Santa Clara County health officials on Tuesday announced a rapid increase in COVID-19 case rates and updated recommendations regarding vaccinations and masks as well as the county health order in light of the spike.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody held a briefing Tuesday morning to provide an update on the omicron variant. She said case rates in the county have almost tripled over the past few weeks, and a majority of those new cases are the omicron variant.
In response to the spike, Cody once again urged residents to get vaccinated, get boosted and continue to wear a mask indoors. She added that though there's no mandate, businesses in the county should require employees to be fully vaccinated, including a booster.
About 52% of all those eligible in the county have received a booster shot, Cody said.
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"Less than two weeks ago, we noted that the Omicron variant was about to bring a deluge of new COVID-19 cases to Santa Clara County. Unfortunately, that deluge is now here," Cody said. "We urge everyone in our community to get boosted as soon as they are eligible and be highly cautious because the Omicron variant is so transmissible. It is especially essential that workers who are delivering health care and interacting with vulnerable populations are vaccinated and boosted in order to best protect themselves and the people in their care."
The county did revise the public health order to require up-to-date vaccinations, which includes boosters, for all workers in higher-risk settings such as those in health care, medical first responders, skilled nursing facilities, jails and correctional facilities and congregate shelters, according to a news release.
The local order requires such workers to have up-to-date vaccinations by Jan. 24.
It also requires unvaccinated workers in the high-risk settings be reassigned to lower risk settings or otherwise be prohibited from working in the higher-risk workplace, the county says.
"What we want to do is help the health care system absorb the surge coming their way," Dr. Cody said. "Our recommendations are designed to absorb the deluge we have now."
In addition to medical workers, Santa Clara County is enforcing the rules mentioned above to those who work in homeless shelters.
Restaurant workers are not under a mandate to show proof of vaccine, but Dr. Cody said it is recommended for both employees and patrons to show they're up to date with their shots.
Appointments for vaccinations and boosters are available at www.sccfreevax.org.