Information on COVID-19


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.

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:

  • 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.

Many COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and several are being tested in large-scale clinical trials in the United States. Vaccines are being developed as fast as possible, but all the typical stages of the process are still being followed. No development or testing stages have been skipped. The vaccines that have received emergency authorization to date are both safe and effective.

The City has the infrastructure to both store, distribute and dispense the vaccines. Vaccine dispensing is a normal function of PPHD. Every year, team members practice for emergency vaccine dispensing by conducting mass vaccination events such as free flu vaccine clinics. When the COVID-19 vaccine is made available to the general public, it will be provided at no charge; it will be paid for by the federal government or by one’s insurance company.

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

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:

  • 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

Use of face masks

Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Face coverings are required to be worn in public places and businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings should cover one's nose and mouth. A face covering protects both the wearer and those around them from the virus. Wearing a face covering 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.

Face coverings should be washed frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to keep face coverings in until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.

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

To date, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not received many reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been many reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

There have been very few isolated cases of pets becoming ill with COVID-19, although at this point there is only human-to-animal transmission and not the other way around.

Travel Recommendations

The incidence of COVID-19 is increasing in many states and countries. Individuals arriving in California from other states or Californians returning from other states or countries could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. In addition, travel itself can be a risk for exposure to COVID-19, particularly shared travel by air, bus or rail.

On January 6, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a travel advisory:

Travel Advisory for Nonessential Travel
Nonessential Travel [i]

1.    Except in connection with essential travel, Californians should avoid non-essential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one's place of residence, or to other states or countries. Avoiding travel reduces the risk of virus transmission, including by reducing the risk that new sources of infection and, potentially, new virus strains will be introduced to California.

2.    Non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California, and should adhere to the quarantine procedures set forth in Paragraph 3.

Quarantine Post-Travel

3.    All persons arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries, should self-quarantine for 10 days [ii] after arrival, except as necessary to meet urgent critical healthcare staffing needs or to otherwise engage in emergency response. Additionally, this recommendation does not apply to individuals who routinely cross state or country borders for essential travel [iii].

A local health officer may determine if and when the situation within the local health officer's jurisdiction warrants measures that are more restrictive than this statewide order, and retains authority to implement such measures.

i "Nonessential travel" includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

ii The quarantine period was updated consistent with emerging science and the CDC's latest recommendations.

iii "Essential travel" is travel associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure or otherwise required or expressly authorized by law (including other applicable state and local public health directives), including work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

Guidance for Gatherings

COVID-19 continues to spread in Pasadena and throughout LA County. As the holiday season approaches, public health officials ask that residents avoid large gatherings. Indoor gatherings of any size with non-household members are not permitted. Outdoor gatherings are permitted but should be limited to three or fewer households, with everyone wearing a face covering and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from those who do not live in the same household. To further reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, outdoor gatherings should last no longer than two hours.

As a reminder, attending or hosting a gathering with people who live outside your household increases the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Safer options include participating in a virtual parties, attending a drive-in event, driving around your neighborhood to see decorated houses, or other socially-distanced activities. Carnivals, parties, festivals, and live entertainment are not safe this holiday season and are not permitted under the Health Officer Order.

Holiday Travel

The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home and limit nonessential travel. Don’t travel if you're sick or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If you do travel:

  • Protect yourself and your family while using transportation services;
  • Check travel restrictions for your destination and return before you go;
  • Get your seasonal flu vaccination before you travel;
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public settings and while on public transportation;
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone you don’t live with;
  • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) frequently, especially after touching shared surfaces;
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth; and
  • Bring extra sanitary supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.

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.

Understanding California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy

LA County, which includes the city of Pasadena, currently falls within the substantial/red tier.

California Blueprint for a Safer Economy graphic

What can I do to help move my city/county into a less restrictive tier?

Three Ws graphic

                • Wear a face covering in public.
                • Wash hands often with warm water for 20 seconds or more; use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if hand-washing is not accessible.
                • Watch your distance by avoiding gatherings and staying at least 6 feet away from people you don't live with.





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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:

Laboratory Testing

Free diagnostic testing in Pasadena is available BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. For more information, visit our COVID-19 testing page.

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.

Are residents and staff at long-term care facilities regularly tested for COVID-19?

As the availability of COVID-19 laboratory testing has increased, the Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) has recommended staff of long-term care facilities (including skilled nursing and assisted living facilities) get tested. The PPHD continues to work with community partners to increase testing availability and expand local capacity for COVID-19 testing.

There are several challenges to testing, however, including constantly rotating staff and some facilities not having clinical staff to conduct swabbing on site. Individuals also need to be tested every week, and results take at least 2-3 days to receive.

FAQs for Friends & Family With Loved Ones in a Skilled Nursing or Residential Care Facility

Healthcare Providers

On May 7, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued an updated guidance document, Resuming California’s Deferred and Preventive Dental Care, for dental healthcare personnel. Routine dental cleanings are considered preventive in nature and may be considered based on 1) local or regional personal protective equipment (PPE) and needed supplies being available, and 2) knowing current local COVID-19 case trends. This includes topical fluoride application, sealants and scaling. It is currently advised to avoid aerosol generating procedures that require use of dental equipment such as handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, and air-water syringes. All staff and patients—regardless of treatment need—must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Dental offices are urged to stay aware of local county ordinances that may affect the provision.

Photo: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM