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Lagging behind, Santa Clara County tries to boost COVID testing

Original post made on May 8, 2020

As Los Angeles and Sacramento counties announced coronavirus testing for all of their residents, including those exhibiting no symptoms, Santa Clara County has lagged behind -- to the frustration of local leaders.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 8, 2020, 6:41 AM

Comments (63)

131 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 8:51 am

The governor has set guidelines for reopening the economy in California counties. Two of the primary metrics are testing levels and test results. Right now, Santa Clara County is far below the testing level we need to reopen the economy. No matter whose fault this is, we need to fix this right now.


28 people like this
Posted by midtown2
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 9:01 am

Hoping someone can explain how it is any comfort to have a diagnostic test that turns out negative. Don't we think that the very next day we could be infected? Certainly I am missing something - look forward to an explanation.


29 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 10:46 am

Simple. This country no longer has the manufacturing capability to mass-produce stuff, such as chemicals, swabs, specialty papers, etc. for testing.

Even if there is a good technology, great invention, we look to other countries such as China to make it. From iPhone to Penicillin, from Nike shoes to face masks.

Wall Street has hollowed out this country for decades in search for profit. Liberals made it much worse by always being cynical about local factory "working conditions" and inciting worker rebellions.


71 people like this
Posted by Bob Gleason
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2020 at 10:48 am

We live in the most innovative county in the Bay Area. Home of the most success and leading edge companies on the planet. It is embarrassing that after 9 weeks of shutdown that this lack of testing excuse continues to come up. Stop pointing fingers and put together a specific action plan with a specific target date to eliminate this lack of testing problem. Come on leaders.. this is not that hard of a problem to resolve.. Unless of course the "lack of testing" is a convenient excuse to keep things shutdown.


29 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 8, 2020 at 10:57 am

Looks like county leadership has been too busy patting themselves on the back for the relatively early shutdown order and addressing non-essential issues like getting gardeners and construction crews back to work instead of getting us all the testing needed to help bring everyone out of lockdown.


9 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Stanford
on May 8, 2020 at 11:11 am

Many people would like to know if they had the virus. The recent study testing for Covid 19 antibodies in Santa Clara (conducted by scientists at Stanford) has been fairly criticized by peer-review for the assumptions the investigators made about the accuracy of tests, as well as sampling bias.
The serology tests used in this study were obtained from a US company that distributes home test kits from China. There are several companies in the US that have been granted distribution rights by the FDA to distribute these tests in the US, and there are several companies in China manufacturing the tests. Some tests have higher accuracy than others. None are 100% accurate, as the Stanford study assumed. If someone told you that the test indicated you had Covid19 virus antibodies with 85% accuracy, how would that change your behavior? What if it was 90% accurate? I fear that most people would not hear the bit about accuracy and act as if they were immune. If this is the case, what is the risk to the public? Let's evaluate how this risk depends on test accuracy.


13 people like this
Posted by Wake up
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2020 at 11:12 am

Finally, it appears people are starting to wake up! Frightening that it’s taken so long but glad to see it happen.


42 people like this
Posted by Clara Drivers
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 11:14 am

This is all wrong. We are already testing enough people in this county (too many, actually). The reason to do more testing is to drive the positive rate low enough to ensure that we are catching all or most people who have the virus, so we can isolate them and find their contacts and isolate those people. The WHO recommends a positive rate <10%. South Korea and Taiwan, who have done an amazing job at testing and contact tracing, are at about a 3% positive test rate. Santa Clara County is now BELOW 1%. On May 6th, there were 3 positive results out of 1262 tested, or a 0.2% positive rate. The day before that, there were 8 positive results out of 1193 tested, or 0.7%. The rate is dropping every day, yet we still talk of needing to test 4,000 or even more people each day before we realize that the hammer has worked in our county, and now we need to teach this state and this country how to dance! I'm appalled at other states who are opening up too soon, with cases per day still growing and positive test rates well over 10%, which will no doubt lead to more spread. But this is not the situation here in Santa Clara County, and we are wasting a golden opportunity to take the lead on this and show other counties and states how to slowly open up the economy the right way.


50 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 11:20 am

It would seem that at this point that our local political leaders need to step in and start making some hard decisions. So far they have seemed content to let Dr. Cody, our public health officer, set policy.

But Dr. Cody is narrowly responsible for public health. We expect our local leaders to take into account the entire picture - including the damage done by our public health policies. The hard reality is that they will have to achieve a balance between public health perfection and the real and long lasting damage caused by shelter in place.

Setting an unattainable testing goal as a gating criteria for starting to safely and thoughtfully open our economy, with no plan as to how to achieve that goal or timeline to achieve it, is a great example. That policy only has the public health lens in mind - there is no backpressure on it based on economic and other damage being done in the meantime.

I'd expect our political leaders to recognize this dilemma, and put in place a mitigation strategy - of course they need to put in place policies to accellerate development of testing, but they also need to look at alternative strategies that maintain public health as much as possible given the short or even medium term reality of that we aren't going to have enought tests for a while.

That is going to take actual leadership, and making hard trade-offs. I think this is what we elect them for...



11 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2020 at 11:24 am

Our priorities seem confused. I am in high risk group based on my age, lungs, one beloved kidney, medical history...however, I have done my research on the practical limitations of testing "everyone".

