Coronavirus LIVE BLOG: July 2 to July 15
Photo courtesy of the CDC.

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1:35 p.m. July 15: Most California schools not likely to reopen in-person, state educational official says

California’s top public school official said Wednesday most schools likely would not reopen for in-person learning due to the spread of the novel coronavirus across the state.

After the state Department of Education in June released a 55-page document with guidance to reopen schools, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said California’s conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic have changed dramatically ahead of the academic year.

“If school has to open tomorrow, most of our districts would open in distance learning,” Thurmond told reporters on the call Wednesday. “And that is a decision that, I think, is a good decision if conditions don’t change.”

Still, he noted school reopening is determined at the local level. But Thurmond’s announcement came as President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to force schools to reopen in-person.

Already, Los Angeles and San Diego unified, California’s largest school districts, have decided to go to distance learning until conditions change.

In late June, Santa Clara County health and education officials released guidance to reopen schools, but local teachers unions have pushed back on the safety of in-person classes.

San Jose Unified School District is currently surveying families to determine the best learning method. However, in a letter Friday, the teachers association wrote school educators don’t feel “it is safe to return teaching in person and, in large majority, they are unwilling to do so at this time.”

Serving some of the hardest hit county zip codes in COVID-19 cases and deaths, East Side Union High School District will move to distance learning this fall. Alum Rock Union School District will have only about 10 percent of students returning in-person, with priority for homeless or foster youth, and those with disabilities, among other students with additional needs. The two East San Jose districts serve high populations of low-income and English learner students.

In June, nearly 40 school principals with the Santa Clara Unified School District were forced to attend an in-person meeting about reopening plans — and one education leader tested positive for COVID-19, sparking concerns about the safety of in-person classes. The Santa Clara school district has since released a draft plan that starts with distance learning.

Should schools start with distance learning, Thurmond said the education department would provide additional guidance, including webinars and communication with local school districts.

“We want to ensure that we provide as much information as we can in a time when it’s hard to get clarity,” he said.

10:10 a.m. July 15: Santa Clara County closes personal care services, gyms again

Hours after reopening under Santa Clara County’s new public health order, hair and nail salons, gyms, tattoo parlors and other personal care services have to close Wednesday.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for 30 counties — approximately 80 percent of Californians — on the state monitoring list for at least three consecutive days to close personal care services, fitness centers, places of worship, business offices and shopping malls.

Santa Clara County is back on that list, as of Sunday, after being taken off July 6, though it was not initially identified by Newsom. But on the California Department of Public Health’s website, the county was on the state watchlist for hospitalizations.

Despite the county’s new health order taking effect Monday, local health officials confirmed later Monday afternoon that the South Bay landed back on the watchlist and the county must close those businesses again by Wednesday, three days after being among the counties monitored by state health officials.

The new closures affect churches, fitness centers, personal care services, shopping malls, business offices in nonessential sectors, and even protests for an unspecified period of time.

Read the full San José Spotlight story here.

7:30 p.m. July 14: California unveils new testing guidance

The California Department of Public Health updated guidance Tuesday to first prioritize COVID-19 testing for symptomatic hospitalized patients, in addition to close contacts of confirmed cases and investigating outbreaks, including contact tracing.

Last updated May 1, the state’s new four-tier guidelines are for local public health officials, health care providers and laboratories testing to determine the presence of the novel coronavirus.

People with COVID-19 symptoms receive second priority, along with those who have no symptoms but are in higher risk areas, such as health care workers or people in skilled nursing facilities, homeless shelters or correctional facilities. In the third tier, the state designates testing for people in retail, manufacturing, food service, agriculture, public transit and education.

When the state’s testing turnaround time — monitored by CDPH — is less than 48 hours, the last tier falls to people who show symptoms but believe they have a risk for being infected, as well as routine testing by employers.

Previously, the state had a two-tier system. The May guidance gave priority to hospital patients; older people or those with chronic medical conditions at higher risk of serious illness; people identified for testing by public health contact investigations in high risk settings; those in congregate living facilities; symptomatic people; and essential workers, including in health care, emergency response, grocery stores and food supply. The second tier was for lower risk asymptomatic people.

As of Tuesday, employers also can’t use testing to “impermissibly discriminate against employees who have previously tested positive for COVID-19,” the update said. And because diagnostic tests can remain positive long after a person is no longer infectious, proof of a negative test should not be required prior to return to work after documented infection. Instead, employers should use symptom or protocol-based criteria to determine when a worker can return.

Local governments may modify guidance to account for local conditions or patterns of transmission, the testing update said.

3:25 p.m. July 14: City of Santa Clara cancels Art and Wine Festival

The city of Santa Clara announced Tuesday it canceled the 40th annual Art and Wine Festival scheduled in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A city news release said given “unprecedented challenges,” it could not host the festival — originally scheduled for Sept. 19-20 — in 2020. Officials cited the current Santa Clara County public health order that took effect Monday, which limits outdoor gatherings to 60 people.

