‘We cannot be stupid about this, but we can at least start. Santa Clara simply isn’t with the program.’
On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody warned that California is reopening too quickly and could possibly bring back a resurgence of cases later in the year.
Concern over having a 100 person gathering limit
Dr. Cody, who helped build the country’s first county-wide stay-at-home order and was instrumental in helping other counties build their stay-at-home plans, noted that Governor Gavin Newsom’s plans allowed for too many people to be together at once. In particular she noticed that California’s limit of 100 people for religious and cultural events was too high, especially compared to New Jersey’s limit of 25 people and New York’s 10 person limit.
“This announcement to authorize county health officers to allow religious, cultural and political gatherings of 100 people poses a very serious risk of the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Cody on Tuesday. “The pace at which the state has made these modifications is concerning to me.”
Dr. Cody stressed that two to three weeks were needed after each step of reopening to see what the health impacts would be.
“The state modifications are being made without a real understanding of the consequences of what the last move has been, and with the possible serious effects for health and possible serious risks or an exponential growth in cases,” added Dr. Cody in her announcement.
Santa Clara County is facing pressure to have a wider and quicker reopening process following California moving on to Phase 3 of it’s reopening plan, Los Angeles County announcing that it is reopening, and nearby San Francisco County expanding restaurant reopenings. Other high population counties, such as San Diego, Orange, and Sacramento, have also been reopening more and more.
However, a slowing coronavirus rate in counties across California is calling into question her concern.
Comparable states reopening with even higher gathering limits than California
“There’s no doubt that we should all remain cautious and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Victor Ibarra, a Los Angeles area doctor who has assisted with coronavirus cases. “But we’re seeing improvements. We shouldn’t go maskless on beaches just yet, but we’ve reached the point that, as long as people take precautions, we can begin to bring back some businesses and things to do.”
“Santa Clara is less populated than Los Angeles County, and they should consider the actions of comparable states. New York isn’t, but states like Texas, Ohio, and Florida are, as they have many large population centers mixed with large swaths of rural or agricultural area. And look what they’re doing. Ohio is allowing gatherings of 300. Texas has no limits as long as social distancing and other precautions are met.”
“We cannot be stupid about this, but we can at least start. Santa Clara simply isn’t with the program.”
Santa Clara County has not, as of Wednesday, allowed more re-openings or approved of larger gatherings. Dr. Cody made Santa Clara County the first to ban large events and gatherings and is projected to be one of the last to allow them.
While there is evidence that Santa Clara County’s measures have worked in preventing cases, such as the number of cases in the county being much lower than most Southern California counties and even neighboring counties such as Alameda, growing economic worry in the county has put more pressure on the Santa Clara County Public Health Department for a green light to reopen.
Dr. Cody didn’t rule this out as a near-future possibility on Tuesday saying “If our overall rate of transmission remains stable, we will be able to continue to ease our restrictions and safely reopen activities on a regular cadence with at least an incubation period between each phase.” But she also halted any talk of an immediate reopening due to the heath risks.
“”Every county is different,” added Dr. Ibarra. “Every county has different factors. But Santa Clara is being passed by every other major county in the state in terms of reopening. Health-wise that’s fine, but if we’re talking about economic recovery, then that’s a bit of a gamble.”