I manage my risks with very limited and very calculated time outside my home. This means no contact with friends and family who are only a few blocks away.

Bottom line: Testing has very real limitations to serve everyone now and for the foreseeable future. Equipment, reagents, etc are in short supply. I could be tested now but there is very little value to me. Many more people have much higher priority.

I trust city and county officials to access testing capacity at warp, practical speed and then allocate testing to the highest priority citizens and workers.


36 people like this
Posted by T
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2020 at 11:33 am

Santa Clara is being too defensive about reopening. Sara Cody needs a wake up call.. while they did good work closing quickly, they just seem to be sitting back after that rather than working towards reopening.
Being shut down the way we are is going to make things worse from this point. Please work towards reopening and take a more positive tone than being scared of 2nd wave.
People are already running out of patience and after a certain point, shelter at home orders won't matter. March 15th to May 31st is already 76 days of lockdown which is equivalent to Wuhan.
But neither is it strict enough nor effective except its killing people's business


16 people like this
Posted by westridge7
a resident of Portola Valley
on May 8, 2020 at 11:42 am

Sheer unacceptable incompetence by county leadership across the board. We live in Silicon Valley - supposedly the epicenter of entrepreneurial capitalism - but can't manage to offer a fraction of the tests parts of California (never mind the nation) we probably see as far more "backward" have been managing for weeks. In corporate America, people get removed from their jobs for inpetitude of this level, as they should with an issue of this magnitude. Whether or not they continue to keep all their employees working from home through December 31, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc., should assign a couple of their best/brightest to get this straightened out in the next 10 days and get San Mateo and Santa Clara functional again. I'd owe them a debt of gratitude if they did.


78 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 12:12 pm

@Clara Drivers, what you said works in normal situations. But this is not normal. Excessive testing, if you will, is needed so people and employers can have a peace of mind. This is about social psychology.

For example, I would not want the cleaning ladies who used to come every week before COVID19 to resume her service unless they have and can be tested regularly, no matter how low risk statistics will say.


25 people like this
Posted by Mike W
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2020 at 12:19 pm

1,900,000 live in Santa Clara County, 127 have died and 2,200 have been diagnosed. There is no need for testing and no need to shut down the economy. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Mike W
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm

m2grs you are entitled! you have more risk of dieing from a heart attack or driving to work if you still work!


41 people like this
Posted by A Sane Person
a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2020 at 12:27 pm

This is madness. And this article is not helpful. Kniss's plight doesn't show our county's lack of testing capacity, it shows that our county has overly restrictive test eligibility requirements. Our county test positivity rate is under 1%. Most immunologists will tell you that a number that low is a sign of over testing. The reason we don't have the number of "required" tests is because people are not symptomatic. We will never reach that testing goal because we don't have enough symptomatic people. The data on the county's own website show all this. Dr. Cody needs an intervention.


39 people like this
Posted by Turn off fox 'news' , , ,
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2020 at 12:32 pm

- Certainly I am missing something

Yes, you are. Try googling the CDC or Dr Fauci. Look at Singapore, South Korea or Germany.

Turn off Fox.


35 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Who elected Sara Cody, and why is she driving all government policy through her very narrow lens?

There has been plenty of testing, and the data clearly and consistently shows a very low infection and spread rate. it is one of the lowest of any urban area in the US. That should be enough to at least try some opening strategies.

Even if you believe that more testing is necessary, it is unconscionable that after 11 weeks there is still no plan in place for testing. You can walk into Quest diagnostics right now and get an antibody test, it takes 5 minutes and returns the results overnight.

Instead of hiring and training armies of "contract tracers" -- great, more bureaucracy -- why not use that money to pay Stanford, Quest, and others to ramp up tests?

By the way, Santa Clara is the 5th wealthiest county in America, so don't tell me we don't have the resources. It's about Sara Cody setting an impossible goal of "zero cases, zero spread". How about another victory lap?



24 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on May 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm

I wish someone in power would question the need for 4000 tests. I believe that was something from a paper by a group from Harvard, but I can't find it. There is nothing magical about that 4000 number. There is no evidence that SCC is somehow short of testing. With the current testing numbers go down every day as we are now at 111 hospitalizations. Further, with so few with sick, how do we get to 4000? The test is unpleasant and puts one in a medical setting. Maybe Liz Kniss wants a test, but most people don't.

The same goes for tracing. I read in the Merc that we can currently trace 75 people per day in SCC. The covid dashboard lists only 11 new cases today. We are already in a fine position for tracing.

I don't see any justification for not moving into stage 2 of reopening with the state.


33 people like this
Posted by Be accurate
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 8, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Funny ...
There are four other counties within an hour drive. There are people crossing two or three county borders during their daily commute. Santa Clara is not an island like Singapore, or semi-island, like S Korea, and for sure not as disciplined as those countries.
The Bay Area has to be taken as a whole. Talk about waking up ...


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Posted by NeilsonBuchanan, a resident of Downtown North

>> Our priorities seem confused. I am in high risk group based on my age, lungs, one beloved kidney, medical history... [...] I manage my risks with very limited and very calculated time outside my home. This means no contact with friends and family who are only a few blocks away.

