White House report: Santa Clara County among highest in state with COVID-19 cases
Santa Clara County's COVID-19 chart shows a steady rise in cases since July. File photo by Vicente Vera.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest warning of another stay-at-home order comes on the heels of a White House coronavirus report advising California to implement more restrictions to slow the recent surge of COVID-19.

The state overall had 76,738 new cases, or 194 new cases per 100,000 residents, with 49.5 percent occurring in the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego, according to the Nov. 22 report. It listed Santa Clara County as one of the top 12 counties in California experiencing a COVID-19 spike in November.

“We share the concern of California leaders that enhanced observance of intensified mitigation measures is needed to avoid an increase in preventable hospitalizations and deaths,” the report states. “The governor’s continued efforts and communication to the public on these measures is crucial and commended.”

A screenshot of the White House’s report on California’s COVID-19 cases. Courtesy of the Center for Public Integrity.

The report, which comes from the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, contains documents for all 50 states that include a detailed look at the COVID-19 outbreak and White House recommendations to curb the spread. It was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and shared with nonprofit news organizations.

The report for California recommended limiting or closing areas of congregation without masking, such as indoor dining. It called for a more proactive approach to testing, as well as a stronger communications campaign to reinforce the importance of social distancing and wearing masks throughout the holiday season.

“The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through pro-active, focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals,” it states. “This must be combined with significant behavior change…Ensure every American understands the clear risks of any family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household (while) indoors without masks.”

It further advised ensuring all K-12 schools were following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as mask wearing and routinely testing teachers, and all health clinics had contingency plans in place and were following up-to-date treatment protocols.

The report noted there was a 20% increase in total COVID-19 hospital admissions throughout California between Nov. 14 to Nov. 20. During this period, an average of 662 patients with confirmed cases and 573 patients with suspected cases were admitted to the hospital each day.

Between Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, 5% of nursing homes had at least one resident with a new case of COVID-19, while 11% had at least one staff member with a new caseTwo percent had at least one resident die from coronavirus.

A screenshot of the White House’s report on California’s COVID-19 cases. Courtesy of the Center for Public Integrity.

Newsom said this week he may issue a stay-at-home order, as he did in mid-March, if intensive care units fill up in California.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he said. “If we don’t act now we’ll continue to see more lives lost.”

Newsom acknowledged the potential new restrictions would take a toll on small businesses. To soften the blow, he has said there will be an automatic three-month income tax extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax, as well as expanded interest-free payment agreements for larger businesses.

The governor added California is expecting to receive approximately 327,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine by mid-December, with a second round of doses coming about three weeks later.

Santa Clara County released its vaccine plan this week detailing where the county will store the vaccine and how it will be distributed.

As of Thursday, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department listed the 7-day rolling average of new cases as 533, the highest number since the department began recording this data in March. For comparison, this figure hovered in the 100s throughout September and October.

The county’s cumulative COVID-19 death count stood at 495 as of Thursday.

Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.

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