LocationAlhambra , CA
Rumors are rampant on social media and throughout various ethnic communities that the coronavirus originating in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China has reached the San Gabriel Valley.
Those rumors are false.
There are literally only a f ew reported cases in the United States. No cases have been reported in the Alhambra Unified School District, which encompasses Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park and Rosemead, any local hospitals nor the wider San Gabriel Valley.
Nevertheless, some Lunar New Year activities have been impacted by concerns over the virus. In Alhambra, the organizers of the Lunar New Year Festival scheduled for this weekend informed City Hall that they are postponing the event over vendors concerns that attendance would be impacted by the virus situation. No new date for the festival has been announced.
Only three coronavirus cases have been reported in California of the seven nationwide. The California cases were reported in Los Angeles County and Orange County and, on Friday afternoon, a third case was reported in Santa Clara County in the Bay Area. The one case of person-to-person spread was the husband of someone with the virus, in Chicago. They are both hospitalized, according to the Associated Press.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a public health emergency setting in motion a plan to coordinate worldwide containment efforts. But this step, taken on January 30, doesn’t mean it is currently a threat in the San Gabriel Valley.
No person-to-person spread has been reported in western United States.
“While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus page says. It is constantly being updated as information becomes available.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health posted answers to some frequently asked questions, including travel dates for possible exposure and incubation. There are English, Chinese and Spanish versions.
Travelers to and from Wuhan since December 1, 2019, may have been exposed. That does not mean they have contracted the virus, however. It takes about 14 days to develop symptoms.
If you or a family member have traveled to Wuhan or the surrounding province, it is important to monitor your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing for two weeks. It is also important not to panic.
Health officials believe the virus is spread in similar ways to the flu, from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
While it may be hard to stay calm with Lunar New Year events locally being altered and reports of panic overseas, the real threat in the U.S. is the seasonal flu.
The CDC estimates that from October, 2019 to January, 2020, there have been between 15 and 21 million flu illness cases and between 8,000 and 20,000 deaths in the United States.
By comparison, there are now under 200 coronavirus deaths worldwide in roughly the same time period. The odds are astronomically higher that a person will contract the flu in the San Gabriel Valley.
Last year’s flu season sickened roughly 35.5 million people and killed 34,200 people in the United States.
Symptoms of the flu include body aches, runny or stuffy nose, tiredness, sore throat and feeling feverish or chills. Children more commonly experience vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone will have the same symptoms.
The best way to prevent the spread of illness and protect yourself is to practice proper hand washing, take care of your body by getting enough sleep and eating well, and stay home if you are already sick and seek medical attention. Relying on masks and hand sanitizer in public will not prevent illness.
The Alhambra Unified School District sent a bulletin to parents on January 27 with factual information about the coronavirus and recommendations to keep AUSD families safe. There are English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese versions.
The development of the coronavirus in the U.S. novel. Knowledge about the coronavirus and the more common flu may be helpful in dealing with the health implications as the weeks go forward and to avoid spreading panic in the community.
For more general information on the coronavirus, go to the Centers for Disease Control’s summary page.
For estimates about the 2019-2020 flu season from the CDC, visit the flu estimates page.
The Alhambra Source will continue to follow the coronavirus.
Updated 3:10 p.m. on 1/31/20 to include a third California case in Santa Clara County .