It could be very useful to you to know that certain family (or friends) that you -must- have some contact with have high levels of antibodies (with high probability) but are not active carriers. I'm just saying that identifying people who are extremely low risk to transmit to you could be very useful. (I am *not* saying that this testing capability is available yet.)

Posted by T, a resident of Mountain View

>> Santa Clara is being too defensive about reopening.

Evidence?

>> Being shut down the way we are is going to make things worse from this point. Please work towards reopening

Reopening *what*? Construction has restarted, some outdoor jobs, most software dev. and many/most office jobs have been working all along if many/most can work remotely. The question now is what non-essential commercial establishments can reopen, and, how they can reopen safely.

>> and take a more positive tone than being scared of 2nd wave.

Please do some more research. If you are thinking restaurants/bars/etc, from everything known right now, that would be a bad idea. I feel sorry for sit-down restaurant owners and the employees, but, most of their establishments cannot be responsibly reopened right now-- the probability of virus transmission is too high. The virus just replicates and transmits-- it doesn't care about your optimism or positive tone.


11 people like this
Posted by Clara Drivers
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 2:01 pm

@A Sane Person - you are absolutely correct.

@Messifan - the 4000 number is likely derived from the Harvard study recommending 150 tests per day per 100,000 people, which across the country is probably a good average. That number is based on testing enough people to catch those infected and isolate them and their contacts. But the actual number we need to test locally depends on the positive rate locally - if the rate is already very low, as it is now in SCC, we are already testing enough.

@m2grs - I appreciate your viewpoint, but there's no way the county is going to pay to test every employee of every service provider weekly. That would be well north of 4000 tests per day in a county of 2 million people. Dr. Cody's push for increased testing doesn't derive from social psychology, it's based on a previously established goal that did make sense when we were seeing 70-80 cases per day in SCC.


31 people like this
Posted by T
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2020 at 2:06 pm

@Anon, please keep your assumptions to yourself about my research.
I understand the need for physical distancing and mitigating the spread of virus.
I am not referring to restaurants and bars but a multitude of other things considered "non-essential" and being shut down causing historic unemployment.

The truth is, there is lot more data available about how serious this virus is and how it disproportionately kill older people with comorbidities.

Also, another truth is that curve flattened in bay area almost 3 week back. All surge capacity beds are empty and hospitals in santa clara don't even have 15% capacity filled with COVID-19 patients. All this data is available on SC county dashboard.

I am not against being careful and I am not saying lets open everything. I have saying we need a better plan rather than this big hammer of keeping everyone at home.

The reason I say too defensive is because despite new infection rate "dropping" for several weeks, Sara Cody doesn't seem to show any signs of urgency in "moving forward".

I read atleast one research paper relevant to COVID-19 everyday and the general consensus is that outdoor transmission is comparatively less. Why can't people be allowed to go to beaches then if they can maintain distance? This is just one of the examples of unnecessary restrictions specially on less vulnerable people.

Out of the top 100 clusters of coronavirus, around 90% are care homes/meat processing plants/prisons.

The stanford study and other similar studies done in NY tell us that infection is much widespread than we initially thought. There can be debates about exactly how widespread based on accuracy of tests but we know for certain they are much more widespread than being currently reported. What that means is mortality rate is lower. So, rather than taking this positive, Sara Cody goes on to say that "this means there are many more people waiting to infect others". Sure that's another way to look at it but rather highlight both sides and accept mortality is lower and this isn't as dangerous as was initially thought.

Despite all of the data about 1. widespread infections 2. flattened curve 3. empty hospitals 4. known clusters of infections etc. there are some people who continue to parrot the fear mongering negative tone with regards to coronavirus rather than trying to move forward logically and in a balanced way.

To add to that, people's health is also getting impacted by SIP. So its not just economic and SIP is not going to make us healthier. We need a more balanced selective approach rather than this BIG HAMMER of SIP


27 people like this
Posted by T
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Sara Cody needs to be woken up! Its time to move forward.
I am not saying open everything suddenly, but we need to move forward and loosen restrictions
For why I think so, please see my earlier comment


1 person likes this
Posted by Clara Drivers
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 2:18 pm

@Be accurate - you make a good point that we should look at surrounding counties and not just SCC when making these decisions. And you are correct in assuming that some nearby counties aren't doing as well as SCC - San Mateo and San Francisco counties, for example, still have positive testing rates of 5-7% and daily case rates per capita higher than SCC. That means those counties should probably be doing more testing and may not be quite as ready as SCC to move to Phase 2. But to suggest that the entire bay area needs to be in as good a shape as SCC for any county to take small steps seems overly conservative.

I realize we cannot control our borders with neighboring counties - perhaps we should be sharing some of SCC's extra tests with them to help them achieve the same level of success we have had here.


6 people like this
Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2020 at 2:19 pm

My husband and I have been going to Dignity Health for Covad testing. They will test you for the virus with a nose swab using the Abbott Labs test. We received a postcard on this.

They will also test you for antibodies, specifically the IgG antibody using the ELISA test. Go to this website and sign up for a virtual visit to start the process.

Web Link

Medicare pays for this at no cost to us. You do not need to be symptomatic.

