News

Santa Clara County confirms 31 COVID-19 cases across four Costco locations, including Mountain View

The Mountain View Costco had a workplace outbreak in July, in which four employees contracted COVID-19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A public health investigation found that at least 31 employees across four Costco locations in Santa Clara County have tested positive for COVID-19, revealing a cluster of infections that may have occurred in retail stores during the month of July, according to a statement by the county Thursday.

County officials confirmed the most cases, 13, were at the Sunnyvale Costco, followed by eight at the Senter Road location in San Jose. Six cases were reported at the Gilroy Costco, and four were discovered at the Mountain View location.

While the investigation is ongoing, early results indicate that the employees contracted the virus by way of "community transmission," rather than infection between employees. In a press conference Thursday, Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing officer, said it's likely that the infected employees had contracted the virus during "day to day" activities, as opposed to getting it inside Costco or from other employees.

Costco representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Public health officials are conducting contact tracing to see who else may have been infected with COVID-19, and are reviewing the safety and social distancing policies at each store location to see if they comply with county health requirements. The Mountain View location had yet to be inspected as of Thursday, but the other three locations showed that Costco had largely adhered to the public health rules, Fenstersheib said.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Mountain View Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

No store locations have been shut down so far, Fenstersheib said, and public health officials are not dissuading customers from going to Costco.

"We feel that the public is totally safe in continuing to shop at Costco, but we still remind everyone to wear your mask and keep your social distance in any retail stores, including Costco," he said.

In the case of the San Jose Costco, public health investigators opted to test all of the employees to see who else may have been infected, but it's not clear whether the same will be done for the remaining Costco sites with case clusters. Fenstersheib said it's not unusual to have that many employees test positive when each location has something like 300 or 400 employees, but that any workplace with three or more cases prompts immediate action from the county.

Investigations into workplace clusters are a key part of the county's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly businesses and activities that include public contact. Employers are required to follow a step-by-step protocol when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, including reporting it to the county.

A similar string of COVID-19 outbreaks was reported last month at construction sites across the county, with the largest outbreak in Mountain View. Ten people tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 more were potentially exposed to the virus.

As of Thursday, public health investigators have found that the customer areas of the affected Costco locations have fully met the county's health standards. Some changes have been recommended to the employee areas, Fenstersheib said.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Santa Clara County confirms 31 COVID-19 cases across four Costco locations, including Mountain View

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 9:37 pm
Updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 12:28 pm

A public health investigation found that at least 31 employees across four Costco locations in Santa Clara County have tested positive for COVID-19, revealing a cluster of infections that may have occurred in retail stores during the month of July, according to a statement by the county Thursday.

County officials confirmed the most cases, 13, were at the Sunnyvale Costco, followed by eight at the Senter Road location in San Jose. Six cases were reported at the Gilroy Costco, and four were discovered at the Mountain View location.

While the investigation is ongoing, early results indicate that the employees contracted the virus by way of "community transmission," rather than infection between employees. In a press conference Thursday, Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing officer, said it's likely that the infected employees had contracted the virus during "day to day" activities, as opposed to getting it inside Costco or from other employees.

Costco representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Public health officials are conducting contact tracing to see who else may have been infected with COVID-19, and are reviewing the safety and social distancing policies at each store location to see if they comply with county health requirements. The Mountain View location had yet to be inspected as of Thursday, but the other three locations showed that Costco had largely adhered to the public health rules, Fenstersheib said.

No store locations have been shut down so far, Fenstersheib said, and public health officials are not dissuading customers from going to Costco.

"We feel that the public is totally safe in continuing to shop at Costco, but we still remind everyone to wear your mask and keep your social distance in any retail stores, including Costco," he said.

In the case of the San Jose Costco, public health investigators opted to test all of the employees to see who else may have been infected, but it's not clear whether the same will be done for the remaining Costco sites with case clusters. Fenstersheib said it's not unusual to have that many employees test positive when each location has something like 300 or 400 employees, but that any workplace with three or more cases prompts immediate action from the county.

Investigations into workplace clusters are a key part of the county's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly businesses and activities that include public contact. Employers are required to follow a step-by-step protocol when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, including reporting it to the county.

A similar string of COVID-19 outbreaks was reported last month at construction sites across the county, with the largest outbreak in Mountain View. Ten people tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 more were potentially exposed to the virus.

As of Thursday, public health investigators have found that the customer areas of the affected Costco locations have fully met the county's health standards. Some changes have been recommended to the employee areas, Fenstersheib said.

Comments

Costco Shopper
Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:29 am
Costco Shopper, Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:29 am
19 people like this

Costco may claim to be enforcing safety protocols, but anyone who shops in those stores knows better. No crowd control, same pushing and shoving, the folks who "sanitize" the carts only sweep the top with a dirty rag, and plenty of folks (including employees) lower their masks so their noses hang out (or remove them entirely) once they're inside.

Stores with counts that high should be required to convert to curbside pickup only. Maybe the county should send in undercover inspectors to observe.


Are there inspectors?
Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:50 am
Are there inspectors?, Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:50 am
8 people like this

Good idea posted above. The government should inspect businesses to see if they are helping contain or spread the coronavirus. But I will believe the county will inspect Costco if and when it does. Meanwhile, consumers should at least STOP GOING TO BUSINESSES LIKE COSTCO.


The Business Man
Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:32 am
The Business Man, Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:32 am
5 people like this

THis is the problem we have been dealing with.

Yes, we have NO inspections, and even if we did the current approach still cannot control COVID.

