News

Santa Clara County allows for car parades in time for graduation

As other California counties move into 'Stage 2' of reopening, no timeline set for Santa Clara County to join them

Santa Clara County officials are rolling back restrictions this week to allow drive-through celebrations and car parades, opening up the possibility for graduations ceremonies and other celebrations behind the wheel.

But when exactly the county will loosen restrictions more broadly under the current shelter in place order remains uncertain, with no timeline set for entering "Phase 2" of the transition back to normalcy.

When asked during a virtual town hall meeting on Sunday, Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said the county was looking into the possibility of expanding the types of travel permitted under the county's shelter order, giving more flexibility for schools to conduct drive-through graduation ceremonies and other motorcade-type celebrations.

Williams stressed that, despite recent news coverage, Santa Clara's language in the public health order hasn't changed and has been consistent with other counties' in the region in that it bans all travel deemed "nonessential." Those rules have since been interpreted to include drive-through celebrations, which has been a testy subject in recent weeks.

Williams acknowledged that these types of activities carry a lower level of risk due to their inherent social distancing.

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On Monday, May 18, less than 24 hours after the town hall meeting, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced new revisions to its shelter in place order allowing for car parades, but with some restrictions. The order, which takes effect on Friday, May 22, allows for participation in car parades so long as all the occupants in the vehicle are from the same household. Cars are prohibited from stopping during the parade or gathering at a "fixed location," according to the county order, and bicycles and motorcycles are not allowed to join in.

The May 22 update is peppered with similar changes that, while modestly scaling back the rules, still preserve the broad requirements to stay at home and the closure of nonessential businesses. Retail stores can reopen starting Friday, but can only provide curbside pickup or deliveries. Museums, historical sites and public gardens are allowed to open, but visitors are restricted to outdoor areas only.

Throughout the town hall meeting, hosted by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, residents questioned county leaders about the road to recovery and the opaque nature of when the region will follow in the footsteps of other California counties in scaling back prohibitions.

Newly reported cases of the new coronavirus show that the spread of the virus has flattened significantly in recent weeks, and hospitals are reporting no trouble accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and having plenty of available beds in the event of a surge in patients.

Santa Clara Public Health Officer Sara Cody said the county is taking a cautious approach, repeatedly calling it "inching forward," starting with ending prohibitions on construction, outdoor recreation and outdoor activity. Once it's clear that the loosened restrictions don't cause a resurgence in cases, the county can take further steps to open more businesses and sectors, she said.

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But when asked directly when those steps will be taken, and whether she could say definitively that the shelter in place orders will be extended past May, Cody was reluctant to provide details, citing a need to stay consistent with other county health officers.

"Around the Bay Area we have been doing everything we can to work as a region, and one of the reasons to sort of keep our cards close is to enable time to be coordinated and communicate together," Cody said.

The pace in which counties can reopen businesses and services is largely dictated by the state of California, which has its own mandatory shelter order that supersedes individual county agencies when the state's rules are stricter. Counties can adopt more restrictions but cannot reopen faster than the state, which serves as a baseline.

While state leaders have announced that counties are permitted to ease certain restrictions under what it calls Stage 2 reopening, certain facilities -- such as schools, offices, restaurants and shopping malls -- must remain shut down.

Cody said the public needs to have confidence in knowing that, once these facilities are opened up again, they can go out while staying safe and protected from the virus.

"Our goal is to make sure that our community not only feels safe but is safe, so that when a sector does open people can go and access goods and services with all the social distancing protections in place and know that it's safe," she said.

Santa Clara County reported 2,470 cases and on Monday, up from 2,441 cases on Sunday, with no additional deaths, for a total of 135.

Related article:

New San Mateo County order to allow curbside retail pickup, dog grooming

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 allows for car parades in time for graduation

As other California counties move into 'Stage 2' of reopening, no timeline set for Santa Clara County to join them

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Sat, May 16, 2020, 10:12 am
Updated: Tue, May 19, 2020, 1:37 pm

Santa Clara County officials are rolling back restrictions this week to allow drive-through celebrations and car parades, opening up the possibility for graduations ceremonies and other celebrations behind the wheel.

But when exactly the county will loosen restrictions more broadly under the current shelter in place order remains uncertain, with no timeline set for entering "Phase 2" of the transition back to normalcy.

When asked during a virtual town hall meeting on Sunday, Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said the county was looking into the possibility of expanding the types of travel permitted under the county's shelter order, giving more flexibility for schools to conduct drive-through graduation ceremonies and other motorcade-type celebrations.