City Parks and Recreation staff have also been in contact with artists, nonprofits, volunteers, sponsors and others to explore feasible alternatives, the news release said.

In a message, spokesperson Lenka Wright said the city would not reschedule the festival because there is no indication state and county public health orders would enable the event before winter. “We look forward to next year and hope conditions exist for us to provide our long-standing practice of providing the region a great festival,” Wright said.

1:15 p.m. July 14: Independence High School pop-up site closes with surge in people seeking tests

East San Jose’s Independence High School shut its pop-up testing site down Tuesday morning after approximately 800 people went in the first hour of opening, according to a Santa Clara County spokesperson.

Within an hour of opening at 10 a.m., the pop-up site — located on the hard-hit East Side — had reached its daily testing limit as staff handed out about 800 wristbands to residents seeking to get tested for COVID-19, the official told San José Spotlight. Instead, staff at the pop-up directed residents to come back at certain times, staggering testing throughout the day.

Testing at Independence will continue on its regular schedule, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.

Still, residents can get tested at two other county pop-up sites operating in San Jose at the county service center and in Gilroy at the South County Annex. There are no issues with supplies at any of the sites, the spokesperson said.

In recent weeks, the county has dramatically increased testing to meet state and Bay Area daily testing thresholds. However, officials have called on private systems to expand testing. On June 10, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order requiring large health care systems to test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, people who have been in contact with positive cases, and others at higher risk of exposure because they work in front-line jobs or have attended mass gatherings.

Last Tuesday, the Public Health Department released a data dashboard showing testing by health care system. The county health system has conducted the bulk of COVID-19 tests, especially from late June through July 1.

To find more testing locations, visit the county website or call 211.

11:07 a.m. July 14: Winchester Mystery House closes again for indoor tours

Hours after reopening self-guided mansion tours at the Winchester Mystery House on Monday, the company had to shutter indoor operations yet again due to new statewide directives.

“In accordance with the new state guidelines issued Monday, July 13, Winchester Mystery House is temporarily unable to offer Self-Guided Mansion Tours as previously announced,” a statement from Winchester said.

During his noon briefing Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom reimplemented immediate statewide restrictions to shutter indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms, while bars must shutter altogether. Newsom cited persistent COVID-19 case and hospitalization increases as rationale for the closures across California.

Regina Merrill, a spokesperson for Winchester, said the mansion did open briefly before the new state guidelines were issued.

Last Wednesday, Winchester announced it would reopen Monday for self-guided mansion tours in accordance with Santa Clara County’s latest public health order. While the mansion had been closed since March 12, Winchester reopened its outdoor gardens for self-guided tours on May 15 under state guidance allowing outdoor museums and botanical gardens to reopen.

It appears the outdoor tours of the Sarah Winchester Garden will continue. In the meantime, Winchester announced it would refund guests who purchased mansion tour tickets within the next 48 hours.

“While we are disappointed that we are temporarily unable to welcome visitors back inside the mansion as planned, our number one priority is the health & safety of our guests and employees,” the Winchester statement said. “We truly appreciate your understanding and support.”

9:17 a.m. July 14: Free pop-up testing in San Jose, Gilroy this week

Santa Clara County has three free pop-up test sites in San Jose and Gilroy open Tuesday through Saturday.

At the pop-up testing locations, residents can get tested without an appointment, health insurance or a doctor’s note, and regardless of immigration status or age, though children under 12 need parent consent, according to the county’s pop-up testing webpage. These sites are appropriate for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, officials have said.

In San Jose, the county’s service center auditorium, 1555 Berger Dr., and Independence High School’s C Commons, 617 N. Jackson Ave., will have testing starting Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Gilroy’s South County Annex, 9300 Wren Ave., which was formerly Del Buono Elementary School, has testing Tuesday through Friday 1-6 p.m. and on Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

If residents test positive at one of the pop-up sites, they should receive a phone call within three to four days, or as soon as the next day. People who test negative should receive an email, in multiple languages, within five days. If they have no email, they will receive a mailed letter within 10 days.

To find more testing locations, visit the county website or call 211.

8:45 p.m. July 13: Newsom reimplements statewide restrictions on indoor activities, Santa Clara County to close

Amid persistent increases in new cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday reimplemented statewide restrictions to shutter indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms, while bars must shutter altogether.

In addition, at least 30 counties on the state’s monitoring list must immediately close indoor operations of fitness centers, places of worship, offices for noncritical sectors, personal care services, and shopping malls, Newsom announced in his daily briefing.

The state identifies these counties — encompassing 80 percent of Californians — if they have elevated levels of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations or limited hospital capacity for at least three days.

Newsom did not identify Santa Clara on the county watchlist during his briefing, but local officials have kept much of the statewide indoor business closures shuttered anyway.

