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Sacramento County shifts away from 14-day coronavirus quarantine for some

Up until now, many public health officials have encouraged people who might have come in contact with a coronavirus patient to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a move that surprised many, Sacramento County health officials on Monday announced that it was shifting away from the 14-day coronavirus quarantine guidance for some people.

Up until now, many Northern California public health officials have encouraged people who might have come in contact with a coronavirus (COVID-19) patient to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

The department released a statement saying that, because of the shift from containing the virus to mitigating its spread, "it is no longer necessary for someone who has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days."

The county is still asking people who are showing or developing respiratory symptoms to still stay at home.

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The announcement comes the same day that an Elk Grove Unified School District student tested positive for the virus. The student, who attends Maeola R. Beitzel Elementary School in the Vintage Park area of south Sacramento, was quarantined with other family members, two of whom tested positive.

Jonathan Eisien, a University of California, Davis biology professor, has been following developments closely and is concerned about Sacramento County's announcement, calling it "premature,"

Eisien said he thinks self-quarantining for anyone possibly exposed to the virus will help slow its spread.

"People still get infected, but they get infected over a month or year, not weeks," Eisien said. "And that means there will be hospital beds available."

But Roseville doctor Tom Hopkins says there is no need to quarantine for 14 days since the virus is already spreading in the state.

"What would you do if it was a bad flu season? What would happen," Hopkins asked rhetorically. "We wouldn't be quarantining. It wouldn't exist. There's no difference."

Despite the difference in interpretation of the Sacramento County announcement, both say one thing is clear: if anyone shows symptoms of sickness, they should stay home.

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BACKGROUND:

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.

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