Amid coronavirus outbreak, social interactions becoming more cautious

With cases of the novel coronavirus becoming more prevalent in Southern California, public health officials are urging people to prepare for the likelihood of neighbors and friends testing positive.

Not only does this mean thinking about how everyone goes about their daily lives and interactions. This includes work, school, church and even grocery shopping, all the way up to plans for spring break.

"We don't believe that this spreads far," said Riverside County's public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser. "For example, we're not going to quarantine an entire city unless I have evidence of lots of cases in one area. We might not even be talking about an entire block. But it may be everybody in the same house for example."

Kaiser said Riverside County is already reaching out to certain industries about how they might ideally conduct business in a way to reduce face-to-face contact.

"The general rule of thumb is about six feet. You can still conduct a lot of business at six feet, but sometimes it's hard to control for that, and it is kind of off-putting.

"Where we may have larger problems is obviously the health care industry, where you have to be up close and personal. Or anything that involves social interaction, entertainment, sports and things like that."

Kaiser said it might not be a bad idea for businesses or churches to place hand sanitizing stations near their entrances, as is common aboard cruise ships. But he said the most effective thing would be for managers to make a simple request of their employees:

"If you're sick, stay home."

Spring break travel plans could also be affected as COVID-19 continues to spread. Kaiser recommends that people stay aware of travel warnings issued by the State Department. If you're planning to travel by plane, there are also things to keep in mind.

"When you're talking about droplet-spread diseases, and (coronavirus) appears to be one of them, your actual area of spread is a couple of seat rows at worst."

Kaiser said as a general rule, people who are symptomatic are more likely to spread viruses, which is helpful because those people can be easily identified by symptoms of coughing or sneezing.

"If you have someone like that, keep in mind it's more likely to be the flu. But it's something you may want to bring to the attention of a flight attendant on board, to see if that person can be masked or seated somewhere where they're not a concern for other people."
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