“We’re seeing an increase in the spread of the virus,” Newsom said. “That’s why it’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, until there is a vaccine and-or an effective therapy.”

The 14-day positivity rate — an important statistical indicator to determine positive results out of all tests conducted — has jumped to 7.4 percent, a 21 percent increase from the latter half of June. Moreover, the state saw more than 8,300 new cases Sunday, though new deaths have remained low. In health care systems, hospitalizations and intensive care cases from COVID-19 are modestly increasing across the state as well.

While previously on the watchlist for hospitalizations, Santa Clara was not among the monitored counties Newsom outlined in his Monday briefing. However, Santa Clara County was on the state’s online watchlist page, along with Alameda County, though the latter East Bay region would likely be added soon the governor said in response to a press question.

Just hours after reopening hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and other businesses under the last health order effective Monday, Santa Clara County officials confirmed the area joined the watchlist Sunday. As a result, the county will close indoor operations for personal care services, fitness centers, places of worship and other businesses on Wednesday, three days after being on the watchlist.

Any additional reopening of businesses or activities with state approval must wait, according to the governor.

11:15 a.m. July 13: Santa Clara County’s new health order takes effect. Here’s what’s new.

After initially being denied by the state of California to reopen more Santa Clara County businesses, the South Bay’s latest health order took effect Monday, allowing for personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, hotels and motels to resume activities.

While hair and nail salons, barbershops, as well as certain fitness and hospitality sectors can reopen, activities that require the removal of a mask, like dine-in eating or indoor swimming pools, must remain closed. Under Monday’s new health order, the county also expanded the size of gatherings, with 20 people indoors and 60 outside.

The county’s indefinite health order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been in place since March — the first in the U.S. — though officials have eased restrictions on many businesses and activities through various revisions, the previous being June 5 to allow in-store retail, outdoor dining, childcare, as well as outdoor religious, cultural and civic activities.

But in order to operate effective Monday, all businesses must verify they meet county social distancing protocols under penalty of perjury that could result in probation or up to four years in prison — a signal of heightened enforcement as more businesses can reopen amid widespread case increases. Businesses must meet public health guidance on physical distancing, density limitations, face mask requirements and ability to contact trace cases should they arise.

These verified business measures, along with a larger COVID-19 preparedness sign with a prominent checkmark, must be posted publicly for patrons and employees to review. If people notice the business may not be complying with its own protocols, they can report it to the county.

Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody and County Counsel James Williams have said the order is based on overarching principles for businesses and activities, but the county also released industry-specific directives for businesses considered higher risk.

9:25 a.m. July 13: Santa Clara County has spent nearly $135 million on pandemic to date, dashboard shows

Santa Clara County has spent nearly $135 million on COVID-19 pandemic-related costs to date, with most spent on staffing, a new data dashboard shows.

Expenditures in the county’s cost tracker are broken down into pay and benefits to county employees who spend time on COVID-19-related activities, including temporary hires and overtime. Meanwhile, the dashboard also shows costs of services, supplies, contractors and equipment.

By agency, the county-run Valley Medical Center’s hospitals and clinics have received the bulk of expenditures, with most of the health system’s funding, nearly $35 million, going toward services and supplies, according to the data. The County Executive’s Office, which includes the Emergency Operations Center activated for COVID-19 response, had the next highest department amount, with nearly $22 million, most of which went to staffing.

Testing and personal protective equipment, for example, have cost the county more than $10 million. Still, the county’s top vendor cost remains unclear with more than $10 million going to “Other Pharmaceutical” costs. The second and third highest pandemic expenditures went to Pacific Medical and South Bay Construction, respectively.

The county Emergency Operations Center was not immediately available for comment Monday morning.

In late May, the Board of Supervisors approved creating a cost tracker in the efforts of increasing government transparency. Proposed by supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Dave Cortese, the county would begin reporting COVID-19 spending by department and expected reimbursements from the state or federal government.

“We’re asking our community to sacrifice so much right now,” Ellenberg said during the May 26 board meeting. “And we owe it to them to show that we’re spending this money in a way that is going to get us out of shelter-in-place as quickly as safely possible.”

Officials also said the dashboard would also serve as a tool to inform larger general budget discussions, especially as local governments have experienced historic deficits caused by the pandemic.

Santa Clara County has spent nearly $135 million on COVID-19 pandemic-related costs to date, with most spent on staffing, a new data dashboard shows.

1:32 p.m. July 11: Santa Clara County numbers ‘aren’t going in the right direction,’ health officer says

As Santa Clara County saw hospitalized patients with COVID-19 rise to 118 people, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said the numbers “aren’t going in the right direction” in a new video released by the Public Health Department.

Hospitalizations have grown from just 38 patients with the novel coronavirus three weeks ago, while there are now 45 intensive care beds filled by COVID-19 positive patients as of Saturday, per public health data. Slightly more than 4 percent of hospital beds are filled by COVID-19 patients in Santa Clara County. Still, even as the region has seen a resurgence in cases, numbers in the South Bay have not risen as high as other parts of California or the U.S.

