Santa Clara County officials announced a number of new restrictions Nov. 28 that they hope will rein in the record-setting Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Beginning Nov. 30, stores and other facilities open to the public will be limited to 10 percent capacity indoors. Grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, however, will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors.
All facilities open to the public must establish a “metering system” to ensure that the capacity limits are not exceeded. To do so, facilities could post an employee at the entrance to track the number of people entering and exiting.
Gatherings continue to be allowed only outdoors, with a maximum of 100 people. State rules limit such gatherings to First Amendment-protected activities, such as religious services or protests.
All recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports, will be temporarily prohibited. People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times.
To discourage leisurely travel, people will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the county from travel of more than 150 miles. Healthcare workers traveling into the county to provide care or patients traveling into the county to obtain treatment will be exempted from this requirement.
Hotels and other lodging facilities will be open only for essential travel and to facilitate isolation or quarantine. Cardrooms will also be temporarily closed.
Limited outdoor dining is not affected under the new directives.
As of Nov. 28, there were 760 new cases of Covid-19 and 239 Covid-related hospitalizations, with 71 of those in the ICU, according to county health officials. From Nov. 20-27, Gilroy reported 283 new cases, while Morgan Hill had 118 during the past week.
County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said the new case rates “far shatters” the previous record of 512 cases, which was reached on Nov. 25.
“We have come to a place where our cases and our hospitalizations are so high that we must do something to settle things down,” she said. “We urge everyone to stay home to the greatest extent that you can. Please stay home. Do not go out unless it is for essential reasons. These are extraordinarily painful and difficult decisions, but it is a matter of life and death. We must slow this train or it will derail.”
There are currently 54 ICU beds available throughout the county, according to Santa Clara County Public Health data. Cody said the county, if it continues on its current trend, will run out of beds around the third week of December and begin to fill its inventory of surge beds.
The county’s projections didn’t take into account Thanksgiving and the gatherings and travel associated with it, according to Cody.
“Today we are between an extreme rock and a hard place,” she said. “We must take broader measures. Our focused measures as we have seen are no match for the tsunami of cases and hospitalizations that are coming.”