Williams stressed that, despite recent news coverage, Santa Clara's language in the public health order hasn't changed and has been consistent with other counties' in the region in that it bans all travel deemed "nonessential." Those rules have since been interpreted to include drive-through celebrations, which has been a testy subject in recent weeks.

Williams acknowledged that these types of activities carry a lower level of risk due to their inherent social distancing.

On Monday, May 18, less than 24 hours after the town hall meeting, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced new revisions to its shelter in place order allowing for car parades, but with some restrictions. The order, which takes effect on Friday, May 22, allows for participation in car parades so long as all the occupants in the vehicle are from the same household. Cars are prohibited from stopping during the parade or gathering at a "fixed location," according to the county order, and bicycles and motorcycles are not allowed to join in.

The May 22 update is peppered with similar changes that, while modestly scaling back the rules, still preserve the broad requirements to stay at home and the closure of nonessential businesses. Retail stores can reopen starting Friday, but can only provide curbside pickup or deliveries. Museums, historical sites and public gardens are allowed to open, but visitors are restricted to outdoor areas only.

Throughout the town hall meeting, hosted by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, residents questioned county leaders about the road to recovery and the opaque nature of when the region will follow in the footsteps of other California counties in scaling back prohibitions.

Newly reported cases of the new coronavirus show that the spread of the virus has flattened significantly in recent weeks, and hospitals are reporting no trouble accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and having plenty of available beds in the event of a surge in patients.

Santa Clara Public Health Officer Sara Cody said the county is taking a cautious approach, repeatedly calling it "inching forward," starting with ending prohibitions on construction, outdoor recreation and outdoor activity. Once it's clear that the loosened restrictions don't cause a resurgence in cases, the county can take further steps to open more businesses and sectors, she said.

But when asked directly when those steps will be taken, and whether she could say definitively that the shelter in place orders will be extended past May, Cody was reluctant to provide details, citing a need to stay consistent with other county health officers.

"Around the Bay Area we have been doing everything we can to work as a region, and one of the reasons to sort of keep our cards close is to enable time to be coordinated and communicate together," Cody said.

The pace in which counties can reopen businesses and services is largely dictated by the state of California, which has its own mandatory shelter order that supersedes individual county agencies when the state's rules are stricter. Counties can adopt more restrictions but cannot reopen faster than the state, which serves as a baseline.

While state leaders have announced that counties are permitted to ease certain restrictions under what it calls Stage 2 reopening, certain facilities -- such as schools, offices, restaurants and shopping malls -- must remain shut down.

Cody said the public needs to have confidence in knowing that, once these facilities are opened up again, they can go out while staying safe and protected from the virus.

"Our goal is to make sure that our community not only feels safe but is safe, so that when a sector does open people can go and access goods and services with all the social distancing protections in place and know that it's safe," she said.

Santa Clara County reported 2,470 cases and on Monday, up from 2,441 cases on Sunday, with no additional deaths, for a total of 135.

Related article:

New San Mateo County order to allow curbside retail pickup, dog grooming

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

Rambutan
Ventura
on May 16, 2020 at 10:38 am
Rambutan, Ventura
on May 16, 2020 at 10:38 am
10 people like this

Loved seeing the request asking if the dog groomer would take a woman's husband for a trim.


Willow Res
Menlo Park
on May 16, 2020 at 10:51 am
Willow Res, Menlo Park
on May 16, 2020 at 10:51 am
Like this comment

Pleased to read 'pet grooming' can re-open. Low on the list of essential services, it's a plus for my pooch who has endured home hose bathing, a GI Joe trim & NO much needed nail clipping. ~Willow


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm
32 people like this

In the meantime, Santa Clara County will not reopen or relax restrictions with no firm date for doing so. The SIP order ends on May 31 but since there are no plans to reopen, it could be extended.

SCC was the first to close and has no definitive plans to reopen, the only county in the Bay Area.

On the other hand, all of us will be driving across the county border to spend our tax dollars where the businesses are open.


Health Comrade
Professorville
on May 16, 2020 at 12:13 pm
Health Comrade, Professorville
on May 16, 2020 at 12:13 pm
22 people like this

2020: the year when many of us were told to wear masks, and also when many of our state leaders and unelected county health directors dropped theirs.

Don’t relinquish your civil liberties.


TimR
Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm
TimR, Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


Messifan
Ventura
on May 16, 2020 at 6:08 pm
Messifan, Ventura
on May 16, 2020 at 6:08 pm
17 people like this

It appears that we had 632 tests and 0(!!!) positive tests yesterday (Web Link). Beyond absurd no plans to loosen.