“Thanks to the efforts and sacrifices by everyone, we were able to flatten the curve here in Santa Clara County more than almost anywhere else,” Cody said in the short video posted Saturday. “But right now, the numbers we’re seeing aren’t going in the right direction.”

In June, Santa Clara County joined a state monitoring list for its increases in hospitalizations. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the county had been removed from the watchlist, just in time for the state to approve further reopening of businesses locally, which is set to take effect this Monday. The county’s new public health order allows many personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, hotels and motels to resume business, but only under social distancing protocols business owners must verify.

Cody recommended people limit leaving their homes, but if they do go out, residents must wear a face covering — now a state and local requirement — and stay outdoors as much as possible. Additionally, the county’s top health official said to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet.

“If we come together and we’re successful, we can get back to where we want to be — a community where businesses are able to stay open and kids can safely return to school,” Cody said. “If we all follow these simple measures, we’ll all be safer and we’ll be able to  do as many things as possible, and we’ll be headed back in the right direction.”

11:53 a.m. July 10: Heightened enforcement for businesses with new Santa Clara County public health order

Santa Clara County’s new public health order set to take effect Monday reopens many personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, hotels and motels, but only under social distancing protocols all business owners must sign under penalty of perjury.

While county officials stress this is a last-stop measure, lying about a business’s procedures around public health compliance could result in probation or up to four years in prison. This new enforcement was not included under the county’s previous order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The main idea is that businesses need to take seriously the requirements to comply with the order,” Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro said in an email Thursday. “This is an important change that requires people to take great care in how we work together.”

In a Public Health Department briefing Friday, county spokesperson Betty Duong outlined the new protocols intended to protect workers and customers. The county requires all businesses to verify they meet public health guidance on physical distancing, density limitations, face mask requirements and ability to contact trace cases should they arise.

Under the new order, businesses will look different, particularly for hair and nail salons and other industries that have received industry-specific directives. The county allows personal care services to only take appointments and restrict waiting areas, while services done to people’s faces, like beard trimming or eyelash extensions, are prohibited for now, as face coverings are required at all times. Additionally, customers should limit the items they bring inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19, though phones are permitted.

These verified business measures, along with a larger COVID-19 preparedness sign with a prominent blue checkmark, must be posted publicly for patrons and employees to review. If people notice the business may not be complying with its own protocols, they can report it to the county.

“Our approach is not to punish businesses. Our mission right now is a safe resumption of economic activity so that we don’t have to backslide and close things down again,” Duong said.

All businesses must submit protocols online before they operate Monday. To report a business, residents can contact 1-866-870-7725.

10:58 a.m. July 9: Winchester Mystery House to reopen self-guided mansion tours

Since closing four months ago, the Winchester Mystery House announced it would reopen for self-guided mansion tours next Monday in accordance with Santa Clara County’s latest public health order.

While the famed San Jose mansion has been closed since March 12, Winchester had reopened its outdoor gardens for self-guided tours on May 15 under state guidance allowing outdoor museums and botanical gardens to reopen. As of next Monday, visitors can now access the 160-room mansion on self-guided, touchless tours, a news release announced.

“For 97 years, we’ve offered Mansion Tours, but over the course of the past few months we’ve been challenged to create a safe and compelling experience for guests that will be sustainable in the ‘new normal,’” Walter Magnuson, Winchester’s general manager, said in a statement. “We have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to share this iconic attraction with the public, and the Self-Guided Mansion Tour will allow our visitors to explore the various rooms like never before.”

Magnuson added the tours leverage the house’s unique design and provide guests with ample time and space to engage with the estate’s history while complying with social distancing guidelines. Winchester hosts will be positioned throughout the estate to assist guests, but the tour is entirely self-guided with audio and signage.

To ensure social distancing protocols, tour groups are smaller, restricted to members of the same family, and have a modified one-way linear route to focus on the mansion’s largest rooms. Along with timed ticketing, guests and employees must wear face coverings, and there are sanitization stations throughout the estate, a news release said.

The county’s newest order, set to take effect next Monday with state approval, reopens many personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, as well as hotels and motels. The order also increases indoor gatherings of up to 20 people while requiring businesses to verify physical distancing protocols, which includes density limits at one worker per 250 square feet and one customer per 150 square feet. Face coverings are required at any business.

But many indoor activities — such as dine-in eating and swimming pools — as well as other areas where people remove masks are still prohibited. Larger gatherings like sports venues, night clubs or amusement parks, which fall under California’s last phase of reopening, also remain closed.

A ticket purchase of the mansion tour also gets visitors access to Winchester’s gardens. For more information about its health and safety guidelines, visit Winchester’s website.

