Information on COVID-19

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On March 4, 2020 the City of Pasadena Health Officer, Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, declared a Local Public Health Emergency to empower the City to more effectively respond to COVID-19. Read the official news release.

The Pasadena Public Health Department and the City of Pasadena are proactively working with regional, state and federal health officials to conduct surveillance of and coordinate response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This is an evolving situation and the immediate risk to the general public is low. In addition to following public health guidance such as limiting travel to highly impacted countries, there are several steps individuals can take to prevent the spread of illness.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate mostly among animals. Common symptoms in an infected person include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Since its discovery in mainland China in December 2019, novel coronavirus has infected over 50 million people and caused over 1 million deaths across the globe. Since March, there has been continued community spread of the virus in California and across the United States.

The City of Pasadena is committed to disseminating COVID-19 information and preventative measures based on science and what public health officials know about the virus thus far. COVID-19 transmission does not discriminate based on race or any other quality. We encourage community members to denounce racist or xenophobic actions or remarks they may observe against any group. Please continue to follow everyday precautions to protect yourself and others from getting sick. The City of Pasadena continues to work tirelessly with local and county partners to promote the health and safety of everyone in our community.

Below is helpful information regarding COVID-19 for both the general public and healthcare providers. Call center staff at the City’s Citizen Service Center (CSC) is available Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., to assist you with questions related to COVID-19. CSC staff can be reached at (626) 744-7311.

About COVID-19

  • What is COVID-19? A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
  • Who is most vulnerable? The Pasadena residents who are most vulnerable to the negative health consequences of COVID-19 are seniors and people who have certain underlying health issues, also known as “immunocompromised” people. Seniors and those who are immunocompromised should take extra precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, such as limiting interactions with other people as much as possible and avoiding travel.
  • Are children at increased risk? In general, children who have contracted COVID-19 have experienced mild symptoms; however, there have been confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19. MIS-C is a condition where different body parts, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, become inflamed. The best way to protect your child is by making sure everyone in your household follows the 'Three Ws':
    1. Wear a face covering in public.
    2. Wash hands often.
    3. Watch your distance by staying at least six feet away from people who do not live in your immediate household and avoiding gatherings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 and influenza viruses have a similar disease presentation. Both can:

  • Cause fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, chills, fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and loss of taste or smell.
  • Be asymptomatic, mild, severe, or even fatal in rare cases.
  • Can result in pneumonia.

Flu symptoms can begin 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body; whereas COVID-19 symptoms can begin 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Many people who become infected with COVID-19 can recover at home; however, older adults and adults with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, and heart and lung disease, are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness.

Transmission
Both COVID-19 and the flu can be spread from person-to-person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. That is why it’s important to practice good health hygiene:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hand.
  • Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or nose.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces often, including cell phones, light switches, doorknobs, and toilets.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.


COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Everyone ages 6 months and older should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Pasadena residents should first contact their healthcare provider or local pharmacy for vaccine availability. For more information , visit the CDC Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children. Everyone 12 years and older should get a booster for COVID-19 vaccine.

See information about safety and eligibility of COVID-19 vaccines.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, am I protected by infection-induced immunity, or do I still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a booster, even if you already had COVID-19.

Getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, called infection-induced immunity. The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age. No currently available test can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine gives most people a high level of protection against COVID-19 even in people who have already been sick with COVID-19.

Emerging evidence shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. One study showed that, for people who already had COVID-19, those who do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more than 2 times as likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get fully vaccinated after their recovery.

Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. However, experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of infection-induced immunity.

CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible persons, including those who have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Can I get vaccinated with COVID-19 while I am sick with COVID-19?

No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for ending isolation. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 between their first and second dose. Those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated.

People who have had a known COVID-19 exposure should not seek vaccination until their quarantine period has ended to avoid potentially exposing healthcare personnel and others during the vaccination visit. This recommendation also applies to people with a known COVID-19 exposure who have received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine but not their second.

