Effective Friday (June 5), in-store retail, outdoor dining, all manufacturing, small service businesses, child care and summer programs, and religious, cultural and civic activities will be allowed to resume operating under an amended version of Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order.
County health experts said in a press release issued Monday (June 1) that due to progress made in flattening the curve of the spread of the coronavirus, outdoor dining and in-store shopping at retail locations will resume with limitations and social-distancing guidelines. House cleaning and similar services, which require in-home contact, and certain low-contact businesses like shoe repair shops, also will be permitted to reopen.
Children can return to child care and participate in summer camps, summer school and all other educational and recreational arrangements, as long as groups are limited to 12 kids or fewer. Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are now permitted for religious services and cultural ceremonies.
Recreational facilities that do not include contact and honor social-distancing protocols, like swimming pools, can reopen. Car-based gatherings, including drive-in theaters, are now permitted.
The announcement, a joint statement from Bay Area health officers who have united since March to track how the virus has circulated in the region, details their plan to work together in the future. Only “measured, careful” steps will be carried out, they said, backed by science. Each new business and activity that reopens will be studied for a “sufficient time” before a decision is made on how to proceed, according to the health officers.
County health experts functioning out of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department Emergency Operations Center will continue to monitor the five key COVID-19 indicators – the total number of cases; the emergency capacity of hospitals; the number of COVID-19 tests being administered daily; the resources behind case investigation, contact tracing and isolation; and how readily available personal protective equipment is – to ensure people can safely isolate and prevent infections.
Testing is steadily increasing, and positive tests results are steadily decreasing, even in communities where people are at the highest risk, county representatives said in the release. Rates of COVID-19 throughout the county remain low, as do hospitalization rates and outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities, which have been contained. The county’s case investigation and contact tracing task force – comprising employees and volunteers – continues to grow and “stay ahead of the demand,” the release stated.
The virus in the face of activism
Although progress has been made, a new layer of concern was added to the global pandemic when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck as his fellow officers watched for eight minutes before Floyd died May 25, prompting protests throughout the country – including in Mountain View. Some protests have remained peaceful, while the provocations of one or few have turned others into violent riots.
“As residents of the county exercise this right, we respectfully remind everyone that our community is still facing a health crisis as COVID-19 is still present,” county health officials said Monday morning, adding people should wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart when possible. “We encourage those who have been in close contact with others at large gatherings to take the opportunity to get tested for COVID-19 within three to five days of exposure and to watch for any symptoms of COVID-19.”
County health officer Dr. Sara Cody spoke of how people of color have been unjustly affected by COVID-19, a trend that has become visible throughout the nation.
“As a community and as a nation, we are experiencing some of the most difficult and challenging times many of us have ever experienced,” Cody said. “The COVID-19 virus has had an impact on every aspect of our lives. It has been particularly devastating to low-income communities and communities of color in our county and across our state and nation. This has been compounded by structural inequities that exist in our society that are unjust, persistent, and damaging.”
For more information on the amended order, visit bit.ly/2XlC8fe.
To make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19, an option available to both symptomatic and asymptomatic residents, visit sccfreetest.org.