10 a.m. July 9: San Jose reinstates additional parking compliance

San Jose began enforcing additional parking compliance to identify, warn and potentially remove vehicles considered health and safety threats or those that contribute to blight effective Wednesday, the city Department of Transportation said in a news release. The city has reinstated many parking enforcement measures since they were halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City parking and traffic control officials define unsafe or blight as cars on jacks or blocks, missing or shattered windows, vandalized or graffiti, significantly flat tires or illegal dumping activities.

Now, officers also enforce temporary tow-away zones in nonresidential areas, in addition to ensuring access to construction sites. Large red and white temporary signs identify tow-away zones, which are typically posted on barricades or attached to meter poles.

Meanwhile, other vehicle abatement services will remain suspended, but authorities will not respond to requests submitted through San Jose 311, the city’s one-stop service request provider. Officers also will not tow vehicles where people are living inside them.

On June 8, parking and traffic officers resumed vehicle patrols to identify nonoperational vehicles parked illegally on city streets and leave warnings for owners. Actual towing began a week after.

In four weeks, the transportation department reported officers warned and removed 27 nonoperational vehicles from streets, with approximately 70 percent of those towed not reported but identified from patrols.

For more details on parking compliance, visit the Department of Transportation blog.

6 p.m. July 8: San Jose’s Communications Hill staircase reopens to public

The Communications Hill staircase has reopened to the public after three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Jose parks department announced Wednesday. The popular attraction was one of the last park destinations to reopen in the city.

Still, many park amenities remained closed, including playgrounds, restrooms, basketball courts, barbecue and picnic areas, as well as drinking fountains, among others, according to the city parks website. Attractions such as Happy Hollow Park and Zoo’s classes and events, Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park and Arcadia Ballpark remain shuttered for now too.

For more information on parks and amenities that have reopened, visit the city parks department website.

1:30 p.m. July 8: Newsom seeks to reassure amid California’s hospitalization increases

As admitted hospitalized patients have continued to increase in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday sought to reassure the state was ready to manage surges in novel coronavirus cases with bolstered health care capacity, supplies and staff.

In a two-week period, hospital and intensive care cases from COVID-19 have respectively jumped 44 and 34 percent. On Tuesday, the state saw its highest daily total of 11,694 new cases, though Newsom warned this included a previous day backlog of Los Angeles County reporting numbers. California’s seven-day average has increased to 8,116 cases.

Still, Newsom said the state has prepared since the surges in cases in March that strained hospital systems, enough to add federal hospitals in locations such as the Santa Clara Convention Center to meet demand in COVID-19 cases.

“I wanted to give you an assurance that the last four months have been meaningful and intentional,” Newsom told viewers in his briefing. “I hope you feel a sense of that preparedness to meet your needs, to meet your neighbor’s needs, your community’s needs, the state needs, and to do so head-on.”

In March, when governments began instituting stay-home orders and cases surged, Newsom said the state used 20 percent of surge beds, or additional space for hospital patients due to the pandemic. Now, the state has increased hospital capacity to treat 50,000 COVID-19 patients if needed. In addition to California’s 416 hospitals, he pointed to identified sites for additional surge sites, such as old hospitals and the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, that are in “warm status” ready to meet demands.

Calling March’s availability of surgical and N95 masks “wholly inadequate,” the governor said the state now has 232 million surgical masks and 46 million N95s in inventory. Millions more have been distributed, including to four other states.

The California Hospital Association’s president and chief executive, Carmela Coyle, said health systems have adjusted plans, preparing with adequate supplies and staff training, and partnering with other systems as well as state and local officials to meet needs across the state.

“We’re preparing to surge,” Coyle said. “We’re going to surge differently this time.”

11:59 a.m. July 8: With new health order, all Santa Clara County businesses must do this, officials say

With Santa Clara County’s new public health order set to take effect next Monday, all open businesses — including those already open — must verify they have proper physical distancing, face requirement and case reporting protocols, the county’s top legal official said Wednesday.

In submitting the required forms, businesses can be held under penalty of perjury, according to County Counsel James Williams. This appears to mark heightened public health enforcement as more businesses get set to reopen in the South Bay.

“Our collective ability to be consistent and to have this as kind of the new norm across the board is going to be absolutely vital to control cases and prevent serious and death in our community,” Williams said in a briefing. “We’re hoping that, by having these as more uniform and clear expectations, that’s something that workers and customers — that all of us together as residents in this community — can ensure this is the expectation wherever we go.”

Officials have said the new order is based on broad principles for businesses, with sectors considered higher risk receiving additional guidance. Among the principles, Williams added, are preferring outdoor to indoor activities, “universal, strict” face coverings requirements, and at least 6 feet of physical distancing as well as sanitation standards.

In addition, businesses must limit spacing to one worker per 250 square feet and a customer for 150 square feet. The county also requires reporting positive COVID-19 cases to public health officials and making compliance forms available to customers and workers.