Do booster shots add additional protection against the Omicron variant for people who have had COVID-19 previously?

Peer-reviewed data indicate that a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine greatly improves an individual’s antibody response to be able to counter the Omicron variant.

Boosters are now authorized for people 12 years of age and older. You are eligible at least 5 months after your second dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or 2 months after a dose of J&J vaccine.

For more information, see Choosing Your COVID-19 Booster Shot.

What is the PPHD doing to support the delivery of boosters to skilled nursing facilities?

Starting in September 2021, most Pasadena residents of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) became eligible for COVID-19 boosters.  PPHD began communicating and offering SNF residents and staff COVID-19 vaccine booster doses as soon as recommended by the CDC. The State Health Officer Order requires all the staff who are healthcare workers in SNFs to be up to date on vaccinations, including a booster shot.

The California Department of Public Health and the LA County Department Health Facilities Inspection Division are the agencies that license and regulate SNFs. They have asked SNFs to track and report vaccination rates of staff and residents.  In addition, for purposes of infection prevention and control, PPHD has required that SNFs track and report COVID-19 vaccination rates of staff and residents. PPHD staff have provided intensive technical assistance to the physicians, nurses and administrators legally and ethically responsible for the medical care of these SNF residents, including delivering prepared COVID-19 vaccine doses to SNFs, cross-referencing facility and immunization registry records to identify residents eligible for boosters but not yet boosted, and verifying vaccination rates reported by SNFs.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, including between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

What to do if someone in the house is sick:

Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding.

Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

What can I do to protect myself?

Steps that individuals can take to reduce the risk of getting sick with seasonal colds or flu can also help prevent COVID-19 transmission:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hand.
  • Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or nose.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces often, including cell phones, light switches, doorknobs, and toilets.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have recently returned from an area or event with emerging or continued COVID-19 infections, follow public health guidance and monitor your health. Call your healthcare providers and inform them about your travel history if you need care.
  • If you have been in close contact with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19, quarantine at home and follow the instructions of your healthcare provider or public health official.

You can also prepare for possible disruptions to daily routines that could be caused by COVID-19:

  • Make sure you have a supply of all essential medications for your family;
  • Make a child care plan in case you or a caregiver are sick;
  • Understand your employer’s policies regarding leave and options for working from home;
  • Make arrangements for how your family will manage a school closure; and
  • Make a plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself.

How to Protect Seniors and Other Higher-Risk Adults from COVID-19

Public Health Guidance for Individuals with Access and Functional Needs

Why is masking strongly recommended?

Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask when in public spaces. An effective mask has both good fit and good filtration. A well fitted mask has no gaps between the face and mask, such as above the nose or at the sides. With gaps, air that has virus particles can easily leak in or out around the sides of the mask. Good fit forces the air that you breathe out and breathe in to go through the mask and be filtered. Good filtration blocks the virus particles from going through the mask itself. You can get good filtration with the right materials and by using more layers.

Good fit and filtration improve protection for others if you are infected and protection for you if you are exposed to an infected person. For more information on choosing masks and respirators to optimize filtration, visit:

Face masks are strongly recommended to be worn in public places and businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks should cover one's nose and mouth. A face covering protects both the wearer and those around them from the virus. Wearing a face mask is an additional public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and does not replace the need to maintain physical distancing and wash hands frequently.

In general, when able to physically distance from others, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings. You should still wear a mask outdoors at crowded events or venues when you are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccination or are unable to physically distance from others, and if you are at an outdoor mega event and you are required.

Everyone is required to wear masks in Pasadena in/on:

  • Public transit
  • Healthcare settings (including long term care facilities)
  • Adult and senior care facilities
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers

After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, take these steps to protect yourself and others:

For additional information on types of masks, the most effective masks, and ensuring a well-fitted mask, individuals should refer to CDPH Get the Most out of Masking and see CDPH Masking Guidance Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

When are employers required to issue employees a mask and what type of masks are required?

