News

Santa Clara County revises order to reopen indoor activities, with caveats

County could be approved for state's more liberal 'orange tier' by Oct. 13

Two people finish their meal at Rumblefish in Mountain View on March 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Indoor dining and indoor gatherings, such as worship services, could resume as soon as Oct. 14 with state approval, Santa Clara County leaders said Monday at a press conference.

That's when the county could move into the "orange tier," also known as Tier 3 under the state's color-coded reopening system, which allows restaurants to host customers for indoor meals and places of worship to welcome congregants. But there would be limitations, county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Monday afternoon as she announced a Revised Risk Reduction Order.

Under the order, all businesses could operate as long as they conform to the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

However, the county would keep in place "red tier" (or Tier 2) requirements that restrict indoor dining and gatherings to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people would be allowed under the revised order. The rules for gatherings, including in theaters, can be found in the health officer's revised mandatory directive for gatherings. New rules for indoor and outdoor dining will be forthcoming in a mandatory directive.

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All businesses must continue to require non-essential workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Employees can only go into the workplace for tasks they can’t complete remotely.

All businesses must complete and submit a social distancing protocol for each of their facilities. Previous social distancing protocols must be updated within 14 days of the revised order's start using a new template the county will soon make available.

Businesses must also report confirmed COVID-19 cases to the Public Health Department within four hours and ensure their workers alert them if they test positive.

Santa Clara County is currently in the state's red tier. If a downward count of COVID-19 cases continues, the state could assign the county to the less restrictive orange tier as early as Oct. 13. The county order would go into effect the next day, County Counsel James Williams said.

After Cody issued the original March stay-at-home order, the county averaged 45 new cases a day between April and June 15. When some of the restrictions were lifted to allow retail businesses to reopen, positive COVID-19 cases skyrocketed to a high of 269 per day by July 17, a six-fold spike in one month.

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After reversing some of the reopening allowances this summer, the seven-day average fell of new cases per day to 102 cases as of Monday, a good trajectory, but one Cody still wants to see lowered.

"It took two-and-a-half months to bring it down," she noted. "We can get into trouble very fast, but it takes a long time to get out of (it)."

Cody said it's imperative that everyone continue to practice precautions to keep the number of infections down.

"The fact that you are able to do something doesn't mean that you should. The public's commitment, both businesses and our residents, to wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing and testing is what will help us move forward to the next tier in the state's COVID-19 blueprint," she said.

If infections rise again, the county could be pushed backward into more restrictions, Cody noted.

"This is why we urge all residents to be cautious, stay home when possible, minimize interaction with anyone outside their household ... and move activities outdoors when possible," Cody said in a statement.

People older than age 50 and those with serious underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Indoor dining and indoor gatherings are particularly high-risk activities, according to the county.

Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, encouraged people to continue to adhere to the health officer's guidelines for safety.

She was asked about recent comments made by President Donald Trump that played down the threat of the virus in spite of his own positive diagnosis and treatment for what have been described by multiple news outlets as serious symptoms.

She noted that not every American will receive the same treatment and care as the president.

"It is incredibly irresponsible to tell people that a disease that is deadly is nothing to care about," she said.

Supervisor Dave Cortese noted during the press conference that even a few deaths should be a cause for serious concern.

From Sept. 25 through last Friday, 20 people in the county died of COVID-19, he said.

"If 20 people died in a year from anything in a prior year, all of you would be asking us: 'What happened?'" he said.

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Santa Clara County revises order to reopen indoor activities, with caveats

County could be approved for state's more liberal 'orange tier' by Oct. 13

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 5:23 pm

Indoor dining and indoor gatherings, such as worship services, could resume as soon as Oct. 14 with state approval, Santa Clara County leaders said Monday at a press conference.

That's when the county could move into the "orange tier," also known as Tier 3 under the state's color-coded reopening system, which allows restaurants to host customers for indoor meals and places of worship to welcome congregants. But there would be limitations, county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Monday afternoon as she announced a Revised Risk Reduction Order.

Under the order, all businesses could operate as long as they conform to the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

However, the county would keep in place "red tier" (or Tier 2) requirements that restrict indoor dining and gatherings to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people would be allowed under the revised order. The rules for gatherings, including in theaters, can be found in the health officer's revised mandatory directive for gatherings. New rules for indoor and outdoor dining will be forthcoming in a mandatory directive.

All businesses must continue to require non-essential workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Employees can only go into the workplace for tasks they can’t complete remotely.

All businesses must complete and submit a social distancing protocol for each of their facilities. Previous social distancing protocols must be updated within 14 days of the revised order's start using a new template the county will soon make available.

Businesses must also report confirmed COVID-19 cases to the Public Health Department within four hours and ensure their workers alert them if they test positive.

