Mercer County understands that our residents are concerned about the coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to assure our residents that we share your concerns, which is why we are diligently working with state and federal health officials to provide you with the most current and accurate information. We will continue to keep you updated as more information is provided. For updated information, please continue to visit the official Mercer County website, as well as the state and federal links provided.
WHAT IS COVID-19?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 37 locations internationally, including cases in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
The CDC confirmed yesterday, February 27, an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in California in a person who did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19.
At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown. It is possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It is also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected. This case was detected through the U.S. public health system — picked up by astute clinicians. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States to 15.
The federal government has been working closely with state and local partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat. Unprecedented, aggressive efforts have been taken to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of this virus.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. CDC will continue to update the public as circumstances warrant. For more information about COVID-19 visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (NJDOH) is working hard to develop added guidance and educational materials, in the face of evolving information. NJDOH recommends that schools increase education on respiratory hygiene. Students, faculty and staff should all be asked to follow these steps that prevent the transmission of respiratory infections:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, not your hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Stay home if you are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects
- Get a flu shot
Added preventive measures include:
- Adhere to exclusion recommendations from public health. For acute respiratory illness, fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
- Separate sick students and staff from others
- Provide adequate supplies, including clean and functional handwashing stations, soap, paper towels and alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Encourage routine cleaning
For handouts and posters on the coronavirus to share with your coworkers, family and friends, please visit the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/factsheets.html
As of February 27, the NJDOH guidance document for managing students (travelers) returning from China:
This guidance will change as more information becomes available. Please refer to this site and the NJDOH Communicable Disease Service Coronavirus guidance and resources page: https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covid2019_resources.shtml
At this time, the CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China. Updated travel information specific to COVID-19 can be found at:
Again, we will present you with updated information as it becomes available to us at Mercer County, and we assure you that we will actively collaborate with our partners in health at the state and federal levels.
Submitted by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and the Division of Public Health