San Mateo County Health Advisory stresses community intervention to limit surge of COVID-19

by Contributed Content on December 10, 2020

San Mateo County Health issued a new health advisory on December 9th, with recommendations for community interventions to limit the surge of COVID-19. By reviewing the science, epidemiology, and local case investigations, the County is focusing on reducing transmission from social gatherings and among household members.

The advisory, which is sent to health care practitioners in the county and reinforces recommendations and actions for the public, may be found here.

These preventive measures build upon guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and new science emerging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Acknowledging that pandemic fatigue affects adherence to additional governmental restrictions, health officials emphasize three recommendations:

  • Always mask in public, particularly when talking.
  • Insulate your household and any small, stable “Social Support Bubble” from the virus.
  • Mask – Isolate – Quarantine – Test – immediately for any symptoms, or after an exposure.

The health advisory is clear to explain the science behind these measures. “The majority of transmissions occurs from people with no symptoms of COVID-19,” said Curtis Chan, MD, the county’s deputy health officer. “And airborne droplets are the primary way the disease spreads. This is why we’re emphasizing always wear face coverings even if you have no symptoms and particularly when you’re talking.”

To stop transmission from social gatherings, particularly among young adults, Vanessa de la Cruz, MD, the county’s medical director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services highlights the importance of a harm-reduction approach in limiting transmission “We’re trying to urgently change behaviors of people who haven’t been following health orders,” she said. “Behavioral health experts emphasize the importance of providing people with scientific information and facts.”

Infectious disease experts worked with behavioral health physicians to develop an approach to insulate households and “social-support bubbles” from the virus. These social-support bubbles should be small (1-2 households) and stable, with the same members across periods of weeks. The function of social-support bubbles is to provide essential physical, emotional, and social support. With the epidemic worsening, it’s important to further insulate these households and social-support bubbles to prevent the virus from entering.

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