For Immediate ReleaseAugust 20, 2020
The overlap of COVID-19 and bad air quality complicate public health response
San Rafael, CA – Smoke from Northern California wildfires is deteriorating air quality, prompting Marin Public Health to issue a public health advisory warning residents who may be affected by or susceptible to COVID-19 to take extra precautions in limiting smoke exposure.
In addition to the Woodward Fire in coastal West Marin, fires most affecting Marin County residents include those in Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano, Yolo, and Contra Costa counties.
“The overlap of the COVID-19 pandemic with wildfire season complicates our public health response,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “People either at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposures or already affected by the disease may be even more vulnerable if exposed to wildfire smoke.”
Particularly at risk are:
The most common effects of wildfire smoke are eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Residents in communities that are threatened by wildfire should factor in COVID-19 protective actions when reviewing safety and evacuation plans.
Residents in affected areas who need to leave home should practice physical distancing, cover coughs, clean hands frequently, and wear face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Evacuation shelters are being modified to accommodate for physical distancing requirements.
COVID-19 continues to circulate in Marin, and the best protection from the virus and poor air quality is to stay indoors. Even when sufficiently distancing from others, face coverings should be worn outside for protection against both COVID-19 and the smoke.
Learn more from BAAQMD, AirNow.gov, and the Centers for Disease Control.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website