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San Diego County officials urge coronavirus preparedness

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Posted at 5:23 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 21:01:11-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County Officials gathered to brief the community about a potential pandemic of the Coronavirus locally. Currently, there are no community-spread cases of the virus in the County. However, officials are asking the community to prepare for the event. They are also urging citizens not to panic.

Empty shelves line many big-box stores, as San Diegans fear a potential widespread Coronavirus pandemic, which would trap them in their homes for weeks at a time. But county officials said there is no need for hysteria.

"There is not a reason to panic, but we want people to be vigilant," Gary Cox, Chairman of the San Diego County Supervisors, said.

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"There is a needle to be thread frankly speaking, between adequate preparation versus reactive, inappropriate response," San Diego County Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Yphantides, said.

This does not mean for every San Diegan to run to the store and buy everything. While County Officials say community spread of the deadly virus is only a matter of time, extra supplies are something we should all have anyway, whether it is for an earthquake, fire, or Coronavirus.

"Have two, three, up to four weeks of supplies including food, beverages, water, any medications that you might need, as well as materials for your pets," San Diego County Public Health Officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

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Last week, the County health laboratory was stocked with 600 Coronavirus test kids. Now they are down to about 400. But with the possibility of a spread, new kits will be delivered to their lab by Friday.

"There is no commercial test available as of yet," Dr. Wooten said. "But that is on the fast track so that other entities like hospitals or urgent care centers can also test."

The County is now encouraging employers to keep sick workers at home, clean workstations, and be flexible with schedules and sick-leave policies.

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"Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions, minimize close contact with employees and the public, or what has been called social distancing," Jaymie Bradford, Executive Vice President of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, said.

If the disease spreads, they also have protocols with area schools.

"Our charge under state law is to stay open as long as our sites remain safe for students and staff. And we will honor that obligation until it is unsafe to do so," San Diego County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Paul Gothold, said.

If a person in San Diego test positive for Coronavirus, the County says military bases will no longer be used as Quarantine Centers. MCAS Miramar was only used temporarily for repatriated citizens who were overseas. New cases will be logged at hospitals, tested at the County lab, and quarantined at the patient's home.

"Individuals who become formal Persons Under investigation, our anticipation would be for those individuals to quarantine themselves at home," Dr. Yphantides, said.

County Health officials reiterated that the best way to protect yourself is to continue good hygiene. They are discouraging people from shaking hands and giving high-fives. Instead, to give elbow-bumps.