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Santa Clara County previews new COVID-19 reopening plan

Order that includes across-the-board guidelines for all open businesses set to be released this week

Joanie's Cafe customers eat at tables spaced out on California Avenue in Palo Alto on June 16. On June 29, Santa Clara county leaders discussed elements of a new shelter-at-home order set to be released this week. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Public Health Department held a joint meeting Monday with the San Jose City Council to preview the county's new reopening plan that will be released later this week.

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody discussed the transition from a sector-to-sector reopening plan to a risk-aversion plan.

"In this new phase we hope to create a framework that people will be able to live within for a long time to offer clarities on how to stay as safe as possible while doing the things we all need to do, and to create more certainty about the path ahead," Cody said.

The new plan will include across-the-board guidelines for all open businesses, with some more restrictive guidelines for higher-risk activities that will be applicable for the long-term. This also means that some businesses will be deemed too high-risk to open up for the time being.

"To use an overused phrase, we are entering a new normal that involves significant changes to the ways we do many things," Cody said.

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The first reopening on May 4 allowed construction and outdoor recreation activity. Then on May 22, curbside retail pickup was instituted. Cody said public health officials expected that cases would increase, but not at the levels the county is currently experiencing.

Since May 25, 160 worksites in Santa Clara County have reported at least one COVID-19 case, 53 percent of which were in construction, 15 percent in food service and 9 percent in retail stores, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Construction sites accounted for 90 percent of the county's outbreaks. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases linked to exposure within the workplace.

Some elected officials at the meeting suggested the increase in cases could've been linked to the large protests that followed the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, but Cody said there was not enough data to determine the protests were a major cause for the spread.

While the county has been seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, it has also seen a significant increase in testing.

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Dr. Marty Fenstersheib from the county's Public Health Department has been in charge of testing. He said the county has been able to meet its goal of an average of 4,000 daily tests over the last two weeks.

"We need to go back into a containment mode, and in order to do that it's very, very important that we continue and increase our capacity to test people, especially those at highest risk, and then investigate those cases and trace those contacts," Fenstersheib said.

Since June 16, there have been 28,861 tests done, with 38 percent being completed by the county. Of the total tests, 2 percent were positive. However, testing data suggests that the virus disproportionately impacts east San Jose, where 4 percent of tests are positive and South County, where 3 percent of tests are positive, according to Fenstersheib.

"The most important thing we are doing now is testing to know exactly where our cases are and who is being impacted so that instead of having wide-sweeping shelter-in-place orders that lock everybody down, we are able to in general release people as much back to their normal lives as possible while focusing on specific interventions on people who are cases or are contacts to cases," Assistant Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman said.

"In order to do that it is a massive venture that we have built over the last several months," Rudman said.

That venture is increasing staff for case investigation and contact tracing (CICT). Those who test positive are required to stay in isolation for two weeks. CICT staff will support the person in isolation by creating a plan to assist them with food, hospital visits or anything else they may require.

The county currently has 741 CICT staffers, exceeding the state's goal of 289 CICT staffers for Santa Clara County. Of that staff, 16 percent identify as Asian, 15 percent as Hispanic/Latino and 3 percent as Black.

All San Jose city council members shared their opinions regarding ways to improve the joint response with the county.

Councilmember Maya Esparza suggested updates to the testing websites to make it more user-friendly and Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco suggested changing testing hours from in the middle of a weekday to times that allow full-time workers to come get tested.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Santa Clara County previews new COVID-19 reopening plan

Order that includes across-the-board guidelines for all open businesses set to be released this week

by /

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 30, 2020, 9:15 am

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Public Health Department held a joint meeting Monday with the San Jose City Council to preview the county's new reopening plan that will be released later this week.

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody discussed the transition from a sector-to-sector reopening plan to a risk-aversion plan.

"In this new phase we hope to create a framework that people will be able to live within for a long time to offer clarities on how to stay as safe as possible while doing the things we all need to do, and to create more certainty about the path ahead," Cody said.

The new plan will include across-the-board guidelines for all open businesses, with some more restrictive guidelines for higher-risk activities that will be applicable for the long-term. This also means that some businesses will be deemed too high-risk to open up for the time being.

"To use an overused phrase, we are entering a new normal that involves significant changes to the ways we do many things," Cody said.

The first reopening on May 4 allowed construction and outdoor recreation activity. Then on May 22, curbside retail pickup was instituted. Cody said public health officials expected that cases would increase, but not at the levels the county is currently experiencing.

Since May 25, 160 worksites in Santa Clara County have reported at least one COVID-19 case, 53 percent of which were in construction, 15 percent in food service and 9 percent in retail stores, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Construction sites accounted for 90 percent of the county's outbreaks. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases linked to exposure within the workplace.

Some elected officials at the meeting suggested the increase in cases could've been linked to the large protests that followed the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, but Cody said there was not enough data to determine the protests were a major cause for the spread.

While the county has been seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, it has also seen a significant increase in testing.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib from the county's Public Health Department has been in charge of testing. He said the county has been able to meet its goal of an average of 4,000 daily tests over the last two weeks.

"We need to go back into a containment mode, and in order to do that it's very, very important that we continue and increase our capacity to test people, especially those at highest risk, and then investigate those cases and trace those contacts," Fenstersheib said.

