Santa Clara County leaders and public health officials announced Friday all public schools will close for three weeks and the county is limiting gatherings further in the wake of several more coronavirus cases emerging countywide.
Dr. Sara Cody, county health officer and director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, announced at a news conference Friday the following orders:
- A new order revising the mass gathering ban to impose a ban on gatherings of 100 or more persons, and five conditions on gatherings of 35-100 persons.
- All public schools in Santa Clara County will be closing for three weeks beginning Monday.
- The current coronavirus case count is 79, an increase of 13 from the latest total as of Thursday and nearly double the number of cases within a week, Cody said.
"As the outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County continues to accelerate, our aggressive measures are designed to slow the spread of disease and protect critical healthcare system capacity and other essential services," Cody said. "We recognize these actions will have a significant impact of the lives of our citizens, but we believe they are necessary to protect the well-being of our community."
The new rules regarding gatherings sent shock waves through downtown San Jose. O'Flaherty's Irish Pub said it doesn't know if it will have to close down for the duration of the order. At Chacho's restaurant, business is being driven away by coronavirus concerns.
"Even at the 6-foot limit, we don't have the people coming in," Chacho's owner Jorge Sanchez said. "In this restaurant, right now, it's more like a 10-foot limit. There's nobody here."
The mass gathering ban does not include normal operations at airports or spaces where persons may be in transit; office environments; classrooms; medical offices, hospitals, or clinics; or retail, pharmacy, or grocery stores where large numbers of people may be present, the county said.
The school closures decision is designed to provide schools with the time needed to comply with public health guidance and ensure they are able to operate in a manner that facilitates social distancing, the county said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo released a statement later Friday in response to the new order from the county.
"In the absence of adequate resources in the U.S. for testing that would enable local communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we are left with little choice but to shut schools and manage as best we can the very substantial disruption to our families and communities," Liccardo said.
Find a list of Bay Area coronavirus cases here.
Find a list of school closures here.