Santa Clara County is currently in the state's red tier. If a downward count of COVID-19 cases continues, the state could assign the county to the less restrictive orange tier as early as Oct. 13. The county order would go into effect the next day, County Counsel James Williams said.

After Cody issued the original March stay-at-home order, the county averaged 45 new cases a day between April and June 15. When some of the restrictions were lifted to allow retail businesses to reopen, positive COVID-19 cases skyrocketed to a high of 269 per day by July 17, a six-fold spike in one month.

After reversing some of the reopening allowances this summer, the seven-day average fell of new cases per day to 102 cases as of Monday, a good trajectory, but one Cody still wants to see lowered.

"It took two-and-a-half months to bring it down," she noted. "We can get into trouble very fast, but it takes a long time to get out of (it)."

Cody said it's imperative that everyone continue to practice precautions to keep the number of infections down.

"The fact that you are able to do something doesn't mean that you should. The public's commitment, both businesses and our residents, to wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing and testing is what will help us move forward to the next tier in the state's COVID-19 blueprint," she said.

If infections rise again, the county could be pushed backward into more restrictions, Cody noted.

"This is why we urge all residents to be cautious, stay home when possible, minimize interaction with anyone outside their household ... and move activities outdoors when possible," Cody said in a statement.

People older than age 50 and those with serious underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Indoor dining and indoor gatherings are particularly high-risk activities, according to the county.

Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, encouraged people to continue to adhere to the health officer's guidelines for safety.

She was asked about recent comments made by President Donald Trump that played down the threat of the virus in spite of his own positive diagnosis and treatment for what have been described by multiple news outlets as serious symptoms.

She noted that not every American will receive the same treatment and care as the president.

"It is incredibly irresponsible to tell people that a disease that is deadly is nothing to care about," she said.

Supervisor Dave Cortese noted during the press conference that even a few deaths should be a cause for serious concern.

From Sept. 25 through last Friday, 20 people in the county died of COVID-19, he said.

"If 20 people died in a year from anything in a prior year, all of you would be asking us: 'What happened?'" he said.

Comments

Jane
Registered user
Ventura
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:22 am
Jane, Ventura
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:22 am
44 people like this

You can put the parking brake on a car pointing down hill for as long as you want but as soon as you let up it will start rolling downhill again. Similarly, we need to give up this fantasy that the virus can somehow be stopped. As soon as people start living a little bit normally the number of cases per week is going to increase again and unelected health officials are going to be allowed to unilaterally shut everything down again after a week or two.

This mad cycle of economic and psychological devastation will never end unless some limits are put on "emergency powers." Right now they are infinite and indefinite with no say from the electorate, many of whom are far better educated than the unelected health officials wielding those powers.

We need to start living with the virus, not for it. We have no choice. People who are vulnerable should protect themselves and everyone else needs to make choices about what activities they choose to engage in.


Chris
Registered user
University South
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:42 am
Chris, University South
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:42 am
25 people like this

Jane,

Asian countries have done it. Why do you think Americans lack the discipline to control COVID?


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:24 am
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:24 am
35 people like this

Jane, it's true that many people in our area are highly educated. However, I don't believe that means that many of us are more educated about the coronavirus and infection control than specialists like Dr. Sarah Cody and her colleagues. I'm well aware of the disruptions to life and the economy caused by these restrictions, but I'm very thankful that Dr. Cody and her colleagues care so much about our health (they, too, are fully aware of the disruptions to our previous lives) and have helped to keep the infection rate in our area so low.


celiaspivack
Registered user
Los Altos
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:32 am
celiaspivack, Los Altos
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:32 am
15 people like this

When you are parked downhill, while you may have put your parking brake on, you also turn your wheels so that they will hit the curb and not roll down the hill. Those "curbs" are the restrictions that we put in place such as masks, social distance, and limits on size of gatherings. When we release the brakes, we still have our curbs to stop us from getting into trouble. The US has been out of control for too long and it is time we all exercised some discipline so we can overcome the wide spread of the virus and return to a more normal life. That discipline includes testing, quarantines, isolation of those infected until they are clear of live virus, and contact tracing so that people can be notified when they are exposed.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm
23 people like this

“We need to start living with the virus, not for it. We have no choice. People who are vulnerable should protect themselves and everyone else needs to make choices about what activities they choose to engage in.“

What does this even mean? So I guess old people should just endlessly quarantine themselves and not see their loved ones? But also at the same time the young and healthy should risk their lives every day? Old people don’t live in some sort of vacuum. What about multi-generational households? Also, the young and healthy have died even though they are statistically less likely too. Just because YOU may have pandemic fatigue doesn’t mean “we need to live with the virus.” [Portion removed.]

Also, health officials aren’t “wielding power” and no, “educated people” do not know more than the health officials. [Portion removed.] The health officials have been thrust into an unprecedented situation and are just doing their jobs. [Portion removed.]