Give them an Inch
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 8:26 pm
Give them an Inch, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 8:26 pm
9 people like this

Is the Menlo Park mayor joking? Despite a county health order to wear a mask when outside, during my trip to Menlo today and on other days I consistently encountered many people and whole families and groups of people of all ages WITHOUT a mask in sight!

This is the case in other cities in San Mateo County and also in Santa Clara County cities. I’ve seen workers in banks and grocery stores in our fair city without masks. I thought our order here was everyone needs one when entering the building.

A church group in another city I saw on Facebook was gathering with no one wearing a mask and there was zero social distancing. The pastor was laying hands on the clergy!

Do these people think the ordinances are made for everyone else but them?

Dr. Cody is right to be extremely cautious. Government officials are bowing to public pressure and the result is people think they no longer need to pay attention to precautions.

I sure hope the health officials are “wrong” for all of our sakes.


new guy
Menlo Park
on May 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm
new guy, Menlo Park
on May 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm
37 people like this

So, I can still go into Target, Costco and shop for socks, clothes, TVs, Apple products, but cannot do that in shoe stores, Best Buy, or Apple stores because of Science.


Wake up!
Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 10:40 am
Wake up!, Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 10:40 am
2 people like this

[Post removed; repetitive to other posts by same commentator.]


RE Agent
Woodside
on May 17, 2020 at 10:54 am
RE Agent, Woodside
on May 17, 2020 at 10:54 am
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


Cultists On The Loose Again
Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 11:36 am
Cultists On The Loose Again, Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 11:36 am
Like this comment

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Wake up!
Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 12:01 pm
Wake up!, Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 12:01 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


Cultists On The Loose Again
Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 12:14 pm
Cultists On The Loose Again, Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 12:14 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Wake up!
Mountain View

on May 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Name hidden, Mountain View

on May 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2020 at 3:48 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2020 at 3:48 pm
15 people like this

@Wake Up

I am so sorry. I was not able to read your post but I am sure you had something worthwhile reading otherwise it would not have been hidden from the vast majority.


Rich
Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 4:58 pm
Rich, Mountain View
on May 17, 2020 at 4:58 pm
35 people like this

Santa Clara has gone way too far here. The original goals of the SIP were to lower the curve, and to prevent hospital overwhelm. It's clear by the county's own website Web Link that the situation cannot be improved any further. Fewer than 20 cases per day on average for multiple weeks now. The case positivity rate is less than 2% over last several weeks. There's a very large amount of hospital capacity (Stanford Hospital has had to lay off hundreds of people). They just keep pushing the goalpost further and further until we "feel safe and are safe" according to Cody. This has no definition at all. I applaud her early SIP orders, which kept this under control here, but it's well past time to begin easing the restrictions.


Member name wish
another community
on May 17, 2020 at 5:51 pm
Member name wish, another community
on May 17, 2020 at 5:51 pm
13 people like this

I am heartened that Dr. Cody thinks she is coordinating with other health departments and that she is "considering" letting people gather in their cars. Is she unaware that all of the other Bay Area counties are moving towards Phase 2? That everyone in Santa Clara County will be driving to other counties no matter what she orders because she is infantilizing the citizens of SCC by not giving appropriate information and acting with transparency? So far the Board of Supervisors has ignored their constituents and even rewarded Dr. Cody with a 25% raise as our county goes deeper into recession and furloughs in the government have begun.


In the know
Los Altos Hills
on May 18, 2020 at 12:38 am
In the know, Los Altos Hills
on May 18, 2020 at 12:38 am
5 people like this

Through a very, very reputable source within the states government I was told Santa Clara county will go into phase 2 May 25 if new cases continue to trend the way they have been. So hang in there people, we are getting there and thanks to everyone for doing their part. It made a difference.


Cody is Wrong
Community Center
on May 18, 2020 at 12:45 am
Cody is Wrong, Community Center
on May 18, 2020 at 12:45 am
8 people like this

Cody was behind the curve in ordering schools to close and leaving our kids in harms’ way. Recall Menlo and others closed schools first. She is now taking an overly conservative approach to reopening to make people forget her prior recklessness.


Dan
Midtown
on May 18, 2020 at 9:12 am
Dan, Midtown
on May 18, 2020 at 9:12 am
15 people like this

Wow. Allowing "car parades" ... that is really going to help fend off the self-imposed economic disaster.


