Coronavirus makes its way to Bay Area

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Coronavirus makes its way to Bay Area

Olivia Ramberg-Gomez and Ria Pai

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Following the recent identification of two cases of Coronavirus in Santa Clara County, the Palo Alto Unified School District is taking the necessary precautions to protect students and faculty from the virus, according to campus and district officials.

Palo Alto High School’s Registered Nurse and Health Technician, Jennifer Kleckner says that Paly is following the advice, sent out by the superintendent and the Santa Clara Office of Education, that is based on the Centers for Disease Control and the county department of public health.

“All of our [Paly] families have received an email from the superintendent regarding the novel Coronavirus and how they should respond to protect both their health and that of the community,” Kleckner said. “We are also following any updates from the Department of Public Health in case there are changes in the advice.”

On Jan. 31, the Santa Clara Department of Public Health received confirmation of the first case of the Coronavirus in the county. According to the department, a male resident of the county tested positive for the virus. Risk to the public is low because he was quarantined, officials said.

More recently, on Feb. 2, the Santa Clara Department of Public Health stated the newest case of the Coronavirus was confirmed in a female visiting the county. This new case is not connected to the first case announced on Jan. 31, and there is a low risk to the general public at this time, according to the Santa Clara Department of Public Health.

Though there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus in Palo Alto, some families have family members who have self-quarantined themselves out of fear of being exposed to others or because they have recently traveled to China and are waiting to see if they show symptoms, according to Kleckner.

The probability of catching the virus is low, but precautions should still be taken to avoid the spread of the virus, according to the Santa Clara Department of Public Health.

“Just as with colds and the flu, our staff is being vigilant about recognizing signs of illness,” Kleckner said. “We are sending students home who exhibit symptoms of a respiratory infection.”

Not all students can be provided with masks due to a limited supply, but students showing signs of illness will be provided with one while they wait to be picked up, Kleckner said. 

Palo Alto High School’s Nurse and Health Technician Jennifer Kluckner demonstrates how to properly wash hands. Kluckner advises students to take extra care of their health. Photo: Ria Pai

Students and staff are advised to look out for signs of the virus in themselves and others. 

“If a student or staff member develops a fever of 100 degrees or more, they should remain home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without medication containing Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprofen),” Kleckner said.

To take further precautions in the spread of the virus, Kleckner advises students and staff to take care of their health: thoroughly wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds before and after eating, cover coughs with their elbow, avoid touching their face and eyes, get a good night’s sleep, and get the flu vaccination.

“So far I have not heard of any cases nearby Paly,” Kleckner said. “I hope that it stays that way.”