Imagine this, I have say interactions with 10 people and they have had 10 interactions with 10 others uniquely, that means I have been exposed to as much as 100 channels which COVID can infect me. But if you have 4 steps of separation regarding 10 people interacting with 10 peopled interacting with 10 people interacting with 10 people you no w have 10,000 potential channels of infection.

This is the problem with our current situation, we are not minimizing social exposures yet. The only way to do so is to schedule all resource actions, like going shopping for groceries, and having the people controlled so that there is no unnecessary infection possibilities. Or at the very least have all shopping done so that the products are delivered.

And what are we doing, we are encouraging more interactive potential like even going to an outdoor dining situation. The server could have been exposed to COVID via as many as 10,000 channels, the same goes with the persons sitting near you. And masks and hand cleaning is no insurance that you will not get infected.

The REALITY is if we continue this behavior, COVID infections cannot be stopped or slowed. I was at a Costco about 4 weeks ago, I did make sure me and my friend were wearing a mask, but that simply is still rolling the dice regarding infections

It is time to take this situation far more seriously and now establish some means of providing life supporting services to all of us, that means we should be getting housing, utilities, food, and vital information services provided for free for the time being, and deal with the cost later. This would also apply to the businesses too. No one should be being distressed regarding money at this time. Health TRUMPS money all the time. The Stock Market and the Banks should have been frozen as well.

I know I will get comments from people called He Got It Wrong, and He Embarrassed Himself and others trying to attack me personally, but my warnings I have made over and over again have been becoming reality. This story is a perfect example.

And I wish I had a cure or a vaccine, I would give it away for free because it would save peoples suffering and death and get our lives back to normal.


eric
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:44 am
eric, another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:44 am
9 people like this

My friend works at one of those locations.


Per her - management has not been strictly enforcing temperature checks of employees and pressuring people to work even if ill. she is still waiting on her result. she seems okay no symptoms. but one of the positives is a person that she works with daily.


Crescent Park Mom
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:22 am
Crescent Park Mom, another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:22 am
10 people like this

I am shocked my the number of Costco employees that wear their masks only over their mouths and not their nose. Ive been traveling and been to 4 different Costco’s this month. At a Costco in Folsom three weeks ago, the employees had cut their mask ear loops tied together the strings at the top behind their heads and kept the bottom untied so the mask was flapping in front of their faces. It was really unconscionable.


Neighbor
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:57 pm
Neighbor, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:57 pm
7 people like this

I overheard one of the employees gossiping with another employee while I was there at the Mountain View Costco about 2 weeks ago. I was shocked to hear them state that the Corona Virus was a myth. I was upset in my mind overhearing their conversation but I just listened. Now look what happened to these folks. To make matters worse, this employee was wearing a mask but only over their mouth, exposing their nose. Hello! The whole point of the mask is to prevent you from allowing the virus to enter your body. Breathing in through the nose will do this. SMH!

People need to understand the difference between "Myth" and reality here. Should we go to NYC and dig up those bodies that were buried into the ground due to Covid? The masks are intended to be placed over the entire nose and mouth area. Costco needs to stop being passive and enforce this upon their employees and also to the customers that enter the store as well.


Frequent Costco shopper
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:34 pm
Frequent Costco shopper, another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:34 pm
6 people like this

I shop at the Fremont and Livermore Costco usually and I have seen All employees and Customers wear masks always. The occasional times I go to the San Jose Senter Road Costco, again, everyone wears masks. The stores give some sort of sanitized wipes upon entering at entrance and it seems to me all safety protocols are being observed. Its true it is not as vigilant as in the beginning several months ago when there was a limited amount of customers allowed in each time and there are signs stating masks required but now everyone knows this is the rule and distance is enforced in all the check out lines. People are also very good in the isles to keep their distance. I think Costco is doing a good job adhering to the safety requirements for their employees and customers as I have seen. I shop about twice a week at Costco and also regular supermarkets. People all wear masks at the Costco gas area too. I wear mask and disposable gloves with each shopping excursion. Im glad Costco is open for shopping as it is one of my preferred outings during this pandemic shelter situation. It really is up to everyone to keep it safe for themselves and others and its temporary. If we want to shorten the duration, a little inconvenience now is necessary to get lives back to normal.


Are there inspectors?
Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:25 pm
Are there inspectors?, Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:25 pm
9 people like this

31 Costco employees test positive and some purported "Frequent Costco Shopper" from "another community" posts that all is well at Costco - at least in Fremont and Livermore. Local posters say otherwise about the MV store. The out-of-town post would be funny were the virus spread not so serious.


Ana
Monta Loma
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Ana, Monta Loma
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:22 pm
8 people like this

It all comes down to those who have it already . I believe some of those that are infected simply just don't care about sanitizing and Don't care if they spread it to others. Resulting in more cases of the virus!


MyOpinion
Sylvan Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:41 pm
MyOpinion, Sylvan Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:41 pm
6 people like this

The Costco employees who believe COVID is a myth need to start listening to medical experts and stop getting their medical advice from FOX News and POTUS. July 30, Trump said "Children are at the lowest risk of any age group from the virus" and at the same time, summer camps in Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas have recently had outbreaks. Denial of science by a world leader is criminal not to mention a sign of low intelligence Web Link



[email protected]
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:59 pm
[email protected], another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:59 pm
Like this comment

we can overcome it all together, btw nice information Kindly visit us Stain removal or contact us at (365) 652-3240

Website: Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.