Since June 16, there have been 28,861 tests done, with 38 percent being completed by the county. Of the total tests, 2 percent were positive. However, testing data suggests that the virus disproportionately impacts east San Jose, where 4 percent of tests are positive and South County, where 3 percent of tests are positive, according to Fenstersheib.

"The most important thing we are doing now is testing to know exactly where our cases are and who is being impacted so that instead of having wide-sweeping shelter-in-place orders that lock everybody down, we are able to in general release people as much back to their normal lives as possible while focusing on specific interventions on people who are cases or are contacts to cases," Assistant Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman said.

"In order to do that it is a massive venture that we have built over the last several months," Rudman said.

That venture is increasing staff for case investigation and contact tracing (CICT). Those who test positive are required to stay in isolation for two weeks. CICT staff will support the person in isolation by creating a plan to assist them with food, hospital visits or anything else they may require.

The county currently has 741 CICT staffers, exceeding the state's goal of 289 CICT staffers for Santa Clara County. Of that staff, 16 percent identify as Asian, 15 percent as Hispanic/Latino and 3 percent as Black.

All San Jose city council members shared their opinions regarding ways to improve the joint response with the county.

Councilmember Maya Esparza suggested updates to the testing websites to make it more user-friendly and Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco suggested changing testing hours from in the middle of a weekday to times that allow full-time workers to come get tested.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

resident
Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:06 am
resident, Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:06 am
12 people like this

I am glad that the county is taking the pandemic more seriously than some other parts of the country where hospitals are filling up again. We need to pause our reopening plan from time to time so the health care system can absorb the surges in new cases that happen with each new reopening phase.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:30 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:30 am
6 people like this

>> Since May 25, 160 worksites in Santa Clara County have reported at least one COVID-19 case, 53 percent of which were in construction

I've seen many people on construction sites doing unsafe things-- touching/sharing, talking in each others faces, etc., as I go for walks. I think this might be amenable to an educational campaign.

The other thing is, please don't reopen the bars. People don't go to bars to socially distance.

"More than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Minnesotans in their 20s in the Mankato area who said they went to bars on June 12 and 13 — the first weekend bars and restaurants were allowed to serve indoors.

"Two Mankato bars — Rounders and The 507 — were the focal points of that young adult outbreak"

Web Link

Another focal point is meat-packing plants. Are there any in SCC?


resident
Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:31 am
resident, Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:31 am
10 people like this

The CDC says New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have done a good job at containing COVID-19. The rest of the country not so much. NBC News report: Web Link


resident
Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 4:42 pm
resident, Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2020 at 4:42 pm
6 people like this

So much wishing that the virus will go away. All you are doing here, if anything, is slowing the inevitable spread of a not-so-fatal virus and adding social and economic damage to the public health issue. [Portion removed.]


Nicole
Midtown
on Jun 30, 2020 at 7:46 pm
Nicole , Midtown
on Jun 30, 2020 at 7:46 pm
9 people like this

While we all appreciate precaution we cannot keep sheltering everyone tanking our economy and actually endangering the healthy. We are past the point where we had no idea what this was. We have the numbers and the fact is people with health conditions and elderly we should have a safer plan for l. Everyone else will probably get the virus if they haven’t had it already which most likely have and guess what they are sick with flu like
Symptoms maybe a little more extreme but end up being ok and move about their life!!! We can’t keep living in fear and sheltering everyone. The second the election is over I bet this will “mysteriously” go away. Wake up everyone and stop listening to these fake numbers to scare you into taking away your liberties and distract you from what’s really going on. Let everyone live their life! No one is FORCING you out of your house so if your scared then stay home we can’t keep FORCING everyone IN!


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:01 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:01 pm
8 people like this

Recently seeing the phrase "Mask it or casket." A play on Click it or ticket.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 2:41 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 2:41 am
3 people like this

The aim should be to get the majority of those who are able and willing to return to some semblance of normal life not only for economic reasons but for social and mental health reasons. The increases in various types of abuse from alcohol, drugs, domestic and child, as well as increases in suicides and attempted suicide should be reason alone for the need to return lives to something more palatable than what we have had for the past 3 - 4 months.

The problem is of course how to do this safely, masks and social distancing are the obvious top choices.

It may not be possible to go to the theater, a concert, a sporting event, for quite some time but at least having these things available online or on tv should be one aim. Being in a remote audience can be a better way to view from the perspective of watching the action, but it does miss the ambience of attending in person. These activities are important for many, those employed by the event being obvious to start with. However, activities that do not involve the similar sized crowding together of people have to be viewed as being important.

The ability to socialize with those outside your household in reasonable sized groupings is an important return to normal life. How this should be done is varied across those more open communities. Is a group of 12 people more safe than a group of 25? Is a small office environment safer for employees than the employees of Costco or a bank?

Getting people back to work is more than getting the economy back on its feet. The human interaction factor of people meeting people, working together, playing together, and living together, are what we need to feel human again. The separations we have all suffered do not make for social harmony let alone peaceful coexistence.

So bring us back into our near normal lifestyles, not in an unsafe or reckless fashion, but with sensible precautions, reasonable guidelines, and a sense of hope. Otherwise, for many, there is no hope and no quality of life.


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