Things will go back to normal soon enough and therapeutics and possibly a vaccine are on the way. Finally, yes Jane you as the electorate have no say. Follow the rules and guidance put in place by our great health officials, be more respectful of them [portion removed.]


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2020 at 1:28 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 1:28 pm
25 people like this

@ Jane. Well said. Sadly, for many small and larger businesses it's too late. They've had to close down. This could have and should have been handled in a way that both public safety and economic safety precautions resulted in both the safety and well being of the public and the survival of these businesses, locally and nationally. IMO, Sarah Cody loves to wield the power. And of course, her job and income are secure.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 1:38 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 1:38 pm
19 people like this

Sarah Cody loves to wield the power. And of course, her job and income are secure.

No one is “wielding power.” Stop blaming the health officials. There is no way to find the balance. They are only doing their jobs. If they didn’t lock us down everyone would have been saying “the health officials didn’t protect us and it caused more sickness and death.” If everyone really locked down in the first place we might not have had this issue.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2020 at 2:39 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 2:39 pm
24 people like this

Actually, Sarah Cody is wielding her power. She can and has decided what businesses stay open and which must stay closed. That's about as power wielding as you can get. Her restrictions were very stringent compared to other counties and remain so today. Some of her decisions made sense in the beginning but many did not, especially now that we've lived with this for awhile and seen large numbers of people at Costco, Safeway or other "essential" retail outlets and services from the very beginning, while not being able to get your hair cut at a salon, go to a gym or a place of worship that practiced strict physical distancing, hygienic procedures and mandated masking. That's on her.

We don't really know what would have happened if everyone really locked down in the first place, because in fact most all of us did and the numbers were what they were in a strict shelter in place environment. As things opened up a bit the numbers went up and down (as were expected), and the trend we are seeing now is generally good.

We still don't have an accurate reporting of deaths caused exclusively by COVID locally or nationally. The CDC indicated recently that COVID was a secondary, not primary factor in many thousands of deaths attributed to the virus alone. That needs to be taken into consideration when determining how much longer we need to submit to some of these practices.


Lets do it together
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm
Lets do it together, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm
40 people like this

Small businesses are dying. Our economy need to go back on track. Our kids need to go back to school safely and sooner. Our lives need to go back to normal.
Let's wear masks and keep distancing. Other international countries can do it, so do we.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm
16 people like this

“Actually, Sarah Cody is wielding her power. She can and has decided what businesses stay open and which must stay closed.”

Your post is based on a false premise. Do you really think Cody, who has never really impacted our lives before, suddenly used the pandemic to “wield power.” Do you think she said, “now is my chance!” Perhaps she was very restrictive because she knows how dangerous this pandemic is and she was trying to do her job to the best of her ability. She is in a tough spot. Some people like me appreciate her erring on the side of caution, and some people like you disagree and feel she is being too restrictive. You can’t please everyone and in her position you would likely rather be safe than sorry, Also, no, the numbers didn’t go “up and down” as you stated. Once reopening happened the numbers got out of control and only went up forcing another close of indoor establishments. Also, she didn’t specifically cherry pick which businesses were essential. That was more or less done at the state level but Cody gets blamed. Cody being restrictive saved lives. Also, we do know what the numbers were and not everyone followed the rules even though it was a restrictive shelter in place.

Our county had extremely high numbers at the beginning back in March. Thanks to her we didn’t end up like Los Angeles. Please give her some credit and stop complaining.

Things loosened up a bit again in the color coded tier system and we are now in another uptick:

Web Link


“We still don't have an accurate reporting of deaths caused exclusively by COVID locally or nationally. The CDC indicated recently that COVID was a secondary, not primary factor in many thousands of deaths attributed to the virus alone.”

This is misinformation. It was a false claim.

Web Link


MP Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:15 pm
MP Resident, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:15 pm
19 people like this

To extend this car pointed downhill analogy further, if the bottom of the hill is the chance to drive onto the freeway and see the rest of the world, but there's a chance when you pull out you will get into an accident, how long do you want to stay parked on the hill and avoid traffic?


Revision to the Revisions
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:43 pm
Revision to the Revisions, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:43 pm
23 people like this

@ Jane. Agree 100%

And just try to wrap your head around this. They’re moving to Orange Tier for some things, but keeping in place some Red Tier requirements for other things? Newsflash. Then it means you’re not really moving from one tier to another! So now the state and SCC Health Dept are splitting tiers? When did straddling tiers become a 'thing'? And now "Revised Risk Reduction Orders", the revisions to the revisions? This is a riduculous bureaucratic (sh-- show) mess. Cody needs to go. Time for some common sense and responsible public policy by elected officials who have the big picture in mind, not tunnel vision epidemiologists whose only lens is theoretical number crunching and reducing risk to zero while in the process they are blind to how they are crushing communities and people's lives. Public Health Depts need to stay in their lane and advise the elected Policy Makers.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:21 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:21 pm
10 people like this

[Post removed.]


