Flattening the Curve - Flattening the curve refers to community isolation measures that keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers.
Clinicians should use their judgement to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Asymptomatic patients should NOT be tested. The COVID-19 test has not been validated for asymptomatic patients.
There are currently two testing options for COVID-19: commercial labs and Public Health Labs.
- For patients suspected to have COVID-19, providers may send specimens directly to commercial laboratories WITHOUT notifying Public Health about testing. However, if the patient is suspected for COVID-19 and associated with a vulnerable population, please promptly call the Communicable Disease Unit at 831-454-4114 and submit a CDC Person Under Investigation (PUI) form via fax 831-454-5049 or secure email HSACD@santacruzhealth.us.
- If a patient meets clinical and/or epidemiological criteria, providers may choose to coordinate with Santa Cruz County Public Health to send specimens to a Public Health Lab (PHL). For guidance on how to order COVID-19 testing through a Public Health Lab, please see: Local Guidance for COVID-19: Testing and Reporting.
Please report all lab-positive cases of COVID-19 by immediately calling the Communicable Disease Unit (CDU) at 831-454-4114 (Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM). If after hours or on weekends, call 831-471-1170 and ask for the Health Officer.
For more information on testing and reporting COVID-19 cases, please see the links in the Instructions and Lab Information section below.
Updates & Instructions
March 29, 2020: COVID-19 Press Conference
Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel conducted a press conference announcing the first death from COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County.
March 17, 2020: COVID-19 Press Conference
Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel conducted a press conference announcing the current status of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
March 13, 2020: COVID-19 Santa Cruz Sentinel Interview
Santa Cruz County Health Services Director Mimi Hall, left, and Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel, center, offer the latest coronavirus update at the Santa Cruz Health Center on Friday. (Jessica A. York — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
March 9, 2020: COVID-19 Press Conference
Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci and HSA Director Mimi Hall conducted a press conference announcing the current status of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
March 7, 2020: COVID-19 Press Conference
Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel and HSA Director Mimi Hall conducted a press conference announcing the current status of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
We are experiencing a global outbreak of a new illness called novel coronavirus or COVID-19. While the illness started in China, it has spread throughout the world. (You can see the current U.S. case count of COVID-19 here
.) Because this virus is new, there is little to no pre-existing immunity to the virus, so it spreads quickly. On March 11, the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
COVID-19 is not the same as usual coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans
and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. Older people and people of all ages with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
The County of Santa Cruz Public Health Division has been working closely with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as our state, regional and local partners to manage testing and monitoring of persons who have been exposed to COVID-19. County Public Health is planning for a sustained response and focused on reducing the impact of the disease, which includes advising all sectors of the community to take immediate steps to be prepared.
Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area – this includes individuals who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath. Some people may have pneumonia or more serious illness.
The County of Santa Cruz is currently under a Shelter in Place order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Shelter in Place requires that people remain at home unless they are completing an essential activity such as getting food, visiting the doctor, or caring for a family member.
Although these measures can cause disruption to the local economy and our daily lives, they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and protect overall community health. See the Shelter in Place guidelines for more details.
- Get your flu shot to protect against flu, which is now widespread and has symptoms like the ones for COVID-19.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, rub for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, sleeve or arm. Do not use your hand.
- Stay home if you are sick with a fever, cough, shortness of breath and are feeling tired.
See the Shelter in Place guidelines for more details.
Healthy individuals do not need a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses. A facemask can be worn by those who are coughing or sneezing to protect others from getting sick. A mask can also remind you how often you touch your mouth or face. Surgical masks are already in short supply and should be prioritized for use in health care settings.
Yes, under the Shelter in Place guidelines all public and private gatherings of any number of people are prohibited . If you must go out to complete essential activities, please practice social distancing and stay 6 feet away from other individuals. Do not go out if you are sick.
Call your doctor if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Your doctor will work with the local public health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you don’t have a doctor, call 211 to find the closest safety net clinic.
- Prepare for shortages of goods and supplies. Plan accordingly;
- Make sure family and organization emergency preparedness kits are up to date and ready to go. Stocking extra emergency supplies is a good idea;
- Prepare for shortages in medications. Try to obtain two to three months’ supply of critical prescriptions;
- Create plans to care for loved ones at home if they or their caregivers become ill. Do so in a manner that limits spread within the family;
- Use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch common surfaces such as bathroom door handles or elevator buttons.
- An anonymous crisis line is available 24 hours, 7 days a week including holidays at 1-800-704-0900 (Mental Health Services)
- SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline 24 hours at 1-800-985-5990 or text TALKWITHUS to 66746 (Press 2 for Spanish).