Santa Clara County sees surge in COVID-19 cases
Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, urges the public to adhere to safety protocols at a briefing Nov. 9, 2020. Photo by Vicente Vera.

Santa Clara County health officials made an urgent plea for people to continue to take precautions after seeing an alarming uptick in COVID-19 cases and an increase in hospitalizations.

“What’s significant about the increase in case counts that we’re seeing now is that it’s different than the slow rise that we’ve seen over the month of October,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “In the last week, we’ve seen a steep rise, more like a surge, and that concerns me and it concerns all of us because it could mean that we’re in for a large surge that will be difficult to control.”

Health officials said they saw 358 new COVID-19 cases reported Nov. 8, second only to the record 385 cases reported on July 15, and the infections are primarily with 18- to 34-year-olds.

“It is no longer a drift, and our cases are surging up,” Cody said.

She added local hospitals are now caring for more than 100 infected people as of Nov. 8. Cody also urged residents to get their flu shots to reduce hospital overcrowding.

“The sharp uptick is a worrying sign for what will happen with our hospitals,” she said.

Santa Clara County reported 24,490 positive COVID-19 cases and 430 deaths related to the disease on Nov. 8.

Cody said she could not elaborate on a specific reason for the recent increase but said Halloween gatherings and “pandemic fatigue” may have contributed to the surge.

County Counsel James Williams and Business Engagement Unit head Michael Balliet said Santa Clara County continues to enforce its health order.

Balliet said the county has issued 79 notices of violation and $600,000 in fines to businesses for continuing to ignore COVID-19 restrictions. So far, the county has received more than 1,850 reports of COVID-19 concerns at different businesses and establishments, 1,307 of which have been resolved, Balliet said.

Williams added that Calvary Chapel is the only establishment for which the county sought a court order to stop ongoing health order violations. Church leaders there have hosted indoor church services with 600 people without masks or social distancing, despite warnings from the county.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez urged people to remain cautious and not let their guard down around people who reside outside their households, even friends and family.

“We sometimes think if we know someone, they can’t give us COVID,” Chavez said. “I don’t know why human beings think that but when I’ve watched people do this where they don’t know somebody and they’re more willing to put on their mask. But when they see someone, even if they haven’t seen them in a long time, they touch them, they embrace them. They think of households as being everybody I know. That is not your household.”

Health officials cautioned people to avoid non-essential travel, such as trips to visit family at gatherings of multiple households, or outside of the Bay Area. They recommended people do not travel outside the Bay Area for the holidays.

Cody said if families choose to gather, they should wear masks, keep their distance and stay outdoors.

“With cases rising around the country, and beginning to increase here in Santa Clara County as well, we all must come together and keep up our efforts to reduce transmission,” Cody said. “When people who live in different houses or apartments are together at the same time in the same space, risk of COVID-19 spreading goes up, even when the people are relatives or friends.”

Vicente Vera contributed to this report.

Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.

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