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Category: Articles

Alameda County COVID-19 Testing Task Force Formed

The Alameda County Public Health Department has formed a COVID-19 Testing Task Force to develop and implement a coordinated testing program to address disparities, ensure countywide access, and support the County’s COVID response. We are mindful of public concern about COVID-19 testing and support strategies that help community members and critical infrastructure workers to make informed decisions about their health and that of their families.

Through increased coordination of existing testing capacity as well as public-private partnerships with cities, health care providers, and non-traditional providers, our goal is to reach 2,500 COVID- 19 tests per day countywide, with testing of all symptomatic individuals. This strategy is closely aligned with our overall COVID-19 response, which includes investigating every reported case, extensive contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, outbreak mitigation, and protecting high-risk individuals and health care workers.

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Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper?

We asked the experts to answer questions about all the places coronavirus lurks (or doesn’t). You’ll feel better after reading this.

When we asked readers to send their questions about coronavirus, a common theme emerged: Many people are fearful about tracking the virus into their homes on their clothes, their shoes, the mail and even the newspaper.

We reached out to infectious disease experts, aerosol scientists and microbiologists to answer reader questions about the risks of coming into contact with the virus during essential trips outside and from deliveries. While we still need to take precautions, their answers were reassuring.

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Alameda County Face Covering Emergency Order

…This Order will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 17, 2020, and will continue to be in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer. But this Order will not be enforced until 8:00 a.m. on April 22, 2020.…

…As used in this Order, a “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering. Examples of Face Coverings include a scarf or bandana; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A Face Covering may be factory-made, or may be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials…

…All members of the public, except as specifically exempted below, must wear a Face Covering outside their home or other place they reside in the following situations:

a. When they are inside of, or in line to enter, any Essential Business (as that term is defined in Section 13.f of the Health Officer’s Order No. 20-04, dated March 31, 2020 (“Order No. 20-04”)), including, but not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, and restaurants;
b. When they are inside or at any location or facility engaging in Minimum Basic Operations or seeking or receiving Essential Government Functions (as defined in Sections 13.g and 13.d, respectively, of Order No. 20-04);
c. When they are engaged in Essential Infrastructure work (as defined in Section 13.c of Order No. 20-04);
d. When they are obtaining services at Healthcare Operations (as defined by in Section 13.b of Order No. 20-04)—including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, other healthcare facilities, mental health providers, or facilities providing veterinary care and similar healthcare services for animals—unless directed otherwise by an employee or worker at the Healthcare Operation; or
e. When they are waiting for or riding on public transportation (including without limitation any bus, BART, , or CalTrain) or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.

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No, You Don’t Need To Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here’s How To Shop Safely

The vast majority of the country is under lockdown right now. But stay-at-home orders come with a few exceptions — like grocery shopping.

Many of us are still venturing out to stock up on food and toiletries. But what’s the safest way to shop during this pandemic? And what should you do once you’ve brought your haul home?

We asked infectious disease, virology and food safety experts to share their tips about safe grocery shopping — and what you can stop worrying about.

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Stanford Wins Approval For Antibody Test

The FDA has approved an antibody test by Stanford University to determine if someone has contracted the coronavirus even if they have already recovered. The widely used nasal swab tests can only detect an active infection.

“We don’t really know that these antibodies provide immunity, that’s one of the things that we’re trying to figure out very quickly,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and professor at the Stanford School of Medicine. “We just know that the antibodies are directive against the virus, and what we think that will show us is whether someone has been infected or not.”

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Why it can be so hard to tell if you have Covid-19

What are the signs you have been infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus? That’s become a surprisingly tricky question to answer, and it’s hampering the fight against the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the main symptoms of the illness are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, appearing between two and 14 days after exposure.

However, some patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, have experienced completely different symptoms, like vomiting and loss of taste and smell. Some people’s Covid-19 symptoms overlap with those of other illnesses like influenza, making these infections hard to distinguish without testing. And some infected patients have reported no symptoms at all.

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Fremont opens free COVID-19 testing center

The Fremont Fire COVID-19 Testing Center, located at the Fremont Fire Tactical Training Center, 7200 Stevenson Blvd. (click for map), was created to help alleviate the pressure on hospital emergency departments, provide faster test results for recently exposed first responders and front line healthcare workers, and to increase our community’s ability to suppress new transmissions through isolation after testing.

To receive a COVID-19 test, each person will be screened as part of a two-part testing process and must have a fever over 100 degrees and be symptomatic for COVID-19. Symptoms for COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest and/or other respiratory symptoms. A referral from a medical doctor is not required to be screened.

Testing at the Fremont Fire COVID-19 site will be organized using a drive-thru system and individuals seeking the test will need to remain inside a vehicle. No walk-up tests will be permitted.

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It’s Still Safe to Order Food Delivery From Restaurants. Just Take These Basic Precautions.

In many cities right now, supporting your local restaurant means ordering takeout or delivery, but even if you’re not dining in a crowded restaurant, you may be wondering how vigilant you should be about the food that comes via these delivery services. (You may be wondering about sanitizing your groceries, too, which we’ve also addressed.) Here are the best things you can do when you’re receiving delivered restaurant food.

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Should You Sanitize Your Groceries?

With the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are cooking from home more than ever before. Though you’re probably doing your best to practice social distancing and stay inside, you may be wondering if the food, packaging, and grocery bags you bring into your home need to be sanitized. It’s a valid concern, considering all of the hands that have touched the apples in your fridge or the cans of tuna in your pantry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), transmission of the virus is far more likely to spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person and much less likely via surfaces, materials, or food. So you probably don’t need to do more than what’s usually recommended to safely sanitize surfaces and prepare food. That said, we understand that you may have specific questions about the risks. Here’s what you need to know about handling grocery bags, packaged food, and produce after you return from the store or when you have food delivered to your door.

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