Santa Clara County is banning all gatherings of more than 100 people and all public schools will be closed beginning Monday to limit the spread of new coronavirus, or COVID-19, county officials announced Friday.
The county has 79 confirmed cases as of Thursday night, a jump of 36 cases from the beginning of the week, Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s director of public health, announced at a news conference Friday. Of these cases, 37 people are hospitalized, and 43 cases were contracted from community transmission, not travel.
The county reported its first death on Monday.
“Based on these data and patterns of disease that we see around the world, we know that the outbreak of COVID-19 in our county will continue to accelerate and we anticipate many, many more cases in the days and weeks to come,” Cody said.
Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent, announced the closure of all schools from March 16 to April 3. District offices will be open for essential services.
Jeff Smith said the county has purchased several hotels in case anyone in the homeless population contracts coronavirus and is required to self-quarantine. Smith said no unsheltered people have been quarantined as of Friday.
Sheriff Laurie Smith said two inmates at a county jail were exposed to one visitor who tested positive for coronavirus, but they were quarantined and tested and no cases have arisen as of Friday. The Sheriff’s Office is working with courts to explore the possibility of postponing court dates and moving inmates out of jails if they are eligible for electronic monitoring, with an emphasis on keeping the public safe.
On Monday, county officials announced a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people to limit the spread of coronavirus. The new ban, of 100 people, will be in effect for a minimum of three weeks, and goes into effect 12 a.m. Saturday. The ban also includes restrictions on gatherings of 35 to 100 people, ensuring organizers have a six-foot distance between attendees, that they prevent the attendance of anyone with sickness, fever, or symptoms, and additional guidelines.
Cody said the county is following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for testing, through support from academic and commercial labs. The county did not confirm how many people have been tested, but said capacity for testing will expand in the coming weeks.
“This is a rapidly changing situation,” Cody said. “I think that right now it’s a priority that people with more severe symptoms get tested.”