Santa Cruz County and Mariposa Community Health Clinic presented important information in mitigating the spread of Covid-19.  Over the next several months, it is extremely important to maintain mitigation strategies for both the Flu and Covid-19.  The Flu and Covid-19 have similar symptoms, with loss of taste and smell being particular to Covid-19.  The only way to know which you have is through testing.  Both can have a range of symptoms from mild to severe, and both can result in death.  People are strongly encouraged to get a Flu shot this season as an added step to reduce the spread of the flu.

You can do everything at the workplace to keep people safe, but people must continue the steps to mitigate the spread of the virus when they go home.  Ongoing education is vital, and Santa Cruz County and Mariposa Community Health are available to help with additional education.  Please stress the importance of the protective measures to your employees both at work and when they go home.

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others:

By implementing many of the precautions that have been discussed by CDC and the State, the spread of Covid-19 and the flu can be controlled.  Wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection are all important to continue for both viruses. Currently, there are only vaccines available for the flu, and again, Santa Cruz County is encouraging everyone to get their flu shot this season.

Masks and Social Distancing:

Masks work, and they should be worn correctly to properly cover the nose, mouth, and chin.  Data also shows that face shields in conjunction with masks further decreases the spread. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory illness, masks are very important in minimizing the spray of droplets that spread the virus.  People should be wearing a mask in all public places and while at work.

People also need to maintain social distance.  Close contact is considered 15 minutes of exposure over 24 hours, a change from previous guidance of 15 minutes in one interaction. The main thing to remember is you want to protect your negative.  The longer you interact with others closely increases your chances of contracting Covid-19.

Companies are encouraged to not have employees eating lunch and taking breaks in common areas.  If there are places outside or in personal vehicles, it is better to have people maintain social distancing during breaks, especially where masks might be removed while eating or drinking.

When to Quarantine or Stay Home:

If you are sick, stay home.  Companies should encourage employees to stay home if they experience symptoms. If people have symptoms, they should also go in for testing for Covid-19.

If you test positive for Covid-19, you should isolate from others for 10 days from onset of symptoms, and you must be fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours and symptoms must improve before you end isolation.  If you have the flu, you should isolate for 5 days and have no fever for 24 hours.

If you are exposed to someone with Covid-19, you should quarantine for 14 days to ensure you do not have the virus.  Testing during the quarantine period is less effective than the quarantine because if you test before you develop the virus, you might have a negative test result even though you have contracted Covid-19.

Hand Washing and Enhanced Cleaning and Sanitizing:

Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water.  If you don’t have access to handwashing facilities right away, you should sanitize your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid sharing equipment with others, and increase cleaning and disinfection of any shared equipment.  Companies should also have a person responsible for additional cleaning and sanitation, especially of high-touch areas like keyboards, phones, doorknobs, and handrails.

Santa Cruz County is also preparing a vaccine plan for when a vaccine is finalized.  Members are encouraged to send their total employee numbers so they can incorporate those numbers in the vaccination plan.  You can send your employee numbers to Santa Cruz County to Jeff Terrell, or Fernando Silva,