News

Santa Clara County restaurants, congregations can resume indoor service as COVID-19 cases drop

County loosens restrictions as low positivity rate makes it eligible for state's 'orange' tier

Customers dine inside Sun of Wolf in Palo Alto on Feb. 25. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Restaurants and congregations in Santa Clara County will be able to reopen for indoor service on Wednesday under a revised public health order that loosens many of the restrictions that have been in place since March.

The revised risk-reduction order, which county leaders discussed at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, recognizes the county's recent move into the "orange risk" level — also known as Tier 3 — in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The "moderate" risk level allows more businesses to reopen, albeit with some restrictions to ensure social distancing.

In highlighting the revised order, both county Counsel James Williams and Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody emphasized that some of the activities that will now be allowed for the first time since March continue to pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission. To reduce the threat, the county is requiring restaurants to limit occupancy to 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 people, depending on which number is smaller.

The same restriction will be imposed on other indoor gatherings, including movie theaters, congregations and cultural gatherings, according to the county.

"It's a really important limitation that we put in place to help try to reduce the density, to help try to reduce the risk for the community," Williams said. "And we will be out there with our enforcement team ensuring that."

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The order also allows outdoor activities with up to 200 people, consistent with state guidance, and specifies that there are no capacity limitations for malls and other retail businesses. It will allow college sports activities to resume, though they have to do so without fans and while following specific county protocols that require testing, face coverings and small cohorts. The order will also allow museums and zoos to open at 50% capacity.

The county's ability to loosen business restrictions reflects its recent success in containing the number of COVID-19 cases. The county's case count, Cody said at the Tuesday news conference, is now 3.7 cases per 100,000 residents, below the state's threshold of 4 cases per 100,000 for the orange tier.

The county's overall positivity rate is now 1.7%, well below the state benchmark of between 2% and 4.9% to qualify for the moderate tier. Cody also noted that residents in the county's most disadvantaged quartile have a positivity rate of 3.8%, which meets the state's new "health equity metric" criteria that requires a rate below 5.2% for this quartile.

The promising trends have allowed the county to be the first large county in California to move into the orange tier, Cody said.

"I think what this says is that we have been working extraordinarily hard in our county for a long time," Cody said. "We were a bit stricter for a bit longer than many other jurisdictions, in particular the larger jurisdictions in southern California. And now that is paying off."

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With the revised order, Cody said, the county is "switching from a strategy where we're controlling the environment by keeping a lot closed, to shifting the responsibility to each of us as individuals to do everything that we can to follow the core principles of wearing a mask, staying in a well-ventilated place and keeping a distance."

Williams said all businesses in the county will also be required to submit an updated social-distancing protocol within the next 15 days.

He called the county's move to the orange tier "significant" and said it will be up to residents and businesses, collectively, to adhere to the new safety protocols and ensure that the county doesn't relinquish its recent gains.

"If we fall back for just a couple of weeks, the state will move us back into the red tier," Williams said. "As a community, we've made tremendous progress but it's been slow and hard-fought progress."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Santa Clara County restaurants, congregations can resume indoor service as COVID-19 cases drop

County loosens restrictions as low positivity rate makes it eligible for state's 'orange' tier

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 3:54 pm

Restaurants and congregations in Santa Clara County will be able to reopen for indoor service on Wednesday under a revised public health order that loosens many of the restrictions that have been in place since March.

The revised risk-reduction order, which county leaders discussed at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, recognizes the county's recent move into the "orange risk" level — also known as Tier 3 — in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The "moderate" risk level allows more businesses to reopen, albeit with some restrictions to ensure social distancing.

In highlighting the revised order, both county Counsel James Williams and Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody emphasized that some of the activities that will now be allowed for the first time since March continue to pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission. To reduce the threat, the county is requiring restaurants to limit occupancy to 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 people, depending on which number is smaller.

The same restriction will be imposed on other indoor gatherings, including movie theaters, congregations and cultural gatherings, according to the county.

"It's a really important limitation that we put in place to help try to reduce the density, to help try to reduce the risk for the community," Williams said. "And we will be out there with our enforcement team ensuring that."

The order also allows outdoor activities with up to 200 people, consistent with state guidance, and specifies that there are no capacity limitations for malls and other retail businesses. It will allow college sports activities to resume, though they have to do so without fans and while following specific county protocols that require testing, face coverings and small cohorts. The order will also allow museums and zoos to open at 50% capacity.

The county's ability to loosen business restrictions reflects its recent success in containing the number of COVID-19 cases. The county's case count, Cody said at the Tuesday news conference, is now 3.7 cases per 100,000 residents, below the state's threshold of 4 cases per 100,000 for the orange tier.

The county's overall positivity rate is now 1.7%, well below the state benchmark of between 2% and 4.9% to qualify for the moderate tier. Cody also noted that residents in the county's most disadvantaged quartile have a positivity rate of 3.8%, which meets the state's new "health equity metric" criteria that requires a rate below 5.2% for this quartile.

The promising trends have allowed the county to be the first large county in California to move into the orange tier, Cody said.

"I think what this says is that we have been working extraordinarily hard in our county for a long time," Cody said. "We were a bit stricter for a bit longer than many other jurisdictions, in particular the larger jurisdictions in southern California. And now that is paying off."

