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COVID Surge: Santa Clara County Issues New Tougher Restrictions On Businesses And Travel

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) -- With new COVID cases and hospitalizations continuing to surge, Santa Clara County health officials Saturday announced further restrictions on local businesses, discouraged non-essential travel and will now require a 14-day quarantine on anyone returning to the county from a trip of more than 150 miles.

The restrictions in Santa Clara County include a ban on contact sports like the San Francisco 49ers and reduced capacity inside businesses and facilities open to the public.

The 49ers have home games scheduled for Dec. 7 against Buffalo and Dec. 13 against Washington at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. The team also practices at that site in the county.

"We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed," the team said in a statement.

While not issuing a shelter-in-place order, Director of Public Health Dr. Sara Cody urged people to stay at home as much as possible.

"We urge everyone to stay home to the greatest extent that you can," Cody said at a rare Saturday news conference. "Please stay home. Do not go out unless it is for essential reasons."

As of Saturday, there were 760 new cases of COVID-19 in the county and 239 COVID-related hospitalizations, 71 of whom are in the ICU. All those are record numbers since the pandemic began in late January.

"We have the highest case rate of any county in the San Francisco Bay Area," Cody said. "Just today we had 760 new cases, far shattering any previous record by over 200 cases."

And that, Cody warned, was without the expected surge of cases triggered by Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.

"What we do today or what we don't do today may be a matter of life and death for many living in our county," she said. "Our case rates and hospitalizations continue to surge."

The number of patients being treated in county hospitals for COVID-19 has doubled since Nov. 12.

"This pandemic is like a high-speed train," Cody warned. "Our projections tell us that we are on target to derail by around the third week of December if we don't apply brakes right now with all our collective might."

County Counsel James Williams said the changes in the health order would go into effect Monday and remain in place until at least Dec. 21.

The new order includes:

  • Stores and other facilities open to the public will be limited to 10% capacity indoors.
  • Grocery stores, drug stores, and pharmacies will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity indoors to ensure adequate access to food and medicine
  • All facilities open to the public must post employees at the door to make sure the capacity limits are maintained
  • Gatherings continue to be allowed only outdoors, with a maximum of 100 people. The state limits such gatherings to First Amendment protected activities, such as religious services or protests
  • All recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one's household, including all contact sports, will be temporarily prohibited
  • Cardrooms are temporarily closed
  • Hotels and other lodging facilities will be open only for essential travel and for use to facilitate isolation or quarantine
  • A new mandatory directive on travel will require people to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the county from travel of more than 150 miles

Health officials expect virus-spreading Thanksgiving gatherings and flu season to add more patients and overwhelm hospitals by mid-December. The county has seen 32,985 cases since the pandemic began -- the highest in the greater Bay Area -- and 476 deaths.

"Today we are between an extreme rock and a hard place," Cody said. "Our focused measures as we've seen are no match for the tsunami of cases and hospitalizations."

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report

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