The Silicon Valley Voice

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Steep Spike in COVID-19 Cases in Santa Clara County Forces Closures Effective Tuesday

Closing indoor dining and more restrictions are coming on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 12:01 a.m. due to a steep spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Additionally, Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara, predicts that the State will push the County back from the Orange Tier to the more restrictive Red Tier, which forces even more closures on the County.

“We do not take these actions lightly,” said Dr. Cody, calling the news sobering but necessary to prevent COVID-19 spread.

In collaboration with other Bay Area cities, Dr. Cody announced that they will be closing indoor dining effective Tuesday because it is a risky activity where you can’t wear a mask.

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Because the County is probably going to move into the Red Tier on Tuesday, County Counsel James R. Williams said the County is trying to get ahead of the announcement and have Tuesday be the day that Red Tier restrictions go into place instead of losing precious time by allowing the usual 72 hours grace period following the announcement.

Red Tier restrictions include but are not limited to a drop in gym capacity to 10 percent, closing bowling alleys and indoor playgrounds, and capping capacity for malls and retail at 50 percent. Cardrooms will only be able to operate outdoors. Capacity limits at museums and aquariums will also have to go down to 25 percent capacity. Places of worship will also have to lower indoor capacity.

Moving back to the Red Tier doesn’t necessarily change much for schools, many are already open or are planning to reopen in January. Once a county is in the Red Tier, school districts have to wait two weeks to reopen schools for in-person instruction. Or, even if Santa Clara County moves back to the Purple Tier, districts can apply for a waiver to bring elementary students back to campus.

The average number of new cases per day in Santa Clara County has more than doubled since early October. The last steep spike in the County was in July and the County slowly recovered, but Dr. Cody said that was during the summer when being outdoors was much easier.

“Unless the current surge is quickly brought under control, the County expects to be moved to the Purple Tier in the next few weeks,” said the County in a press release.

The State will officially announce new Tier assignments at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 17. These tiers are part of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy which allows counties to move through a reopening tier based on a county’s risk level.

The State’s reopening plan considers the county’s case rate and its test positivity rate. Each tier has its own criteria. Counties can also get a “credit” if it is testing a lot.

Williams said more work will be done over the weekend to update all the guidelines. Learn more at the County Health Department’s website.

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