Clark County Public Health announced its first case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, late Friday night. Since then, Public Health has identified a small number of people who had close contact with the case. Those individuals have been notified and are now in quarantine, where they will remain for 14 days.
Public Health also received results for two additional pending tests. Those results were negative.
Unlike with confirmed measles cases, Public Health is not announcing public locations the COVID-19 case visited. COVID-19 is spread through close contact (within 6 feet) and via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza spreads. It is not spread the same way as measles, which is airborne and can linger in the air for several hours. For this reason, listing places where a person with COVID-19 has been is not effective.
“Without close contact with an infected person, you are at extremely low risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and public health director.
The COVID-19 case, a male in his 70s, is currently hospitalized and remains in isolation. He did not recently travel to a country where the virus is spreading.
“This positive test result tells us the virus is circulating in Clark County,” Melnick said. “Now more than ever we should all be taking steps to protect ourselves and others from illness.”
Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against COVID-19. Public Health recommends people take the following actions to keep themselves healthy:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Stay home and away from others when sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
Public Health is not recommending any additional precautions to protect against COVID-19 at this time and is not recommending any restrictions on public events or gatherings at this time.
Those who have questions about COVID-19 can call The Washington State Department of Health novel coronavirus call center 6 am to 10 pm daily at 1.800.525.0127.
The Clark County Public Health novel coronavirus webpage has additional information about the virus, what’s happening in Clark County and how people can protect themselves from illness.