California Governor Gavin Newsom has pulled the emergency brake on reopening efforts and has pushed counties all the way back to the most-restrictive Purple Tier, including Santa Clara County.
Prior to today, Santa Clara County was in the Orange Tier but Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer and Director of Public Health, predicted that the County would be pushed back to the Red Tier this week, however, the State has skipped the Red Tier and moved Santa Clara County all the way back to square one. We’re not the only ones, 40 counties are moving into a more restrictive tier. Now 94 percent of Californians are in the Purple Tier.
New restrictions go into effect on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 12:01 a.m., according to County Counsel James R. Williams. Closures and changes include ceasing of indoor gatherings (places of worship, movie theaters, museums, aquariums, etc.), ceasing of indoor dining but outdoor dining can continue, retail must reduce capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent, gyms and fitness centers are closed for indoor operations and bars and wineries are closed. Hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors and more can continue indoors with restrictions. Professional sports can continue but without live audiences.
This changes things for some schools. Schools that are already open can continue to be open and if schools are currently phasing into in-person, they can also continue through their reopening phases. If schools have not yet reopened, they must wait until the County has been in the Red Tier (the next less restrictive tier) for two weeks before they can reopen. In the Purple Tier, elementary schools can reopen under a waiver.
Last week, Dr. Cody said the average number of new cases per day in Santa Clara County has more than doubled since early October. Over 380 new cases were reported today.
This time, for now, it seems that the County is not imposing extra restrictions on top of the State’s.
In addition to moving counties through multiple tiers, the State will start reassessing counties’ tier statuses more frequently — multiple times a week — and they will be moving counties back more frequently — on a weekly basis rather than every two weeks. The State also urges counties to put changes in place urgently rather than waiting the full 72-hour window to make changes.
These changes are necessary, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the State’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Agency, to prevent flooding the health care system. Newsom says that surge hospitals are available to come online if needed. Dr. Ghaly pointed out the spike in COVID-19 cases today, will translate to a spike in hospitalizations in two to three weeks.
Newsom said they are looking at more restrictions that may be announced later this week, including a possible curfew.
When it comes to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season, health officers really recommend only gathering with the people you live with. If you’re gathering with others, small private outdoor gatherings are allowed with no more than three households and gatherings should be no longer than two hours. Masks and physical distancing are required.
Learn more about what’s open and what’s not on the State’s website.