SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Two health care workers at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital, who were exposed to a Solano County woman who was now being treated for the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus at UC Davis Medical Center, have tested positive for the illness and have been ordered to undergone quarantine in their homes in Solano and Alameda counties.
Alameda County Public Health Department and Solano Public Health reported on Sunday that both of the workers were “presumptive positive” for the illness.READ MORE: COVID: Outbreak at 3 Contra Costa Jails Sickens Nearly 100 Inmates and Staff
“As always, our top priority is the health and safety of our patients, our staff, physicians and the community,” said Aimee Brewer, president of NorthBay HealthCare Group. “Our two health care workers who tested positive have been in isolation at home since the day we learned they had contact
with the patient who had contracted the virus.”
The two NorthBay VacaValley Hospital staffers join 124 other health care workers including 36 nurses at UC Davis Medical Center who were ordered to undergo quarantine for exposure to the same patient. Criticism has risen over the number of days it took the Solano County woman to be tested for the illness.
In a memo to its employees UC Davis administrators said the patient had been treated for several days before being tested for the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus.
“This patient was transferred to us from another Northern California hospital on Wednesday, Feb 19,” the memo read. “When the patient arrived, the patient had already been intubated, was on a ventilator, and given droplet protection orders because of an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition.”
“Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process,” the memo continued.
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County health officials also reported on Sunday that the woman being treated at UC Davis was “slowly recovering, and the individual’s family members had negative test results for COVID-19 so far and remain in quarantine.”
Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said exposure risks were particularly challenging for hospital staffs.
“Due to the aggressive measures that public health and hospital staff undertook, all potential exposures to the case were promptly identified and isolated so that patients are not placed at higher risk,” Matyas said. “This underscores the challenging environment that health care workers everywhere face to stem the spread of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.”
Officials said all of those health care workers would remain in isolation or in quarantine and would not return to patient care until they are cleared.
A full contact investigation was also underway for the two new health care worker cases, and individuals potentially exposed were in the process of being identified and evaluated. Teams of epidemiologists from the CDC and California Department of Public Health were assisting the health departments in tracing those who may be at risk for exposure because of the new cases.
“We took immediate and comprehensive measures intended to stop any further spread of the virus, including working with public health officials to trace the contacts the two workers may have had,” Brewer said. “We remain in close contact with national, state and local public health authorities to ensure we are following the most up-to-date protocols and procedures for dealing with this evolving situation.”
Health care officials on the local, state and national levels have warned of the likelihood of new cases of the illness.
“We understand that the evolving news about COVID-19 is concerning, and we are taking the situation very seriously,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Health Officer, Alameda County Public Health Department. “This news is not unexpected in the Bay Area, and we are ready for cases here. This is not the time to panic; now is the time for all of us to work together.”MORE NEWS: VIDEO: Cars Impounded for Reckless Driving Following Daytime Oakland Sideshow
Pan said Alameda County was declaring a local public health emergency as part of its ongoing response and preparation for community spread.