Coronavirus: Cases Reported in Santa Clara County
Palo Alto has been closely tracking and monitoring the emerging infectious disease known as Coronavirus and local developments continue to evolve. As of March 11, there are 48 coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County. There is one case in Palo Alto because of a Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System (a federal agency) hospital transfer from another County in California to Palo Alto. This case is unique and not related to a community spread of the virus. Instead, this case is a contained hospital transfer of an infected veteran from one hospital to another. The patient is not a resident of Palo Alto. The ambulance transfer was not by our local Palo Alto Fire Department.
The County announced new guidance designed to reduce the spread of the virus in our community. The recent announcement reinforced current guidance recommending those persons at higher risk of severe illness, including persons over 80 years of age, people with underlying health conditions and those with severely weakened immune systems, to stay home and away from crowded social gatherings of people such as parades, sporting events, and concerts where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another. They expanded the guidance on Friday to define large events as over 1,000 people.
Other County guidance included details for workplaces and businesses to make it more feasible for employees to work in ways that minimize close contact with large numbers of people. The County Public Health Department is not recommending closing schools at this time. If a staff member or student in a specific school confirmed to have COVID-19, the Public Health Department will consider, based on the specific facts and circumstances of that case, whether closure of that school is warranted. They are not recommending school closures at this time because children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities.
Guidance to Employers
- Suspend nonessential employee travel.
- Minimize the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another, including minimizing or canceling large in-person meetings and conferences.
- Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
- Not require a doctor’s note for employees that are sick as healthcare offices may be very busy and unable to provide that documentation right away.
- Consider use of telecommuting options for appropriate employees.
- Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.
Guidance for Persons Hosting Mass Gatherings and Large Community Events
County guidance to event organizers who cannot avoid bringing large groups of people together includes:
- Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
- Encourage those who are at higher risk for serious illness to not attend.
- Try to find ways to give people more physical space so that they aren’t in close contact as much as possible.
- Encourage attendees to follow increased hygiene, such as:
- Washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used in a pinch
- Avoid close contact with other people
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Covering their cough or sneeze with a tissue - if available - or into their elbow
- Clean surfaces with standard cleaners.
For the full news announcement including guidance for schools and other details, go here.
The City of Palo Alto has a dedicated webpage on this issue. Go to cityofpaloalto.org/Coronavirus for more.
Last Updated: March 8, 2020