Under the new order, personal care services can reopen, including hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, barbershops, spas, gyms and fitness centers countywide. The county also expanded small gatherings to include up to 60 people outside and 20 people inside, an increase from the previous June 5 order.

Still, many indoor activities — such as dine-in eating and swimming pools — as well as other areas where people remove masks are still prohibited. Larger gatherings like sports venues, night clubs or amusement parks, which fall under California’s last phase of reopening, also remain closed.

To verify they meet county public health requirements, businesses can complete mandated social distancing protocols online here.

9:20 a.m. July 8: Here are pop-up testing sites in Santa Clara County this week

Santa Clara County has three free pop-up test sites across the South Bay open through Saturday.

At the Campbell, San Jose and Gilroy testing locations, residents can get tested without an appointment, health insurance or a doctor’s note, and regardless of immigration status or age, though children under 12 need parent consent, according to the county’s pop-up testing webpage. These sites are appropriate for people who do not have COVID-10 symptoms, officials have said.

The Campbell Community Center, 1 W. Campbell Ave., will have daily testing in its Orchard City Banquet Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On San Jose’s east side, Independence High School, 617 N. Jackson Ave., has a site in the C Commons through Friday, 1-6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In Gilroy, the South County Annex, 9300 Wren Ave., has testing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If residents test positive at one of the pop-up sites, they should receive a phone call within three to four days, or as soon as the next day. People who test negative should receive an email, in multiple languages, within five days. If they have no email, they will receive a mailed letter within 10 days.

To find more testing locations, visit the county website or call 211.

9:25 p.m. July 7: County conducts nearly half of all tests by health system, new dashboard shows

Santa Clara County’s health system has conducted close to half of all COVID-19 tests, new Public Health Department data shows, which follows criticism by health officials directed at other local hospitals and clinics for insufficient testing.

Out of all 156,628 tests conducted since January, the county system conducted 71,069 tests as of Tuesday, which is about 45 percent. But in the reporting period between June 25 and last Wednesday, the county’s testing jumped to 58 percent of tests conducted.

The second highest number came from Kaiser Permanente, which has conducted 32,682 total tests, followed by Stanford Health Care with 29,759 cumulative tests. Meanwhile, OptumServe and Alphabet-owned Verily sites have done more than 32,000 total tests to date.

On June 10, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order requiring large health care systems to test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, people who have been in contact with positive cases, and others at higher risk of exposure because they work in front-line jobs or have attended mass gatherings.

At the time, officials said county-run Valley Medical Center and its clinics have borne the brunt of testing, which has resulted in the county falling short overall. They laid blame on Kaiser, Stanford, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Regional Medical Center.

Comparatively, the county’s health systems serve a smaller fraction of the overall population, compared to 1 million residents served by private systems.

“The county can’t do it by itself, the small community clinics can’t do it by themselves,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing czar and a former county health officer, in announcing the June order. “But the large health care centers, the large clinics in this county need to step up and help provide additional testing so that we can meet our goal.”

Since the end of June, the county has met testing goals of 200 daily tests per 100,000 people, per public health data. The testing dashboard unveiled Tuesday comes as Santa Clara County received state approval to reopen more businesses based on meeting public health criteria including testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators. View testing data here.

10:09 a.m. July 7: Santa Clara County receives state approval for further reopening, outdoor dining continues

After an initial denial over the Independence Day weekend, state officials approved Santa Clara County’s request to reopen more businesses under a new health order set to take effect next Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, the county’s 35-page application to verify it met certain criteria was added onto the California Department of Public Health’s list of counties that have received approval. Ali Bay, a CDPH spokesperson, said in an email the document posted meets the state’s criteria.

Because of this, Santa Clara County said in a statement that outdoor dining can continue, while the new public health order will go into effect next Monday.

By attesting to indicators around case rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other requirements, Santa Clara can move further into the state’s phased reopening plan, meaning the county can now begin the path to reopening personal care services, gyms and fitness centers under its new health order announced last Thursday.

The county had been informed last Saturday the state had initially rejected its application. The denial came as armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors on Friday, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police.

The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order. The county disputed that Monday, saying unless told by the state they could not, outdoor dining could continue.

On Monday, local officials said they were in communication with the state to understand what needed to be done in the county to receive state approval. County Deputy Executive David Campos told San José Spotlight the county was denied for increases in hospitalizations, which remained relatively low overall. This had resulted in the county being added to a state watchlist, but Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Santa Clara County was off the list Monday.

Before, Santa Clara, Alameda and Imperial counties were the only regions that had not received approval for further reopening, though the latter Southern California county was instructed by Newsom to reinstitute strict lockdown measures because it’s rising case and hospitalization rates.

County officials have said the new health order to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, gyms, fitness centers and larger gatherings would take effect once the state approves their request or by July 13, whichever comes later. In the coming days, the county will post sector-specific directives related to the new order.

12:35 p.m. July 6: Santa Clara County taken off state monitoring list, Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday 23 counties were on the state’s watchlist for COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations or insufficient testing, but Santa Clara was no longer among them.