Monty and Judy Frost


17 people like this
Posted by Dave E
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 2:28 pm

OK then, I think Liz just lost my vote. She insists on being tested even though she has no symptoms of an infection and drives out of town, violating the stay at home order to do it. Potentially making it harder for people in Hayward that really need a test to get it. All to get a test result that says yesterday you weren't sick. Does she know what the RT-PCR test means? Brilliant. Entitled much?


3 people like this
Posted by data ANALysis, paralysis, obfuscation
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Not all COVID19 tests are the same. Only the PCR tests is reliable but
it could take days to get the results. The "Emergency Use Authorization"
rapid tests are not yet proven to be reliable.
The media and academic community are slowly waking up and pointing
those out after politicians started to "open" up, and people in
high places were found COVID19 positive suddenly.

The leaders thought throwing money at the problem would solve everything.
Just sat back, kept complaining, promising "it is coming, it is coming",
accepting thanks for what people did by staying at home while they
did half-ass job, still not getting things ready in place!


2 people like this
Posted by Don't-Test-Me--Test-The-Man-Behind-The-Tree
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2020 at 2:53 pm

The following tables provide some insight into what it would take in terms of time to test the nation at least once, using existing test technologies, assuming that a test could be completed in a day--

Tests Time to Test
per day Nation (Months)
--------- ----
200000 55
300000 37
400000 28
500000 22
600000 18
700000 16
1000000 11
1100000 10
1200000 9
1300000 8


And if the testing really increases--

Time to
Tests Test Nation
per day (Months)
------- ----
500,000 22
1,000,000 11
2,000,000 6
3,000,000 4
4,000,000 3

These numbers don’t consider the costs—which could easily run to $30+-50+B (or more) each time a complete testing of the nation is required.

Without a paradigm shift in testing technology, and a national registry of people who have been tested—then all of this testing will not necessarily provide much in the way of controlling the pandemic.

There are a lot of people in this country who probably will not willingly volunteer to be tested. Will the various Federal/State/Local governments end up mandating testing—with failure to comply ending up in forced testing and/or incarceration?


6 people like this
Posted by midtown2
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 3:11 pm

to Turn Off Fox News - I don't have radio or tv, barely have internet. I hope Liz Kniss, then, will let me know why she found it reassuring to have a negative diagnostic test. To me that just means she did not have it at the moment of testing. Does not mean that she might get infected the next day. If I am wrong, please don't direct me to other sites. If I am wrong, I could get the answer, I think, in one sentence.


Like this comment
Posted by midtown2
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 3:14 pm

to Turn Off Fox News - corrected version I don't have radio or tv, barely have internet. I hope Liz Kniss, then, will let me know why she found it reassuring to have a negative diagnostic test. To me that just means she did not have it at the moment of testing. Does not mean that she might not get infected the next day. If I am wrong, please don't direct me to other sites. If I am wrong, I could get the answer, I think, in one sentence.


15 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Thank you T and Clara Drivers (and others in support). When you step back and look at our current numbers as well as the unprecedented restrictions and harm the SIP is causing, staying as we are does not make sense anymore! I am not spouting some Fox News opinion that we should never curtail any freedoms, but just that we cannot justify the current restrictions any longer with the current level of Covid risk. Setting an impossible goal of testing per day (which as others have pointed out much more eloquently than me, becomes more and more difficult the lower our numbers get -- where are we going to find symptomatic people to test? How many people have even gotten so much as a simple cold while staying at home for weeks?) makes it look like our officials aren't giving sufficient weight to the downsides of sheltering in place.

I would hope that public health officials would be the exact people qualified to weigh the risks of Covid against the societal harms of sheltering at this level, but I'm a little worried that maybe someone trained as a doctor is inclined to fear the possibility of any deaths and can't fairly evaluate that possibility against the huge societal harm we are doing (justified at first, not justified at this point). Look at the news about rising food insecurity and overwhelmed food banks, so many people are hurting right now. These are very difficult decisions but our officials need to have the courage to make changes, even though of course any change they make could be eventually be criticized. Fear of criticism from making changes probably is what is driving their slow response -- remember when they were reluctant to close schools at first, who wants to bet they'll also be quite reluctant to reopen them (not at all saying we should reopen now, just pointing out that I think our officials are overly biased toward maintaining the status quo, even when the status quo is extreme). Every decision they make inevitably hurts some people and helps others...I don't envy their position but do think they are making the wrong choice right now. We should be in phase 2 next week.


23 people like this
Posted by Minister of Silly Walks
a resident of Stanford
on May 8, 2020 at 4:06 pm

This whole thing is devolving into some Monty-Python-Orwellian nightmare...
HEALTH MINISTER: We cannot open unless you bring me 4,000 tests per day!
CITIZEN: Okay, can I get tested?
HM: Do you have any symptoms?
CITIZEN: No.
HM: No test for you!
CITIZEN: Well, if hardly anyone is having any symptoms, which by the way isn't at all surprising since less than 0.2% of county tests are positive, how are we supposed to bring you your 4,000 tests per day?
HM: Then we will have no choice but to wait until enough people get symptomatic so we reach our magic number.
CITIZEN: But we've all been stuck at home for two months. How are we going to get sick?
HM: Mission accomplished.


9 people like this
Posted by Wake up!
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Hallelujah it appears people are finally waking up!

