under its supervision protocol for novel coronavirus, but none of them are showing symptoms of the disease.
All 12 people have been placed under supervision because they traveled to mainland China within the last 14 days. Public Health is asking that they stay home during the two-week period following their return to the U.S.
At one point, Public Health was monitoring as many as 15 people, but three people recently passed through the 14-day threshold without exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, according to Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick.
“They’re not the highest risk,” Melnick said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a federal quarantine guidance for COVID-19 that calls for anyone currently returning from mainland China to undergo a health screening upon arrival in the U.S. It also calls for those people to self-monitor themselves, and avoid public gathering places such as school and work for up to 14 days.
There are 322 people in Washington under public health supervision, according to Washington Department of Health statistics. So far, only one case has tested positive in the state — a man in Snohomish County. There have been 31 total novel coronavirus tests in Washington, with 26 negatives tests, one positive test and four pending results.
So far, the U.S. has 60 confirmed cases of the virus, 42 of which were passengers on a Diamond Princess cruise ship. There is one patient in California who has contracted the virus without traveling to any outbreak locations and wasn’t exposed to anyone known to be infected.
Melnick said that if someone locally started exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, they would be tested and potentially placed under active monitoring, which means Public Health would call them daily to make sure they are keeping themselves quarantined.
Public Health has already started an outreach and education process with local hospitals and schools, and the agency is readying “internal processes and tools, such as databases for monitoring and identifying points of contacts at other institutions (for example schools and hospitals),” according to an email from Clark County Public Health Information Officer Marissa Armstrong.
“We’re being very vigilant,” Melnick said.
Still, Melnick said people should remain calm, adding that people are at much more risk to contract the flu than they are to be infected with COVID-19. He thinks the situation is serious, but doesn’t want people to be paralyzed by fear and panic.
“The risk is really low, and people should feel confident about going about their day-to-day lives,” he said.