Santa Clara County tallied a record 512 COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period the day before Thanksgiving and wasted no time cracking down on businesses violating health orders.
As of noon on Friday, Nov. 27, the county had issued 76 fines to local businesses. The primary violations were failing to submit and post revised rules about social distancing.
Earlier in the week, the county stripped away its grace period for businesses to fix issues before being fined and promised to crack down. A county spokesperson said businesses will have 30 days to pay a fine or 72 hours to resolve it. (Business compliance officers will never ask a business for money upfront. Officers will have on yellow vests and produce identification.)
Fines can begin at the $250 level and can go into the thousands for offending businesses, and there can be fines for multiple violations, according to the county. Anyone wishing to report suspected violations can do so at sccCOVIDconcerns.org.
As of Nov. 29, Santa Clara County had 34,292 COVID-19 cases, 476 deaths and a seven-day rolling average of 417 new cases per day. In addition, 272 people were hospitalized with the virus -- a jump of 50 people in just two days. Of these, 74 were in intensive care units and 186 out of 631 ventilators were in use.
The soaring case rate raised alarm among health officials as hospitals braced to admit more patients.
"We are really, really concerned," said COVID-19 Testing Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. "All of the metrics that we have been following that have done well in previous months have gone up very steeply."
In July, amid a previous surge, the highest case rate the county recorded was 385 cases in a single day.
"We do not want to be in a place where we see the kinds of challenges in our hospitals that unfortunately some communities elsewhere in the United States and around the world have had to deal with," said County Counsel James Williams.
Meanwhile, the county plans to offer appointment-only COVID-19 testing next week in Los Gatos, Mountain View, Cupertino, Campbell and Palo Alto and will offer flu tests at the same time. Palo Alto's next testing day is Friday, Dec. 4; residents can sign up here. (Note that fewer than 50 slots remain for that day, as of Monday morning.)
Walk-up testing is available in San Jose and Gilroy this week but flu tests will only be included at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose.
Fenstersheib emphasized that people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 need to get tested, especially if they are in close contact with family members and co-workers.
"New studies have shown that a majority of transmissions are caused by people who are asymptomatic and likely don't know that they are potentially spreading the disease to family, co-workers and anyone they come in contact with," Fenstersheib said. "They need to know they have the virus so they can isolate and break the transmission chain, even if they don't feel sick."
This story was originally published by San Jose Spotlight. Find the original link with additional content and testing site details here.