I have just one thing to say and honest to god I cannot believe I am even having to make this statement but it is specific to m2grs comment ‘I would not want the cleaning ladies who used to come every week before COVID19 to resume her service unless they have and can be tested regularly, no matter how low risk statistics will say’.

Maybe, just maybe, you will have to suffer up and clean your house yourself until this is all worked out. If you are unable to clean your house I am truly sorry, these are tough times for many. Lot of people have no income, no jobs, can’t pay rent or purchase groceries.


23 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Dr. Cody and health officials are making mono-channel decisions based on an impossible standard of “zero deaths and zero cases”. This is complete fantasy.

The politicians are making reactive decisions to show they are “doing something” and “trusting science”. It’s a race to prove they are the anti-Trump.

But that doesn’t mean the decisions are correct. In fact many of them appear to fly in the face of logic and actual observed data.

Who loses? All of us.


13 people like this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Sitting back and letting Dr. Cody say shut everything down and keep it shut down is the easy part. But the time has come for the county's politicians to take it from here, and get some actual work done (which some are starting to do). They can fiddle no longer while Rome burns.


6 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 8, 2020 at 5:04 pm

Why is Kniss trying to get tested if she has no symptoms?
She is just taking a test from someone who has symptoms.
Why is trump getting rested every day.
This is stupid.


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2020 at 5:26 pm

We need more tests. Santa Clara County is a wealthy county. If there’s no budget, then they are incompetent or have too high of a costly payroll.
Smug local politicians in Santa Clara County (and Palo Alto) should NOT get to leap the line as they drive to another county.
Where is MY test?


11 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on May 8, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Too many people debating testing, which misses the point.

Testing is not meaningful without tracing and quarantining. SCC is in the process of hiring and training 600 tracers.

These people are needed to follow up on all the contacts of the infected and isolate and repeatedly test those contacts.

If a robust process is not set up to handle this, we will be back to where we were in February, when a few cases exploded into a full scale pandemic while everybody in the US sat on their thumbs.

It is unfortunate that Palo Alto has so many amateur epidemiologists who think they know more than Sara Cody.
Look at what countries that are serious snout it are doing. Anybody coming into Taiwan is placed into an enforced 14-day quarantine. In Hong Kong, they place an electronic bracelet on people to link them to their phone. These countries have recent experiences with epidemics. American tend to be incredibly naive and arrogant.


11 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Chris,

You say that “SCC is hiring 600 tracers.” Ok, really? How long will that take? Weeks? Months? And what about training? Who are they hiring? What hasn’t the esteemed Dr. Cody provided any update on timeline? Because she is operating in a narrow mindset, with no sense of urgency other than wagging their fingers at us like we are children.

By the way, couldn’t we try a few other strategies while we wait for the army of tracers to magically appear? Is that really the only tool at our disposal? I doubt it.

As for your derisive comments about us being amateur epidemiologists - I don’t think anyone here is claiming to have the same credentials as Dr. Cody. But we are looking at the same data as her, and it is completely illogical to sit around for all this time, without a plan and without taking into the account the larger risks our inaction is causing.

It is just common sense, so please stop belittling those who exercise it.


1 person likes this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2020 at 9:33 pm

@John,
"You say that 'SCC is hiring 600 tracers.' Ok, really? How long will that take? Weeks? Months? And what about training? Who are they hiring?"

I would add, and how are they dealing with the language issues? The SCC Dashboard alone is in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog (and our voting ballots come in even more). If those languages are needed for the Dashboard, I assume different languages will be needed for the contact tracing process, too. Because as we keep hearing in the news, "minority" communities are the hardest hit by the virus, and will therefore need the most contact tracing. Given how government works, all that will take months to put in place.


9 people like this
Posted by Person
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2020 at 9:44 pm

@Chris

I completely agree with you. From what I heard officials in Santa Clara and nearby counties say, it isn't only about testing. There needs to be robust contact tracing set up as well.

Sarah Cody is working with officials from nearby counties, not independently. The public health officials working on this are experts. It's not just about looking at raw data. There is a lot more to it than that. I'm sure they have been working on different scenarios and strategies behind the scenes. If anything, I feel much safer here than anywhere else in the US. Our numbers are very low because of the shelter in place. I would rather keep it that way. We are slowly opening things up, but in a calculated way. I would rather have the public health experts have everything in place before we reopen rather than just winging it like other counties.

We have low levels of covid cases now. Do we remember what happened back in February? It started with just a couple of cases and the number grew very quickly. That could easily happen again in the blink of an eye...even with just one infected person. That's all it takes. Let's be grateful that so many lives have been saved and that they are getting everything set up for us to reopen SAFELY.


8 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm

Person,

Thanks for making my point. We have incredibly low infection rates, possibly due to early SIP. No issues there. But SIP no longer makes sense given those numbers.

Why do you trust that officials are studying and making plans? How do you know they have strategies and scenarios in the works? They’ve said nothing about it other than “we’re the experts, do as we say”.

We deserve a real plan and real explanations for these choices. People would be more willing to comply if we had that honest dialogue.


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2020 at 10:35 pm

Person,

Thanks for making my point. We have incredibly low infection rates, possibly due to early SIP. No issues there. But SIP no longer makes sense given those numbers. Logic tells us that when the risk diminishes, you ease the alert, not tighten it.