Santa Clara County had been on the state monitoring list since late June for its increases in hospitalizations. On Wednesday, Newsom ordered 19 counties on the watchlist for at least three days, including Santa Clara, to shutter indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. Bars were closed altogether. However, much of these businesses remained closed under Santa Clara County’s more strict health order.

For regions on the watchlist, Newsom announced Wednesday the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams for businesses not complying with state public health orders.

Newsom said Monday six new counties — Colusa, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey and San Diego — were added to the list, while Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties were taken off the original watchlist set.

Still, it remains to be seen how this affects Santa Clara County’s plan to reopen more businesses pending state approval.

The state denied the county’s application Saturday, which under Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody’s public health order issued Thursday, would open personal care services, including spas, hair and nail salons, fitness centers and larger gatherings by July 13 or the state’s approval, whichever comes later. The rejection came a day after state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told South County restaurants they couldn’t operate, saying the area did not have state approval to have outdoor dining, which was allowed under the county’s June 5 public health order.

10:30 a.m. July 6: More case increases in Santa Clara County as state denies further reopening

The Independence Day weekend saw one of Santa Clara County’s largest increases in COVID-19 cases to date, which came as the state of California denied the county’s application for further reopening of businesses and activities.

The county reported 523 new confirmed cases since July 2, county spokesperson Larry Little said in a briefing Monday. “A substantial increase” in cases came from younger people between the ages of 20 to 49, he added. Meanwhile, community transmission of the novel coronavirus accounted for 58.5 percent of all cases.

Amid the increases, state public health officials rejected the county’s application to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, spas and larger gatherings by July 13, part of a new public health order issued by Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s top health official, on Thursday. In order to do so, local officials must attest to state public health criteria around transmission rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators.

In a Monday morning briefing, Deputy County Executive David Campos said the state issued an initial rejection to the county’s variance application, but local officials are still communicating with the state on what needs to be done to receive approval. It was not immediately clear what spurred the county’s rejection. But as discussions continue, Campos said the state order applies where it has more strict requirements.

He also confirmed incidents Friday in South County, where armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police.

The county, Campos added, did not receive prior warning about enforcement. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom had announced the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams, including ABC, to identify businesses not complying with state public health orders. The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order.

It still remains to be seen how the rejection impacts the July 13 timeline for the new health order, or if restaurants can continue serving people outdoors. Campos was not immediately available for comment after the briefing.

12:24 a.m. July 5: Santa Clara County denied reopening request by state officials, report says

Santa Clara County has been denied by the state to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, gyms and spas, the Mercury News reported Saturday.

County Executive Jeff Smith reportedly said the denial was confusing given other counties were previously allowed to reopen as part of the state’s process where local officials attest to meeting certain public health criteria around transmission rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators.

“They’ve granted variances to basically every other country that’s applied and they deny ours,” Smith told the Mercury News. “It makes no sense.”

On Thursday, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody unveiled the county’s new health order intended to reopen personal care services, including spas, hair and nail salons, fitness centers and larger gatherings by July 13. Many indoor facilities, such as dine-in eating, night clubs, bars and swimming pools, as well as other areas where people remove face coverings are still prohibited.

But Saturday’s denial appears to complicate local plans for reopening, especially as armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police.

The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams, including ABC, for businesses not complying with state public health orders.

Amid COVID-19 case and hospitalization spikes across California, Newsom has toggled back restrictions in 19 counties, including Santa Clara, that are on the state’s watchlist for increasing cases, hospitalizations or insufficient testing. In doing so, the state mandated the closure of indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. Bars were shuttered altogether.

However, much of these businesses remained closed in Santa Clara County, which made it on the state watchlist for increases in hospitalized patients.

4:47 p.m. July 4: Santa Clara County reports highest daily count 

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department reported the region’s highest new daily COVID-19 case count Saturday, with 234 new cases.

This surpassed the county’s previous highest count, with 210 cases Wednesday, in addition to Thursday’s reported count of 185 new cases. On March 30, when cases first started spiking in the U.S., Santa Clara County had shown 202 new cases, but local health officials blamed those numbers on a reporting delay from previous days — not a significant new daily reporting increase.

Across California, cases also continued to increase Saturday, with 6,510 new cases reported.

While testing has increased in the county, coronavirus hospitalizations have trended upward, enough to put the South Bay on a California Department of Public Health monitoring list. In Santa Clara County, there were 82 hospitalized patients Saturday, up from just 38 people two weeks ago.

Still, the county’s 14-day positivity rate — a key statistical indicator of positive results out of all tests conducted — has remained low but ticked upward, at 2.2 percent Saturday, compared to the statewide 6.5 percent rate, according to state figures.

