Local health officials are just days away from announcing the next phase of reopening.
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody on Monday announced that the “path forward is to create a framework that people can live with for a long time.”
That framework, she explained, will be a departure from the sector-specific plan that’s been used over the last few months.
“We want people to have clarity and we want people to have as much certainty as possible about the path ahead,” she said. “The framework will be risk-based and very clear about what’s risky and what’s not and why so that everyone can look at it together and understand both the logic behind it as well as what actions they can or can’t take.”
Over the last few months, 4,265 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 156 people have died of complications from the virus.
As cases trended downward in April and May, county officials started to allow some businesses to reopen—with certain precautions.
On May 4, construction and outdoor activities resumed. A few weeks later, on May 22, curbside retail was allowed to proceed. And on June 5, stores were finally able to open their doors to customers.
Since then, however, the confirmed-case count has steadily ticked upward.
Dr. Cody said that although the increase was expected, it’s no less concerning—especially snce the county has seen daily upticks of more than 100 cases several times last week.
Between May 25 and this past weekend, 160 workplaces in the county reported at least one new case of COVID-19, with 35 percent of diagnoses stemming from construction sites. Most workplace outbreaks—defined as three or more cases at a single location—have also occurred at construction sites.
The largest outbreaks, however, have been traced to food processing plants.
Between May 1 and this past Saturday, Dr. Cody said that outbreaks have only made up 5 percent of new cases. Some 45 percent have come from a known source and 50 percent are presumed to be community transmission, in which contact tracers have been unable to determine where it came from.
As health officials prepare to loosen restrictions once again, San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis asked Dr. Cody and other county officials be more forthcoming about what triggers them to make changes.
“It would be very helpful if you could be more transparent about which indicators you’re monitoring and what benchmarks you’re looking at to take us back to some kind of tightening of restrictions or sheltering-in-place,” she said. “Because I think people really need that kind of certainty.”
Two councilwomen who represent East San Jose also expressed frustrations with low testing numbers at the Police Athletic League Stadium.
“I’ve made mention almost every week there are some barriers that are glaringly obvious for me: the hours of operation, the difficulties in complexities of getting registered and not having on-site registration is a huge issue,” D5 rep Magdalena Carrasco said. “To this day I’m unable to register myself online so there’s some sort of a glitch in the system.”
Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, who runs testing for the county, said that he’s noticed that sites run by Verily at the PAL Stadium and the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds have struggled to meet their full testing capacity. Pop-up sites, however, such as the one that opened at the SAP Center last week, have been very successful.
To increase testing in East San Jose, Councilwoman Maya Esparza added that the city and the county need to improve communications by ensuring that it’s adequately multilingual and culturally appropriate.
“A lot of the terms that are used around tracing are kind of scary,” she said, “and I’ve heard from some of my residents that they’re afraid.”