Why do you trust that officials are studying and making plans? How do you know they have strategies and scenarios in the works? They’ve said nothing about it other than “we’re the experts, do as we say”.

We deserve a real plan and real explanations for these choices. People would be more willing to comply if we had that honest dialogue.


4 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on May 8, 2020 at 10:51 pm

John,

The restrictions are being relaxed. A number of modifications were effective last Monday. If cases continue down, more restrictions can be relaxed.

Do you not think that given the current level of cases, not just in SCC but the Bay Area and California, the number of cases would explode if all restrictions were relaxed. Which restrictions would you relax and which would you keep at this time?


Like this comment
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2020 at 11:08 pm

I'd like to urge readers check out this wikipedia link: Web Link

When is the last time so many "famous" people in the world have died in such a short time due to one disease?

Yes most of are older people. But that's why testing is important. If there is a commitment to test in scale the cost will go down dramatically too.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 9, 2020 at 2:53 am

^ Donald Kennedy is the only name I recognized in that wikipedia Covid list.


12 people like this
Posted by Person
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2020 at 6:23 am

@ John

Restrictions are in fact being lifted due to the low infection rates (parks are now open, outdoor businesses and construction can operate, new outdoor activities are allowed, non-essential medical procedures and surgeries can resume). A SIP order doesn't mean you have to stay home either; there is still a lot you can do. You can technically still visit family and/or friends if you really wanted to; nobody is going to arrest you for doing that. The main things that are shut down right now are stores, restaurants (for dine in), highly trafficked public areas. Which of these would you open up? And how would you handle the sudden increase in cases, which will inevitably happen, especially with travel? As soon as the SIP lifted not only will we have people from Santa Clara county in local businesses but people from other counties, and other states, coming to visit friends and/or family, or coming to shop or dine. I think people are underestimating how quickly this virus will spread as soon as we start to open up.

You cannot use the logic of low infection rates means we get rid of SIP. That simply does not work. The low infection rate is a temporary result. When restrictions are lifted, infection rates increase. And if lifted too soon, they will spike. The only way to ensure that the number of infections stay relatively low is to ensure proper testing and contact tracing, which we do not yet have in place. And by easing restrictions slowly, the county can more closely follow new cases and ensure they have an understanding of how and where transmission is happening.

Would you prefer that we just lift SIP and go back to where we were in February?

Of course the officials are studying and making plans. Do you think they are just casually sitting around? These are people who are well educated and experienced. This is not just one person setting guidelines, but rather a collaborative effort among different bay area counties. You are forgetting that these are the same people that ultimately saved so many lives in the bay area and took this seriously from the beginning.

There is in fact dialogue from Santa Clara and nearby counties regarding SIP orders. They have been transparent in that this is a new virus and how they are working through this. I have read and listened to interviews not only with Dr. Sara Cody, but with other health officials, including several at UCSF. I for one am grateful that we are taking things slow here and saving lives in the process.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 9, 2020 at 7:34 am

Person,

“You cannot use the logic that low infection rates means we get rid of SIP”. Huh? What benchmark would you use then? Low infection rates (some of the lowest in urban America!) is *precisely* the benchmark to relax restrictions. That’s actual, not projected, evidence of what is happening right now in our area.

You also say that “infections would spike”. Really? How do you know? We have no idea how many active spreaders are out there right now, but data tells us there are far fewer than in February when we barely knew anything about the disease. And what constitutes a Spike anyway? 10 deaths? 100? Isn’t there some level of acceptable risk? I think the vast majority of citizens believe there has to be, but not Dr. Cody.

If you recall, SIP was implemented as a tactic. It was an extreme measure to flatten the curve and make sure hospitals weren’t overrun. The curve has flattened. The hospitals are empty. [Portion removed.]

I want to repeat that no one is advocating for a total opening up. Far from it. But there are many things we could do, and are doing, to open up with significantly reduced risk. Masks, curbside retail, antibody testing, and more. Yes, there would be risk of infection but people in our area are acting responsibly. And we would are more knowledgeable and better prepared, if a significant spike materializes.

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by midtown2
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2020 at 7:51 am

Why is receiving a negative diagnostic test reassuring? Some diseases take a long time to develop: a negative test in that case can be encouraging. But with this disease?
And what about a positive result if you were asymptomatic? You might conclude that you were one of the people who have it without ever having symptoms. Or that you were only in some early stage.


1 person likes this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2020 at 12:09 pm

@midtown2, nothing is perfectly risk-free. But more testing definitely reduces the risk, and makes people more comfortable.

By the way, what is a Contact Tracer? Modern day KGB agent?

It seems to me China is winning. They have built the vast AI-powered monitoring system, with cameras not only on every corner of the streets, but on every bus, every taxi, every hallway in every building, plus the tracing of cell phones everywhere, and drones to fly over and warn people of violations.

It is dystopian. But violent crimes are rare because of this vast system. During COVID19 the system is being used to track potential contacts of infected persons very efficiently, much better than the utterly laughable low-tech so-called Contact Tracer agents.