By comparison, newly-reported COVID-19 deaths have also remained low in the county. Since Monday, there have been five newly reported lives lost, though the county’s daily reporting period Saturday saw no new deaths. And as the state has averaged 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people, Santa Clara County only has 0.4 deaths with adjusted population.

10:50 a.m. July 3: Santa Clara County officials urge residents to stay home for Fourth of July

Residents should avoid family gatherings or fireworks shows for the Fourth of July weekend and instead go for Zoom calls or other virtual meetings, according to Santa Clara County officials on Friday.

With cases and hospitalizations increasing, the county Public Health Department continued to urge residents to slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when outside, and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet between others.

“This 4th of July, the safest way to celebrate is with only the people you live with,” Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement. “We are all in this together, and gathering in groups means COVID-19 spreads in the community. And the more it spreads, the more it endangers older adults and others at high risk of serious illness.”

For the Independence Day weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom closed parking at state beaches in the Bay Area and Southern California. On Wednesday, he also ordered 19 counties, including Santa Clara, to shuttered indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. While Santa Clara’s current health order has kept these indoor businesses closed, Newsom urged the 19 counties — encompassing more than 70 percent of Californians — to cancel fireworks shows.

Meanwhile, the state launched public service announcements in English and Spanish to encourage people to wear face masks, which are required under an order by Newsom.

“We all have a responsibility to slow the spread,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is imperative — and required — that Californians protect each other by wearing masks and practicing physical distancing when in public so we can fully reopen our economy. We all need to stand up, be leaders, show we care and get this done.”

Read the full story here.

2:30 p.m. July 2: New Santa Clara County order to reopen spas, nail and hair salons

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued a new order Thursday that would reopen gyms, hair and nail salons and allow small gatherings as early as July 13.

“We acknowledge the COVID pandemic is not ending anytime soon and we need to adapt to the virus,” Cody said. “We need to conduct our lives differently because we’re in it for the long haul. That’s the primary driving force behind the change.”

Santa Clara County is applying for state approval to move into the next stage of reopening the economy, officials announced. Strict social distancing requirements and mandatory face coverings would be in place.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said enforcing the rules would be somewhat of an “honor” system but that he hopes people are peer pressured into doing the right thing.

“Peer pressure would say if you want to met without a mask, don’t meet,” Cortese said. “We just heard that distancing is going to be critical in this next phase to keep things as safe as it’s been… If you’re not willing to be at six feet, then we don’t meet.”

Supervisor Cindy Chavez said county officials acknowledge that COVID-19 cases are rising, but it’s up to the community to follow safety rules to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We’re going to rely on our businesses to be ruthlessly committed to following the rules,” she said. “This weekend is Fourth of July and if we’re not careful, 14 days from now we’re going to start seeing people in our hospitals.”

The announcement by the Public Health Department comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 California counties, including Santa Clara, to close indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms to close for at least three weeks. Bars, meanwhile, were ordered to close altogether. The directive was targeted at counties on the state’s watchlist for at least three days.

But Santa Clara County, which has seen a spike in hospitalizations that caught the state’s attention, has yet to allow these businesses to operate indoors under a more restrictive shelter-in-place order. The county last revised its order June 5, when officials allowed in-store retail, outdoor dining, childcare for all families as well as religious, cultural and civic activities to resume.

On Monday, Cody reaffirmed she would issue a new health order this week to end sector-specific strategies and move to business-wide guidelines, with additional requirements for higher risk activities, after first announcing she would revise the order last Friday. Given Newsom’s rollbacks Wednesday, it’s unclear how the anticipated county order might look, especially amid case and hospitalization increases.

“We are evaluating the governor’s statements with regards to how they apply to the County of Santa Clara,” a Public Health Department statement said Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

8:40 a.m. July 2: San Jose enacts Al Fresco “parklets” to expand outdoor dining, shopping

The city of San Jose is taking applications, at no cost, for a business to obtain a “parklet” in parking spaces in front of their businesses as part of San Jose Al Fresco, an initiative designed to operate small businesses outside amid the pandemic.

A parklet is a set of repurposed parking spaces blocked from traffic, often for outdoor dining, a city news release said. The temporary permit — valid through Dec. 31 or until the county’s shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted — applies only to businesses located on a street in a commercial area, where the speed limit is 25 mph or less. In doing so, the city will provide and install traffic barriers at no charge.

Under the San Jose Al Fresco initiative enacted by City Council, restaurants, salons, cafes, gyms, yoga studios and other retailers to take advantage of the city’s summer weather by setting up shop outside in public spaces such as parking lots, parks, alleys, plazas and streets. An emergency order signed by City Manager Dave Sykes last Friday streamlined the process for parklets, which no longer requires businesses to construct platforms while giving them more room to operate outside.

“The City is encouraging contiguous groups of businesses to apply as a group, to create a more lively and activated retail and dining street-scene throughout San José’s commercial areas,” a city news release said.

More information and the application is available on the San Jose Al Fresco website.

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