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