The Silicon Valley Voice

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County Warns They Will Have to Bring Surge Hospital Beds Online, Hands Down More Restrictions

On Saturday, Nov. 28, Santa Clara County recorded record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — 760 new cases of COVID-19 and 239 COVID-related hospitalizations, 71 of whom are in the ICU. Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer, warns that if the County doesn’t “apply the brakes” our hospitals will run out of hospital beds and will have to start using surge beds in the third week in December.

The County says they must act now to preserve the health care system so it can continue to take care of COVID-19 patients as well as non-COVID-19 patients. They also shared concerns over staffing as Santa Clara County is not alone in seeing a steep uptick in hospitalizations and many neighboring areas are struggling with staffing at their hospitals.

James Williams, County Counsel, announced new restrictions that went into effect on Monday, Nov. 30 and extend until at least Monday, Dec. 21. These new restrictions include a mandatory quarantine after traveling and the temporary ban of close contact sports.

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The County has continued to discourage non-essential travel. Now, a new Mandatory Directive on Travel will require people to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the County from travel of more than 150 miles. Healthcare workers traveling into the county to provide care or patients traveling into the county to obtain treatment will be exempted from this requirement.

Travel hubs, like airports and train stations, are required to provide information about the mandatory quarantine to travelers upon their arrival.

All recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports, are temporarily prohibited. People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times. This includes the 49ers, said Williams.

Additionally, the County placed stricter capacity limits for indoor facilities open to the public. Stores and other facilities are limited to 10 percent capacity indoors. Grocery stores, drug stores, and pharmacies are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors. New guidelines also mean that all facilities must establish a “metering system” to ensure that the applicable capacity limits are not exceeded.

Outdoor gatherings continue to be allowed, with a maximum of 100 people. However, these aren’t private gatherings. The State limits such gatherings to First Amendment protected activities, such as religious services or protests.

And lastly, hotels and other lodging facilities will be open only for essential travel and for use to facilitate isolation or quarantine.

Outdoor dining and getting take out meals are still allowed at this point. These new restrictions join the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew from the State.

Dr. Cody said they do not take making these changes lightly and these are painful decisions.

“I am gravely concerned by the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Cody. “The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in our county has doubled in just the past couple of weeks, and we are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity very soon if current trends continue. During this critical time of surging COVID-19 transmission in our community, I urge every resident to exercise caution and to the greatest extent possible, minimize contact with anyone outside of your immediate household.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, County continued its amped-up COVID-19 Business Compliance efforts. County Enforcement Officers issued 76 Notices of Violation as of noon on Friday, Nov. 27, according to Michael Balliet, Director of Community and Business Engagement. The main offenders had failed to submit and post a revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Learn more about the County’s restrictions on its website.

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