Los Angeles–The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) continues to take steps to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. In LA County, as in counties across the US, the threat to the general public for contracting coronavirus remains low.
Although LA County only has one confirmed case of novel coronavirus in a traveler from Wuhan, and there are only 11 cases diagnosed across the United States, there continues to be a significant increase in the number of people infected with this virus in China (over 17,000 cases as of today), and isolated evidence that there can be transmission from an asymptomatic person. As a result of the deteriorating situation in China, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency to allow local, state, and federal officials to fully coordinate responses in partnership with public health departments, emergency management teams, airports, health care professionals, and first responders. Late Friday, the White House issued a set of new directives that include the following:
- Restricting all foreign nationals who have traveled or been in China the last 14 days to enter the US. This order can be renewed by the President every 14 days.
- Requiring all US citizens and their close family members returning from China to enter through one of eleven airports in the US (including LAX), where they will be screened by US Customs and Border Protection agents. If travelers are showing signs of respiratory illness, they will be sent for additional testing to a health care facility. Those that were in the Hubei Province at any time in the past 14 days will be quarantined at a secure location and monitored for illness for 14 days from their last exposure. Returning travelers from other places in China who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus may also be subject to a quarantine for 14 days from last exposure. Returning travelers from all other parts of China who have not been in close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus will be allowed to travel to their final destination where they will be monitored by their local public health department and asked to remain in their homes and avoid public places for 14 days from last exposure.
In LA County, as in counties across the US, the threat to the general public for contracting novel coronavirus remains low. Public Health will be working with the state and federal government to implement the new directives to contain the virus and is taking the following actions:
- Assisting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the safe transport of travelers arriving in LAX from China who need to be quarantined; such travelers will be isolated at the quarantine station at LAX and then safely transported to and quarantined at a military base in Riverside County where they will be monitored and supported by personnel at the base.
- Updating and distributing guidance to local healthcare providers around screening and treating people with suspected cases of novel coronavirus.
- Working with schools, colleges and universities to ensure compliance with new guidance from CDC that excludes newly arriving travelers from China from public settings, including schools, for 14 days from their last exposure.
- Providing accurate information to community residents through multi-lingual communications using print, radio, tv and social media outlets as well as delivering packets of fact sheets about novel coronavirus to over 800 community-based organizations.
- Establishing protocols for monitoring the health of US citizens and their family members returning from China who are in LA County and need to remain in their homes for up to 14 days; this includes making sure they receive appropriate services and testing should they become ill within 14 days of last exposure.
- Continued monitoring of all people identified as close contacts of any confirmed cases to assess health status, and, where appropriate, issue exclusion requirements in accordance with CDC directives.