(Merced County press release)
With COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) continuing to spread and impact California communities, the Merced County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Merced County Department of Public Health proclaimed a local and public health emergency Friday in order to help address the outbreak.
The declaration of a local health emergency and proclamation of a local emergency will be considered for ratification by the Board of Supervisors during a special meeting next week.
As of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Merced County. The purpose of these two actions is to position the County to better respond to the outbreak. Benefits of these actions include:
• Expanded access to personnel, equipment, and facilities;
• Improved medical information sharing;
• The ability to waive local provisions and regulations that could hinder response to the emergency;
• Enhanced opportunities for mutual aid;
• Access to state/federal funding/reimbursement related to disaster relief.
County Health Officer Dr. Kenneth Bird said “the inevitable spread of this illness to our community makes it imperative that every resource is in place to assure that the most vulnerable individuals are protected to the fullest extent possible. These individuals include:
• Older adults;
• Those with chronic illness (heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, or hypertension);
• Immunocompromised individuals.”
Public Health Director, Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, DrPH said “keeping our communities and families safe requires a collective effort, which speaks to the foundation of public health and, moreover, speaks to the efforts the County of Merced requires from all its residents.”
Division Chief Jeremy Rahn of the Merced County Fire Department who also serves as the OES Deputy Director, said “it’s essential to be prepared during a situation like this. We want the public to be assured that we’re doing everything in our power to minimize impacts to our community. It’s important to be calm, but it’s also important to be ready for any potential future impacts.”
There are steps you can take to protect your health and the health of those around you and slow the spread of the illness which include:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds;
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
• Stay away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough;
• Cover sneezes or coughs with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
COVID-19 symptoms include: mild to severe respiratory illness, fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If symptoms develop, individuals should stay at home to limit exposure to others. Do not go to your provider’s office without calling ahead. Do not call 911 for suspected COVID-19 unless you are having a medical emergency.
Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Merced County at this time, Merced County Public Health and OES continue to coordinate with federal, state and local partners to further prepare us for any potential future impacts. This includes working with the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor COVID-19. Public Health’s Department Operations Center was originally opened on January 27, 2020 for this emergency.
In coordination with OES, situational status calls are taking place daily with local government agencies, schools, and healthcare professionals in our community.
COVID-19 Information and Resources:
• Merced County Public Health Information Line: 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, and Hmong)
• Sign up for COVID-19 alerts from Merced County by visiting countyofmerced.com/coronavirus
and entering your email on the right side of the page.
For more information regarding Merced County, please visit our website at www.countyofmerced.com