Santa Clara County officials pleaded with residents Wednesday to avoid social gatherings and traveling for Thanksgiving as new cases of COVID-19 surge in the county and across the state.
The county received reports of 512 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a new record for new cases in a single day, according to County Counsel James Williams. The county also recorded 45 new hospitalizations of coronavirus patients, another record, bumping the county's total number of hospitalizations to 213.
"We're very concerned about what is happening here in our community," Williams said. "We are extremely concerned about what this means for our hospitals' ability to care for not only people with COVID-19, but for other people who need access to care."
Williams and county COVID-19 testing officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said the recent spike in new cases and hospitalizations is more evidence that residents should avoid gathering for holidays like Thanksgiving and traveling to prevent spreading the virus.
"The hope is that next year, we can enjoy our Thanksgivings with our families and our winter holidays also, but this year we just have to be more strict, because it's going to protect your family, yourself, your co-workers and it will allow people to not have to go into the hospital," Fenstersheib said.
Williams said Tuesday that the county will be less lenient this weekend in issuing fines for failure to enforce and comply with local public health guidance like social distancing and indoor capacity limits.
The county generally offers businesses a grace period of up to 72 hours to rectify fineable offenses. That grace period will be waived from Thursday through Sunday, putting retailers and shopping centers that don't comply with local health guidance at risk of a fine between $250 and $5,000.
"At this point, we really need everybody's assistance in ensuring a safe shopping season," said Michael Balliet, the county's director of community and business engagement.
As of Tuesday, the county has confirmed 31,603 cases and 467 deaths due to the coronavirus. County residents can report public health violations at sccCOVIDconcerns.org.