Santa Clara County Officials Remind Public to Stay at Home During COVID-19 Update

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County continues to rise, local officials sent a message to the public on Friday afternoon: stay the course and stay away from anyone you don’t live with.

As of today, 591 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 20 have died since the first reported case on Jan. 31. But at a Friday afternoon press conference, Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith reiterated that those numbers don’t paint the full picture.

“The real message I want to give everyone is stay inside, avoid contact with other people except your family and make sure you obey the social distancing rules when you have to go out to go to the grocery store,” he said.

Smith also revealed that county officials now believe that the highly contagious lung-attacking virus has been circulating throughout Silicon Valley since at least December.

The county exec criticized the federal government’s slow reaction to the problem, which operated under the assumption that only people who went to China or knew someone who had needed testing. And given the ongoing flu season and the fact that most people have mild symptoms, he said they “didn’t get a really great picture of how present the disease was or the virus was in [the] community.”

Smith said he does expect the number of cases to rise as testing becomes more readily available. Meanwhile, Santa Clara County is contracting with Stanford Health Care to create projections about how the outbreak will spread in the coming weeks and months.

Whatever the modeling suggests, however, it won’t change the fact that the single best way to fight this pandemic is to stay at home, Smith stressed. “We would not change the treatment one iota,” he remarked. “The treatment is still social distancing.”

County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody was absent from Friday’s press conference due to a previously scheduled conference call her counterparts throughout the Bay Area. Smith said they were talking about the next phase of dealing with the virus, whether they should extend the stay-home order and if the conditions of the mandate should change.

As it currently stands, residents are directed to stay home unless they need to venture out for essential errands to the grocery store or the pharmacy. However, in an effort to keep spirits high, county officials have encouraged residents to get outdoors and exercise, as long as they stay six feet apart from anyone who doesn’t live in their household.

“We want people to take advantage of the park system so long as they are willing and able to do so,” county Supervisor Dave Cortese said.

Other parts of the state have closed off parks, trails and beaches since residents were flocking to them in large numbers. In San Jose, Alum Rock Park and the steps on Communications Hill have both been closed to the public due to overcrowding.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith also gave an update as to the status of her force. Over the last week, six deputies have tested positive for COVID-19. Only one had reportedly been hospitalized and they have since been release.

Smith said her department has also set up decontamination facilities.

“If a member of public safety believes they have come in contact with someone with the virus, we have a trailer for showers,” she said. “We’ll start distributing additional hand sanitizer beginning next week.”

We must stay the self-isolation course as we approach week two of County of Santa Clara, California ‘s stay-at-home/social distancing mandate to stop the spread of coronavirus. Today Dr. Jeff Smith, the county’s chief executive officer & a physician; Sheriff Laurie Smith & Supervisor Dave Cortese & I talked about how self isolation is the key to stopping the spread of the virus. We will continue enforcing the mandate.

Posted by Cindy Chavez on Friday, March 27, 2020

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

4 Comments

  1. [Dr. Jeff Smith] “The county exec criticized the federal government’s slow reaction to the problem…”

    Why of course. Deflecting blame is part of the “not me” deniability playbook. And where is the County’s updated 2019 OES plan or other relevant guides?

    Let’s not forget that there’s no single source of what is an “essential business” or for that matter what constitutes a crowd: 100, 50, 35, 10, other? SJPD lacks definitive criteria and imagine that SCCSO does as well.

    Laurie Smith’s comments are laughable and conveniently dodges the threat to jailed inmates, corrections staff, and the public.

  2. Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith covers his ass:

    “The county exec criticized the federal government’s slow reaction to the problem, which operated under the assumption that only people who went to China or knew someone who had needed testing.”

    These people cannot take responsibility for ANYTHING.

    The list of stupid progressive ideas being discredited by coronavirus grows every day:

    1. Reusable shopping bags. Santa Clara County STILL hasn’t banned them, but Safeway is telling customers not to bring thin into their stores.

    2. Mass transit. Valley Transportation Authority is shut downs because cramming the “masses” into tin boxes defeats “social distancing” and results in pandemics.

    3. Urban micro-squalor villages for “free range homeless” voters. (Haven’t figured that out yet? The ONLY purpose for “the homeless”.) Aimless, unhygienic, unsanitary, random mobile disease vectors.

    4. “High density housing”. Said one San Jose City Council candidate: “The future of housing in San Jose is higher and denser”. NOPE!

    5. Open borders: Trump wanted to close the southern border. Trump wanted to close down immigration form terrorist countries. Trump wanted to close down flights from China BEFORE anyone else. OPEN BORDERS is a dumb idea in a world of global pandemics.

    HAS COUNTY EXECUTIVE JEFF SMITH FIGURED THIS OUT YET? Or is he too busy blaming Trump for Gavin Newsom’s and the California Legislatures poor planning and lack of preparedness?

  3. Can we say that Santa Clara county does’t have enough test to check the Covid-19. We don’t know who is infected or not. The best way to stay home.

    • > Can we say that Santa Clara county does’t have enough test to check the Covid-19.

      The number of tests is what it is.

      The test is VERY sophisticated and probably didn’t exist five or ten years ago.

      There are a finite numbers of machines and technicians to do the test, and spending TRILLIONS of dollars of future generation’s money on tests isn’t going to make much difference in the short term.

      It takes nine months for a woman to have a baby. It still takes nine months if you offer her a billion dollars.

      Nine woman can’t have a baby in one month.

      Things take time.

      Donald Trump is not the problem. Nancy Pelosi can bash Trump all she wants, but she can’t make a test happen any faster.

      Yes. We CAN say that Santa Clara County doesn’t have enough tests to check Covid-19. Everybody knows that.

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