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Coronavirus Update: Santa Clara County Health Officer Says Preventive Measures Working; Easing Not Imminent

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Santa Clara County's public health officer on Tuesday gave a preview into what it would take to begin any easing of restrictions and guidelines to stop the spread of coronavirus, while cautioning the public needs to keep sheltering so as not to allow the cases to once again spread unchecked.

Dr. Sara Cody said at a press conference Tuesday data from the county and the region show that there is "reason for cautious optimism" that the shelter-in-place order and other measures across six Bay Area counties are working as intended.

Santa Clara County on Tuesday has seen 1,666 COVID-19 cases, and increase of 45 cases from Monday. There have been six more people who have died from the virus, for a total in the county of 60.

Cody said the number of cases being seen every day are "somewhat stable" - 50 to 100 new cases a day - and the number of deaths are also increasing, but slowly.

"The big tool that we had available to us which was to issue a shelter-in-place and do everything we could both through order and through encouragement and through collective action to slow things down. So the collective sacrifice and action that everyone has taken across the county has been protective," said Cody. "However, I want to emphasize that we are no means out of the woods. We're still probably at the beginning of what's going to be a very long marathon here in the county, across the region, and indeed across the country."

Raw Video: Santa Clara County Health Officer Remarks On Stemming Coronavirus Spread

Cody said there are three main issues that must be addressed before health authorities can consider easing the broad mitigation efforts such as blanket shelter-in-place orders:

  • Hospital capacity needs to be adequate, with enough beds, staff and an adequate PPE supply that can be counted on.
  • There needs to more widespread COVID-19 testing, especially because the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.
  • Capacity for case investigation and contact investigation - much like was done to track infections at the beginning of the epidemic - needs to be ramped up to carefully follow cases as the numbers level off.

Cody says health officials are using the current shelter-in-place to go through the extensive planning needed to make sure those issues have been adequately addressed.

"We're using our time now while we have our shelter-in-place order to do that planning and we're doing it in collaboration, as always, with our colleagues around the region and around the state, because we are a very interconnected society and obviously we can't do it alone," she said.

As for who would make the call on the lifting the restrictions - which President Trump claimed Monday he would make the call over state's governors - Cody said California grants county health officers the authority to be more restrictive that state health officers when needed, such as at the beginning of the pandemic where Santa Clara County issued restrictions on gatherings and sheltering in place ahead of the governor's statewide guidelines.


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