By OC Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

Obviously, the topic on everyone’s mind right now is the coronavirus, referred to by health care professionals as COVID-19. While our public health officials tell us the risk for the general public remains low for all of us here in Orange County, it is important to know how you can prevent the spread of the virus, symptoms to look out for, and what to expect moving forward.

The County of Orange Health Care Agency (HCA) has been working around the clock since the discovery of COVID-19 in the U.S. We take the health and safety of our Orange County residents seriously and are taking every precaution to be prepared, should a local outbreak occur.

On February 26, the Board of Supervisors, along with our County Health Officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, declared a local emergency and a local health emergency to prepare for COVID-19. Luckily, both the state and federal governments have done the same.

This declaration assists the County to better leverage resources from both the State and Federal government to prepare for staffing needs, greater agency coordination, and future reimbursement for County activities in the event of a COVID-19 surge in Orange County.

Every person has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Many of the same steps you take to protect yourself and others during the normal flu and cold season should be adhered to when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID 19. Examples include:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home from work, school or away from other people if you yourself are feeling sick with symptoms like fever or cough.
  • Stay up to date on guidance from your local public health officials.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have a serious chronic medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or are an older adult, please call your health care provider immediately. In order to protect our older adults, there will be no visitation from nonessential medical persons allowed at senior facilities.

Orange County is fortunate enough to have been approved to conduct testing for the virus at our Public Health Laboratory and will continue to test those who have been approved for testing, by their health care provider. There has been an increase in testing abilities from private labs, and you may also request a test from your primary care doctor.

Information on this issue is constantly changing, and we are doing more every day to better understand this virus and its possible effect on our communities.

For the most up-to-date information on Orange County confirmed cases; local, state, and federal guidance; and related alerts, you can visit ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus, call the OC Health Care Agency’s Health Referral Line daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (800.564.8448) and monitor County social media sites.

You can also sign up for my e-newsletter on my website, d5.ocgov.com, for weekly updates on the current COVID-19 situation and other district specific information.

With your cooperation, we will tackle this virus. Stay informed, stay healthy!

Lisa Bartlett is the District 5 representative for the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She was reelected in 2018.

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