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El Dorado County residents aboard cruiseliner test negative for coronavirus

Dawn Hodson / Mountain Democrat
Tents stand on a wharf near the Grand Princess at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 9. The cruise ship maintained a holding pattern off the coast for days.
AP photo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Thirteen El Dorado County residents were aboard the Mexico-bound Grand Princess ship where 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported, according to El Dorado County officials.

All were screened/assessed and either finished their 14-day self-quarantine without symptoms or were tested for COVID-19 and those tests were negative.

Officials expect to hear within the next 48 hours if any of the passengers on a different ship that docked in Oakland on Monday are from El Dorado County.

Indications are that at least one Shingle Springs couple may have been on that ship.

As of March 9 the El Dorado County Public Health Department continues to reassure residents that there are no confirmed cases of the disease in El Dorado County.

The California Department of Public Health reported that statewide as of March 8 there were a total of 114 positive cases and one death in California; 24 cases are from repatriation flights. The other 90 confirmed cases include 37 that are travel related, 23 due to person-to-person contact, 14 community-acquired and 16 from unknown sources.

The person who did pass away from the virus was a 71-year-old resident of Rocklin with underlying health problems.

Health officials believe the patient was exposed to the virus while on the Grand Princess cruise ship that left San Francisco Feb. 11 for a round-trip to Mexico, returning Feb. 21. The man tested positive on March3 and was subsequently isolated at Kaiser Roseville in “critically ill” condition. He died early the following morning, March 4.

Out of concern of catching the disease, a few schools in neighboring counties have shut down for a few days or longer or have gone through special disinfection regimens.

Officials at two Sacramento City Unified School District schools announced Friday that someone connected with the schools was potentially exposed to the virus and in self-quarantine, but both schools remain open after being deep-cleaned this past weekend.

In Placer County, some of the county’s school districts also increased their cleaning protocol, including cleaning desks, keyboards, doorknobs and even school buses.

The Elk Grove Unified School District announced March 6 that it was closing its schools and called off any student-related activities from March 7 through March 13, even though no student or any of its staff have yet tested positive for COVID-19.

The district, which serves approximately 64,000 students, won’t lose any school days because it is moving spring break up to this week instead of when it was originally scheduled in April.

On Saturday Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement warning that more school closures are likely around the state as the virus spreads.

In El Dorado County there are no plans to close any of the area schools according to Dina Gentry, communications director for the El Dorado County Office of Education, because there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county as of March 9.

As for county facilities, no special precautions are being taken other than providing information about how residents can protect themselves from coronavirus (and seasonal flu) via the county’s website.

“We are not sanitizing equipment, parks or buildings,” said Carla Hass, the county’s director of communications and outreach. “Employees may be taking it upon themselves to do so, but the public health officer has not directed nor suggested such specific steps in relation to county property.”

Steps the public can take to reduce the chance of contracting the virus include cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes. Frequent hand washing, not touching one’s hands to one’s face and avoiding those who are sick is also advised by the county health department.

El Dorado County recommends community members incorporate the following specific preventive steps into their daily routines:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home from work and school if you’re sick 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes
  • If you’re sick enough to seek medical care and think you have any respiratory illness, including COVID-19, be sure to alert the medical facility before arriving and follow directives to avoid exposing others.

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