    • Employers in the City of Pasadena must provide employees with a high quality mask if requested, such as a well-fitting medical grade mask, surgical mask, or higher-level respirator such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator or KN95. Masks need not be worn indoors if the employee is alone in a room or actively eating or drinking.
    • Well-fitting medical grade masks help prevent workers who do not know they have the COVID-19 virus from spreading it to others and they provide protection to the wearer as well.
    • Consider also offering staff eye protection (e.g., a face shield) in addition to an N95 respirator if they are not fully vaccinated and have significant close contact with others who may be unvaccinated.
    • Some independent contractors are considered to be employees under the State Labor Code. For more details, check the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Independent Contractor Versus Employee webpage.

Discard face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth;
  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps;
  • Cannot stay on the face; and/or
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric.

View additional guidance on face coverings.

COVID-19 and pets

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to humans is low. People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals including pets while infectious. For more information, visit the CDC.

Travel Recommendations

The incidence of COVID-19 has increased in many states and countries, especially as new variants are identified. Follow all travel recommendations:

Local Public Health Emergency

On March 4, 2020, the City of Pasadena Health Officer, Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, declared a Local Public Health Emergency to empower the City to more effectively respond to COVID-19.

The declaration of a Local Public Health Emergency mobilized City resources, accelerated emergency planning, streamlined staffing, coordinated agencies across Pasadena, facilitated seeking and utilizing mutual aid, and allowed for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments. Additionally, an official declaration helped raise awareness about how everyone can protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19.

Coping with Stress

The City of Pasadena and partners throughout the county are taking measures to keep the community healthy and safe, and that include your mental well-being. When you hear, read, or watch news about a new disease, such as COVID-19, you may feel anxious and show signs of stress—even when the illness affects people far from where you live. These signs of stress are normal and may be more likely in people with loved ones affected by the disease. It is always important to care for your own physical and mental health and reach out in kindness to those affected by the situation.

You are encouraged to read the following coping strategies and share them with friends and family who may also be experiencing stress.

More helpful information:

COVID-19 Testing

For more information on testing locations and types of testing, visit our COVID-19 testing page.

Can there be more testing sites?

Yes, we continue to keep the Pasadena Public Health website updated with current testing locations around the city including local pharmacies, faith-based organizations and health centers. You can also contact your healthcare provider to see what testing options your provider offers.

Residential households in the U.S. can also order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com. Here’s what you need to know about your order:

  • Limit of one order per residential address
  • One order includes 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests
  • Orders will ship free starting in late January

Go to https://special.usps.com/testkits to place your free at-home COVID-19 test order.

Clinicians and laboratories are required to report all cases of COVID-19 to the Pasadena Public Health Department immediately by phone and submit a case report form, which is available on our website.

Can people who had COVID-19 continue to test positive after they are no longer infectious?

Yes. Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs)/PCR viral diagnostic tests are very good at detecting the virus that causes COVID-19, however, people who have recovered from COVID-19 may test positive for up to 90 days after initial symptom onset. For this reason, the CDC advises these people to not receive NAAT/PCR testing 90 days after initial symptom onset if they are asymptomatic. Those who experience new symptoms should self-isolate and be retested for COVID-19.

Does Pasadena or the Pasadena Unified School District have different requirements than those recommended by the CDC?

The CDC provides general recommendations for the entire country, but does not have legal authority to regulate local jurisdictions. Because the situation in a public health emergency can vary widely from state to state or region to region, local public health jurisdictions adopt regulations that are appropriate for the specific area. Currently, Pasadena, LA County, and the State of CA all have adopted an indoor masking mandate to help address the Omicron surge. A complete listing of health officer orders including their issue dates can be found at the PPHD website.

TK-12 schools must adopt COVID-19 protocols that are consistent with at least the minimum requirements of the local public health jurisdiction.

Photo: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM