Santa Clara County Bans Large Gatherings After Coronavirus Death

Officials say the ban on gatherings of 1,000 people or more will last for three weeks

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Santa Clara County officials are banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people starting Wednesday to limit the spread of COVID-19, the leaders said Monday evening.

At a news briefing, county officials said the ban will last for three weeks. The ban was announced after authorities confirmed the county's first coronavirus-related death.

The ban will affect, among other events, sports gatherings such as San Jose Sharks' games but the teams could play without spectators, county counsel James Williams said.

The San Jose Sharks provided the following statement late Monday:

Williams said the ban will be enforceable by sheriff's deputies and police, and law enforcement will have discretion over how to enforce the ban. It may be the first such ban in the U.S.

Additionally, Dr. Sarah Cody, the county's director of public health, is encouraging people to practice "social distancing" to slow the spread of the virus.

She said slowing the spread is critical because a surge could overwhelm county staff as they try to help the people who are infected.

"I really want to emphasize the importance of everyone doing their part in coming together to slow the spread of this infection and protect the public," Cody said.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was optimistic.

He said, "I'm confident that if we take care of each other and we work together we are collectively stronger than this virus."

County executive Dr. Jeff Smith said the county is still looking for a place for the homeless to self-isolate should they become infected. He said Santa Clara County does not need to allocate money as San Francisco did Monday to protect the homeless and people in single-room-occupancy hotels.

"We're in a different situation than San Francisco," Smith said.

"We don't have to allocate (money). Our health care system is available to anyone in need.

"Our system is designed to be able to provide whatever services are needed so the homeless are welcome. Anybody is welcome whether you are able to pay or whether you are a citizen or resident."

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