Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody shows a graph indicating a rise of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Photo via Santa Clara County Public Health Facebook

Throughout Santa Clara County, the daily numbers of Covid-19 cases and virus positivity rates have climbed so drastically since Halloween that public health officials on Nov. 13 announced more business closures are coming.

Starting Tuesday, Nov. 17, the county will revert back to the “red tier” of the state’s Covid-19 reopening blueprint. This means that indoor dining will close; gyms and fitness centers will be reduced to 10 percent capacity; wineries can open outdoors only; outdoor bars must close; bowling alleys and family entertainment centers must be closed; and general retail is limited to 50 percent capacity, among other restrictions.

County Public Health Officer Sara Cody and County Counsel James Williams announced the new restrictions at a Nov. 13 press conference outside county headquarters in San Jose.

Cody pointed to a chart that shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases has made a steep incline since the beginning of November.

“After a slow drift up in October, around Nov. 3-4 it started to head straight up. It’s the steepness of that curve that concerns all of us and requires that we act swiftly,” Cody said.

On Nov. 13, there were 362 new Covid-19 cases reported in the county, and 110 coronavirus patients are hospitalized. Both these numbers are among the highest that have occurred in Santa Clara County since the pandemic started in March.

Cody noted that local officials expect the state to place Santa Clara County into the red tier by Nov. 17, but the county is acting before then. The county has been in the state’s “orange tier” since early October, which had allowed some previously closed business activity to resume.

Closing those business activities again aims to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 so that commerce can reopen sooner at full capacity, children can go back to school and friends and families can gather again, county officials said Nov. 13.

“Every single action that people take is going to help keep people out of the hospital, keep us from needing to order up morgue space and it’s going to enable our businesses to get back more quickly,” Cody said. “So it’s really important we all take action now.”

Under the state’s reopening blueprint, the red or “substantial” risk tier applies to counties with a daily case rate between 4 and 7 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, or a test positivity rate between 5 and 8 percent. Counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving up to a less restrictive level.

Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, at the Nov. 13 press conference pleaded with residents to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“We’re going to need everybody’s help,” Chavez said. “We have more people in our community getting sick, more people going to the hospital and more people dying.”

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that Morgan Hill has seen 795 positive cases of the virus since March, and Gilroy has seen 1,904. The county as a whole has seen 27,648 cases and 444 deaths related to Covid-19.

The spread of Covid-19 has made a sharp uptick throughout the Bay Area, state and nation in recent weeks. Cody added that public health officials in most other Bay Area counties are taking actions similar to Santa Clara County in response to the current coronavirus surge. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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