Coronavirus Pennsylvania: Montgomery County officials said new case of COVID-19 could be community spread

Officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania said Tuesday that one of four new coronavirus cases could be community spread.

The total number of cases in Montgomery County is now 34.

One of the four new cases is a woman, 72, who lives in Upper Providence Township.

Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said the woman is currently in the hospital and the source of infection is "unknown."

"Based on the information we have thus far, this does appear to be a case of community spread," Arkoosh said.

Contact tracing is complete, officials said.

There are currently 471 people in quarantine in Montgomery County.

Arkoosh said the new cases and possible community spread reiterate the need for social distancing.

WHAT IS COMMUNITY SPREAD?

Public health officials say 'community spread' is a term used when multiple people have been infected with a contagious disease and health officials are not sure how those people became infected.

When releasing the updated number of coronavirus infections in the area, health officials have tried to trace back any contact to an infected person, or travel to an area where community spread already is occurring.

However, that is already becoming more difficult, and that's why public events are being canceled or postponed.

Quarantine: What does it mean? Can it stop the coronavirus?

Along with person-to-person contact, the virus could also potentially spread when an uninfected person touches a surface that was in contact with an infected person.

"If a virus spread is sustained, it is spreading continuously without stopping. This virus, COVID-19, seems to be doing just that," Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said. She noted there is no indication yet of community spread in Pennsylvania.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY MITIGATION?

The cancellation of public events and gatherings is one tactic used to prevent or slow down community spread. This is known as "community mitigation."

According to Levine, those efforts include:

-Putting off large public gatherings
-Using technology to hold events instead
-Allowing employees to work from home
-Schools and universities holding classes online
-Social distancing: staying away from close contact with other people in public spaces

What the World Health Organization's COVID-19 pandemic declaration actually means
There are also steps individuals can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

-Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds

-If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer

-Cover coughs and sneezes with elbows, not hands

-Try not to touch your face regularly

-Clean surfaces on a regular basis

-If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better

What to do if you think you have COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms

WHAT ARE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 SYMPTOMS?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

-Fever

-Cough

-Shortness of breath
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