Jeremy
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:51 pm
Jeremy, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:51 pm
6 people like this

The interplay of state and county guidelines are convoluted and confusing, and I think that has led to some important information being missed in this article.

"Santa Clara County officials on Monday revised its risk reduction order that could allow indoor dining and indoor gatherings, such as worship services, to resume as soon as Oct. 14 with state approval."

Santa Clara County is currently in the state's Tier 2, which allows limited indoor dining and worship services; however, Santa Clara County still bans those activities, which it has the right to do (if state and local health orders conflict, the stricter order takes precedence). This means that the County doesn't need state approval to reopen indoor activities at Tier 2 levels; in fact, the article indicates that the County intends to reopen indoor dining and worship services at Tier 2 levels even if it's approved to move into Tier 3.

This means that the County is seeking state approval to move into Tier 3 and open up other activities allowed in that tier, but NOT indoor dining and worship services, which it could already have reopened at Tier 2 levels if it wanted to.

If I am in error, then please correct me and/or remove my comments, but that's my understanding of the situation.


Jane
Registered user
Ventura
on Oct 7, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Jane, Ventura
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 6:37 pm
7 people like this

For folks who have problems getting the point of the car-parked-on-a-hill analogy, let's try another one: Hold a beach ball underwater as long as you want, and as soon as you let go it will surge upwards. The point is that the end state will be the same and all you have to decide is how long you want to waste either parked on the hill or holding a beach ball under water.

Take a look at the Great Barrington Declaration, currently signed by over 11,000 health scientists and about 100,000 general public so far, calling for people to be allowed to live their lives while protecting the vulnerable: Web Link You can sign it too.

Web Link


Alvin
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 9, 2020 at 2:39 am
Alvin, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 2:39 am
11 people like this

"However, the county would keep in place "red tier" (or Tier 2) requirements that restrict indoor dining and gatherings to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer."

Yeah, like that's going to help drowning restaurants pay rent and utilities, meet payroll, pay property taxes, liability insurance, etc. They've already gone 7 months with practically no revenue. The Covid lockdown economic effects haven't hit fully yet, give it another year or two, and the great depression will pale in comparison.

I'm done with California. Not a day goes by that I don't think about leaving. I kind of hope the lockdowns and school closures continue indefinitely, with everything banned. Let California completely collapse with its self-inflicted disasters and failed state policies. I hope every business, locality, and public school system in California goes bankrupt. You faceless, non-human looking people I see every day now on sidewalks and inside of stores deserve it.


YP
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2020 at 6:33 pm
YP, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 6:33 pm
8 people like this

After 6 months of this anyone else thinking we are cutting our nose to spite our face... geez, 200,000 deaths in the USA (population 330 million) , predominately the elderly. Meanwhile, millions, millions unemployed and facing despair, depression, suicide , I could go on

Protect the vulnerable, the rest of us get on with our lives!!!!!


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 8:31 pm
4 people like this

North Santa Clara County = here....gets punished because of east San Jose crowding and lack of behavior compliance for Covid. Makes no sense.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm
2 people like this

@Jane
I just really find the tone of your posts so condescending. As if your “car parked on the hill“ analogy was so deep and above everyone’s head due to your superior intelligence and “education” you had to do a second, even sillier, beach ball analogy just so the “regular folks” can get it and understand your deep thinking.

I do know you are more educated than the epidemiologists though right? But you are so intelligent and all that you posted a link for “The Great Barrington Declaration“ that first disgustingly promotes the unethical “herd immunity” strategy which would kill millions and second that has been widely discredited and signed by a bunch of fake names like (Dr. Johnny Bananas!!)Here is the link:

Web Link

Key Statement:
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the herd immunity approach on Monday "simply unethical," saying it "is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it."

Just in case you need to educate yourself more here is a second article regarding how dangerous the strategy you are promoting would be.

Web Link

Key statement:
In both cases, people will end up dying. As the U.S. has around 328 million people, 60% would translate to around 197 million people getting infected. Assuming that the Covid-19 coronavirus infection fatality rate is somewhere between 0.5% and 1%, based on numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO), that would mean one to two million deaths from Covid-19. These numbers could get even higher if the herd immunity threshold were even higher than 60%. Maybe fewer would die with the focused protection approach, but its not clear how much fewer.

Please read both of those articles and really educate yourself. Please stop promoting a strategy that would kill millions. Finally, just remember Jane, next time you feel you are so educated and know better than everyone, The Voice is here and I am your intellectual superior.


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