MVResident
Mountain View
on May 18, 2020 at 10:14 am
MVResident, Mountain View
on May 18, 2020 at 10:14 am
13 people like this

The SCC decision makers have demonstrated a complete inability to understand complex issues and, sadly, appear to be entirely unaccountable. The medical/health situation here has been stabilized for weeks, our hospitals are empty, and the curve is flat. The real problem is the growing lines at food banks, residents going hungry because they can’t afford food, and deferred medical procedures and evaluations that will lead to a spike in other health areas. Yet our decision makers are myopic and use only one measuring stick. And let’s not get started on how Cody and others could have been working on the “go-forward” plan and protecting nursing home residents. rather than taking a victory lap on national media for the initial SIP. When faced with difficult or complex questions, Cody leave us with only her now-perfected deer-in-the-headlights look.

These challenges is exacerbated by our inexperienced County Counsel and other “Deputy County Executives,” most of whom have no real experience solving any problems. Williams, for example, appears to have fewer than 6 years actually practicing law. Perhaps this why the SIP order is so poorly written and they now need to spend hours discussing whether, and how, to allow drive-through graduations and birthdays. As other counties move forward, SCC won’t be able to enforce their “rules” because there is no rational basis for the continued restrictions.

I sure hope the poster above is right about the county loosening up on May 25th. It’ll be 3-4 weeks later than necessary, but at least that’s something. Could it be that Cody is just trying to hold firm through the long weekend (but doesn’t want to admit as much)?


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2020 at 10:26 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2020 at 10:26 am
14 people like this

Pathetic. No response. No answers to pertinent questions. No dates. Not a suggestion that anything will change. And saying that it is in line with out counties is wrong. Whose eyes are they pulling the wool over?

When will we be allowed to congregate outside in groups of up to 10 people, all socially distanced, all wearing masks? When will we be able to go and get haircuts for our dogs even if we can't get a haircut for ourselves? When can small offices get back to work, with social distancing and no break room facilities when only 6 people work in the office? When will any of the rules be relaxed.

If we don't know the answers to those questions, then there are other questions that should be answered?

How many patients are dying of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, but also have Covid and are being classed as Covid deaths? How many patients are actually dying of Covid and were previously healthy? How many patients in ICU units and how long does the average ICU patient remain in ICU? How many patient in ICUs are on ventilators? How long is the average hospital stay of someone in hospital with Covid systems? What percentage of hospitalized Covid cases are returning home and how long before they are free of symptoms?

Why can't we be given some real answers to real questions?


Enviornmentalist
Stanford
on May 18, 2020 at 10:29 am
Enviornmentalist, Stanford
on May 18, 2020 at 10:29 am
Like this comment

The pandemic has created an opportunity for humans to develop insight into our roles in climate change that created the pandemic.

Saddens me that car parades will be encouraged.

We do not need more fossil fuel burning. Instead notice how much living places have been improved by less traffic and cleaner air from fewer cars on road.

Kudos to the corporations enabling their workers to continue to work from you.

New rituals to honor special transitions can evolve that do not damage our communal home.


Messifan
Ventura
on May 18, 2020 at 10:46 am
Messifan, Ventura
on May 18, 2020 at 10:46 am
16 people like this

I think @member has it just right. There is no coordination, the other counties are doing one thing and SCC is doing another. I worry this will continue during every step in the reopening.

I was in the town hall. Things that seemed important:
1. Dr. Cody implied that we would move to stage 2 before May 31. It was quick and I could have misunderstood.
2. Dr. Cody defended not making information available to the public using a word salad. Supervisor Simitian jumped in to try to defend her saying "do you mean we don't want to say anything until we know what we are talking about." Dr. Cody agreed. I fumed. It is inexcusable how little has been shared.
3. A question was asked as to why public health officers are making decisions rather than politicians. Supervisor Simitian outsourced the question to the legal counsel who gave the legal answer. But that is not the right answer. Politicians who are accountable to the people should be discussing pros and cons, talking to economists about tradeoffs, pushing back on Dr. Cody, etc. Supervisor Simitian and other members of the council are hiding behind the law. I hope people are noticing.


Messifan
Ventura
on May 18, 2020 at 10:53 am
Messifan, Ventura
on May 18, 2020 at 10:53 am
Like this comment

Funny, just after comment saw headline that SCC is allowing curbside retail. One point for honesty of Dr. Cody and coordination.


resident
Downtown North
on May 18, 2020 at 10:58 am
resident, Downtown North
on May 18, 2020 at 10:58 am
Like this comment

The Mercury-News says that Santa Clara County is moving to Stage 2 today: Web Link


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