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South Bay Health Officer Warns Coronavirus Could Soon Spread Out of Control Across State

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- One of Santa Clara county's top health leaders said Friday the state's approach to the pandemic isn't working and the virus is just weeks away from spreading out of control in California.

"We really need the state to uniformly do something dramatic to stop the spread," said Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeff Smith. "Otherwise, if we continue the way that we're going now it's only four to five weeks before we have the virus totally completely out of control, spreading like wildfire."

Smith said county leaders have reached out to state officials to suggest a more universal risk-reduction plan for California, however, they've been brushed away.

"At this point they've made it clear they're not interested in that right now," Smith said.

He said the state approach that leaves every county to decide for itself what's best "hasn't worked."

Smith said he also believes indoor gatherings should be banned statewide as they have been shown to be a high-risk activities for the transmission of the virus. Santa Clara county officials decided on Friday to reverse an order that would have allowed indoor gatherings of up to 20 people beginning Monday because of an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Smith's prediction that the virus could spread uncontrollably comes as Santa Clara County moves farther into Stage 2, which includes reopening gyms and fitness studios.

"Excited to be around people again," said Red Dot Fitness studio founder and owner Scott Howell. "Safety is going to be our primary concern to get things going. There's no doubt about that, we get it -- face masks, social distancing, disinfecting."

Howell is making sure that he'll be able to follow all of the county's strict guidelines in order to reopen his San Jose studio but he said that Smith's message about prohibiting indoor gatherings paints a picture.

"What it shows to me is that there's as much anxiety at our official level as there is in the community level," Howell said. "I get it but, at the same time, we need leadership that is going to make a solid, clear decision."

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