With the revised order, Cody said, the county is "switching from a strategy where we're controlling the environment by keeping a lot closed, to shifting the responsibility to each of us as individuals to do everything that we can to follow the core principles of wearing a mask, staying in a well-ventilated place and keeping a distance."

Williams said all businesses in the county will also be required to submit an updated social-distancing protocol within the next 15 days.

He called the county's move to the orange tier "significant" and said it will be up to residents and businesses, collectively, to adhere to the new safety protocols and ensure that the county doesn't relinquish its recent gains.

"If we fall back for just a couple of weeks, the state will move us back into the red tier," Williams said. "As a community, we've made tremendous progress but it's been slow and hard-fought progress."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Facemasks
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2020 at 4:57 pm
Facemasks, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 4:57 pm
24 people like this

Great news! But if we want to stay in orange…

We need enforcement of facemasks in public! There are WAY too many people walking around without facemasks on. Police patrols, please! Fine them the full $500!

It's sad and upsetting, to see people selfishly risk the lives of their neighbors.


Patrick Neschleba
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:05 pm
Patrick Neschleba, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:05 pm
10 people like this

This is welcome news. Absolutely essential that the community take ownership of practicing proper protocols, or else we rebound right back into red.

It goes without saying - but I’ll say it anyway: the further down we can drive this rate as a community, the more people are going to get on board with opening up the schools for on-site instruction. We all own that - not just those of us with kids in the schools. Same goes for getting youth sports going again. Let’s show that we can do this!


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:19 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:19 pm
22 people like this

I for one do want to if possible kill the COVID threat altogether, but that means aggressively isolating any potential infections and doing the population significant testing to establish that the virus was successfully "burned out" by it having no ability to infect new hosts.

But that appears to be off the table. So the next thing is to provide SAFE business practices. Masks, and protective public spaces that prevent the airborne particles from getting to others not infected.

What is scary is that COVID can live as long as 28 days without being disinfected. The disinfection practices are going to have to be aggressive. BUT I do see that it is feasible. My hopes are we do not replay what happened earlier this year.

It would be also strongly anticipated that a log of visitors and their activities on site be recorded for if anyone does test positive the contact tracing can be performed. BUT if that is NOT done, I would be concerned about moving forward. Please refer to the movie CONTAGION.

I have good hopes, but also grim fears.


Free the people
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:44 pm
Free the people, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:44 pm
7 people like this

Web Link

“ Drew said there were several caveats including that the study was conducted with fixed levels of virus that likely represented the peak of a typical infection, and there was an absence of exposure to ultraviolet light, which can rapidly degrade the virus.

Humidity was kept steady at 50 percent, the study said, as increases in humidity have also been found as detrimental to the virus.”


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:28 pm
24 people like this

In response to Free the people you said:

““ Drew said there were several caveats including that the study was conducted with fixed levels of virus that likely represented the peak of a typical infection, and there was an absence of exposure to ultraviolet light, which can rapidly degrade the virus.”

Humidity was kept steady at 50 percent, the study said, as increases in humidity have also been found as detrimental to the virus.””

Here is that problem. The humidity in this area is typically VERY low. We are a “irrigated” desert.

In fact tomorrow we will have lesser than 50% humidity from 12pm to 10pm. And the next day will be 5am to 8pm.

You also know that in air conditioned buildings or forced heat buildings the humidity is significantly low unless humidified.

Please consider this regarding that report? That is all I ask?






OldGuy
Registered user
Whisman Station
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:31 pm
OldGuy, Whisman Station
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:31 pm
21 people like this

Am I the only one who thinks relaxing controls is a bad idea? We were doing ok virus-wise. Now I fear it won't be long before there is another surge, as we have seen in Europe and elsewhere. We should have continued as we were until therapeutics become more widely available, probably early next year. Yes, people are hurting financially, but a proper govermental response could have ameliorated that.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2020 at 11:49 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 11:49 pm
19 people like this

Oldguy,

No, I am in your camp. I am only wanting that if these people want to try to open up they do it right.

I agree it will just explode the cases again.

But too many people out there are going nuts because of being in this situation and are desperate.


Stephen Raillard
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Stephen Raillard, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm
8 people like this

The reason why this will most likely not work for too long is given by the county:
"The county is "switching from a strategy where we're controlling the environment by keeping a lot closed, to shifting the responsibility to each of us as individuals to do everything that we can to follow the core principles of wearing a mask, staying in a well-ventilated place and keeping a distance."
Shifting the responsibility to each of us does not work well and is bound to fail as we have seen in the past and we can see happening in Europe again now. And the challenge is much larger going forward than in the spring and summer given the cooler temperatures in late fall and winter which forces people to gather indoors.
Only with strict enforcement might the approach have a chance, but I did not read that this is planned. I am afraid that we will fall back to the red tier in due course with all the sad consequences, one of them being the schools having to close again.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:06 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:06 pm
3 people like this

WOW, not that Remdisivir has been proven to not work on COVID by scientific research, what will be next snake oil to be marketed to us?

What will the White House have to say about Donald Trumps treatment?

Either he FAKED being sick with COVID and tried to give the false impression he got cured.

OR he is STILL sick and lying about how his treatment worked?


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