With COVID-19 case counts rising across the state, Santa Clara County is moving back to California’s purple tier, the most restrictive.
The county recorded 388 new positive COVID-19 cases in a single day on Nov. 16 and now has a total of 28,686 cases and 445 deaths.
“This is a high number,” County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. “The important thing to know is that the case rate, how many cases per population per day are being identified and reported in our county, that curve is going straight up. That is what concerns us, how fast that number is changing.”
Cody added hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients are also reaching alarming levels. A total of 145 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, according to county data.
Effective Nov. 18, indoor dining is prohibited, but restaurants and wineries can still operate outdoors with modifications. Malls and general retail stores can remain open indoors with a capacity of 25%. Prayer services can only be held outdoors.
All indoor activities in museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters must cease, according to a county news release.
Nail salons, barbershops, esthetic care and other personal care services can continue operating indoors following stringent cleaning and physical distancing guidelines.
Gyms and fitness centers can not operate indoors under the purple tier.
Under state guidelines, schools cannot reopen for in-person classes in the purple tier, but do not have to close if they already started in-person instruction in a less restrictive reopening tier.
County Counsel James Williams said the county and state are both taking proactive measures to ensure health and safety, noting California health officials moved up their announcement of the tier shift to Monday instead of Tuesday.
Chris Funk, superintendent for East Side Union High School District, said he is not concerned with the county entering the purple tier and indoor instruction will continue in pods.
The school district started a phased reopening with limited amounts of students on campuses in October, when Santa Clara County was in the less restrictive orange tier.
“We will keep moving forward with our Phase 2 implementation.” he said.
Elementary schools can still apply for a waivers for in-person classes in Santa Clara County and reopen based on individualized approvals while in the purple tier, Williams said, noting “that’s only for elementary schools.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Nov. 16 said 41 counties are now in the state’s purple tier and case counts are surging throughout the state.
“Every age group, every demographic, racial, ethnic, in every part of the state, we are seeing case rates increase and positivity rates increase as well,” Newsom said. “(It’s) no longer concentrated in a handful of counties. We are seeing community spread broadly now throughout the state of California.”
This story will be updated.
Lorraine Gabbert and Vicente Vera contributed to this story.
Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.
— to sanjosespotlight.com