6 people like this
Posted by Joe Rich
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Thank you. I am from Santa Clara, and I have been saying there is something wrong in Santa Clara and California for weeks, but everyone is so mesmerized by Newsom that they will not question his daily low info ramblings. This is the best article on the lack of testing in Santa Clara I have seen. Our testing rate is about half of the national average.


2 people like this
Posted by Jill
a resident of Mountain View
on May 9, 2020 at 6:41 pm

Why is Verily able to test anyone with no symptoms in Sacramento Web Link
, however in Santa Clara, even though this was one of the first places they had testing, they still don't offer testing without symptoms - how are we going to catch the asymptomatic super spreaders? In Australia, after finding that a nursing home worker with no symptoms (the 'tiniest tickle in their throat') was positive (in a nursing home where 17 patients have died so far) , they have advised all members of public can be tested regardless of whether have any symptoms. There is also pollen around and with the warmer weather some seasonal allergy symptoms have gotten worse - many people may be confusing allergy symptoms with their sore throat symptom (CDC updated symptoms of Covid 19 to include sore throat only in late April). I agree that of course frontline workers need to be tested first but shouldn't the tests have been ramped up by now that anyone could get one?


2 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2020 at 7:06 pm

I’ve been trying to get tested for over a month. No luck.
It makes no sense that this country cannot implement sufficient testing. DT said anyone who wants a test can get one. I want a test and cannot get one.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Tonight's news says Anthony Fauci as well as the directors of the CDC and FDA were exposed to COVID-19 at the White House, presumably from Mike Pence's press secretary who has tested positive. Frequent testing of White House staff will hopefully limit the risk to senior citizens like Dr Fauci. Testing does work to reduce the spread of the virus, but only if it is widely available. CNN News report: Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Person
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2020 at 8:32 pm

@John

Low infection rates doesn't mean you get rid of SIP. It is a good indicator that we have beaten the first hurdle of flattening the curve, and are currently in a good place. But what we need in order to lift the SIP is (as mentioned before): 1) Higher levels of testing, and 2) Robust contact tracing. You cannot reopen successfully without those things in place. We are still re-opening cautiously, but at a slower pace, while testing and contact tracing are ramped up.

You are very focused on the "now". Right "now" we have few infections. True. But that can and will change in an instant. We don't lock down our county borders. As soon as businesses open up and the SIP is lifted (and over time), people will be visiting from other cities, counties, states, and countries. We live in a diverse area with a lot of travel and different groups of people who could have visitors. Think about when universities re-open and students from all over the world come back here. And think about how quickly this virus could spread through dorm rooms, college campuses, schools, etc. once they re-open. That's just one example of why we can't focus on the cases as they stand now. We flattened the curve to not overwhelm hospitals, and get cases down to a manageable rate, so that....we can better manage them...and that takes testing and contact tracing.

Infections will increase when the SIP is lifted, from people infected in this area (in any of the nearby counties), or anywhere else. It really doesn't matter that you may think we have few cases now. They will increase when things open up. This is common knowledge, and also common sense. And they may spike, if we cannot identify positive cases and isolate them. This is precisely what happened in February. It started off with just a couple of known cases and they couldn't keep up with the spread after a point in time. This is a very infectious disease. If we go back to normal without protocols in place, there will inevitably be another spike.

Are you stating that you prefer to just open everything up and then shut down again later when there will be another spike in cases? What Sara Cody and others are trying to do is to not have that happen and instead re-open slowly but not have to go back to another SIP. They are monitoring case numbers as restrictions are lifted, and if things look good, they will continue to lift additional restrictions. Meanwhile, we are getting everything in place to manage the disease which will inevitably affect our county and others. And buying time for new treatments to become not only identified but available for use (Remdesivir is not currently widely available, so at this point there really are no treatments).



3 people like this
Posted by midtown2
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2020 at 9:38 am

M2grs, thank you for your response to me. I wanted to answer right away but the available laptop didn't permit that.
Nobody has answered my question - why is a negative diagnostic test result reassuring?
I will answer myself: it is reassuring if you and 95% of the total number of residents in Palo Alto all have negative diagnostic tests.
Then the chance of being infected while going out in Palo Alto is low.
If you don't know that 95% have this negative result, then you cannot be sure that you won't be unlucky the next time you go out.
If 95% of Palo Altans test negative and none of them leave town and nobody from outside comes in, that's reassuring, and normal life resumes.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 10, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Mike Pence says if one of your employees tests positive, you don't have to self-quarantine. Just get get tested every day and have all your other employees get tested every day. There should be no problem getting tests for everyone.


18 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 11, 2020 at 12:27 pm

@Person

You are putting up a strawman argument.

I read entire discussion on the board. No one is advocating complete opening up.

I have heard Dr. Cody speak.

I still can't find any outrage among SCC citizens regarding the following:

1. If it was known that 1000 contact tracers are needed then why are we still weeks away from meeting that goal. With nine weeks in this should have been accomplished within four weeks. I thought this was an emergency.

2. SCC had the highest infection rate in early March, after Seattle in the country if I recall. Why do we have less testing than Sacramento, LA or neighboring counties in the bay area. Why is it easier it get tested in Hayward or Fremont than in SCC.

3. Do you think Spain and other places that are slowly opening up have lower infection rate than SCC?

4. If you are concerned about the deaths due to Covid-19 we should consider the risks and deaths due to Covid-19 in long term due to negative health stress of all kind that people are going to suffer due to depression, loss of income, and other consequences of fighting the epidemic including extending SIP more than necessary.

5. I don't know if the public officials are making right decisions and planning. I hope they are. But I would like that to be independently verified. Any magic numbers need to be verified. We should always question "why" when any information is given.

6. Why is the bay area SIP getting longer than Wuhan and Italy.

7. A trade off is part of decision making. No one can predict the future. The dire picture you paint of what will happen if SIP is lifted today won't change irrespective of when it is lifted between now and August.

8. There going to be no better treatments available for at least next 3 months.

9. We are not New Zealand or Taiwan. We have to plan assuming that infections would never be non-zero till vaccine is available. You can't prevent people from other parts of the country visiting SCC. We need to pick a number that we are willing to accept as daily or weekly infection cases.

10. Opening up and ending SIP is not a binary. It is gradual, careful and commonsense. Why is picnic ban in large public park if you are alone or with your family group. Makes no sense. It is easy to enforce how many number of people you are going to allow in a park or on a beach. Social distancing is easy to maintain if you open up public places for activities. The same with retail. Why not allow non-essential to start opening up by offering curbside pickup. You can also allow retail to re-open by restricting number of people that can be indoors.

11. Who is going to bear the economic costs of people who run out of money. Do you want to increase homeless rate in effort to chase a perfect criteria to reopen.


Politicians are not the best people who understand risk management in emergency situations like we are facing. Dr. Cody and county were one week too late in imposing the SIP. Now they are one month too late in gradually bringing SIP to an end.


6 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 11, 2020 at 12:33 pm

@Person

You are putting up a strawman argument.

I read entire discussion on the board. No one is advocating complete opening up.

I have heard Dr. Cody speak.

I still can't find any outrage among SCC citizens regarding the following:

1. If it was known that 1000 contact tracers are needed then why are we still weeks away from meeting that goal. With nine weeks in this should have been accomplished within four weeks. I thought this was an emergency.

2. SCC had the highest infection rate in early March, after Seattle in the country if I recall. Why do we have less testing than Sacramento, LA or neighboring counties in the bay area. Why is it easier it get tested in Hayward or Fremont than in SCC.

3. Do you think Spain and other places that are slowly opening up have lower infection rate than SCC?

4. If you are concerned about the deaths due to Covid-19 we should consider the risks and deaths due to Covid-19 in long term due to negative health stress of all kind that people are going to suffer due to depression, loss of income, and other consequences of fighting the epidemic including extending SIP more than necessary.

5. I don't know if the public officials are making right decisions and planning. I hope they are. But I would like that to be independently verified. Any magic numbers need to be verified. We should always question "why" when any information is given.

6. Why is the bay area SIP getting longer than Wuhan and Italy.

7. A trade off is part of decision making. No one can predict the future. The dire picture you paint of what will happen if SIP is lifted today won't change irrespective of when it is lifted between now and August.

Continued..


5 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 11, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Continued from prev


8. There going to be no better treatments available for at least next 3 months.

9. We are not New Zealand or Taiwan. We have to plan assuming that infections would never be non-zero till vaccine is available. You can't prevent people from other parts of the country visiting SCC. We need to pick a number that we are willing to accept as daily or weekly infection cases.

10. Opening up and ending SIP is not a binary. It is gradual, careful and commonsense. Why is picnic ban in large public park if you are alone or with your family group. Makes no sense. It is easy to enforce how many number of people you are going to allow in a park or on a beach. Social distancing is easy to maintain if you open up public places for activities. The same with retail. Why not allow non-essential to start opening up by offering curbside pickup. You can also allow retail to re-open by restricting number of people that can be indoors.

11. Who is going to bear the economic costs of people who run out of money. Do you want to increase homeless rate in effort to chase a perfect criteria to reopen.


Politicians are not the best people who understand risk management in emergency situations like we are facing. Dr. Cody and county were one week too late in imposing the SIP. Now they are one month too late in gradually bringing SIP to an end.


7 people like this
Posted by Messifan
a resident of Ventura
on May 11, 2020 at 2:50 pm

We may never open up unless we encourage local politicians to push back on Sara Cody. She still does not understand the governors order. Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on May 11, 2020 at 8:12 pm

Dr. Cody continues to stonewall, dither, and deny. Now she claims she hasn't had the chance to "better understand" the Governor's Stage 2 order. Huh?

How is it that Mayors and health officials across California have somehow managed to review the order and find ways to comply, just a little bit? This includes LA County which has 5x the infection and death rates as the Bay Area.

How is it that Cody claims we don't have enough PPE and tests and contact tracers -- when she has had 10 WEEKS to plan and acquire them?

People, think about the perverse logic here. It was her responsibility to devise a plan and gear up. Instead of doing that, she chose to do lots of press conferences, Podcasts, newspaper interviews, etc. -- basically any place to trumpet her brilliant plan to flatten the curve. Now, rather than accept responsibility and evolve with new circumstances, she feigns ignorance and actually twists her own failure to act into the very reason to maintain the complete SIP order.

This is what happens when our elected leaders abdicate decision-making to narrow-minded, unelected bureaucrats who are more interested in looking smart at medical conferences than actually solving the crisis.


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