Santa Clara County health officials make new coronavirus recommendations

With an announcement Thursday afternoon that coronavirus, COVID-19, is continuing to circulate in the community, and that the threat of infection is rising, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department has made significant new recommendations.

Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, said in a press conference today that there are now 20 known cases of COVID-19 in the county, including a number of individuals who did not have known contacts with other infected individuals and had not recently traveled to impacted areas.

“We are making these recommendations to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from the virus, and slow its spread,” Cody said.

New recommendations

Working in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control, the department made new recommendations for workplaces and businesses:

  • 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.

Additionally, the Health Department recommended postponing or canceling large community events and gatherings, including concerts, sports games, and any event where many people are in attendance and are within arm’s length of each other.

Health officials, including Dr. Cody at a press conference Thursday afternoon, reiterated that those at highest risk are people over 50, increasing with age, and that those who are feeling sick should not go to work or school. They recommend calling a doctor’s office and discussing symptoms over the phone or telehealth options first, before going in to a clinic.

To see the full update on Thursday, March 5, from the Health Department, click here.

Ongoing guidance

The full, ongoing, guidance from the County Health Department is below:

  • Even if you are not ill, avoid visiting hospitals, long-term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you do need to visit one of these facilities, limit your time there and keep 6 feet away from patients and employees of the facility.
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first.
  • Stay home when sick and away from others in your household.
  • Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including washing your hands with soap and water frequently, coughing into a tissue or your elbow, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are at higher risk for serious illness.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (like doorknobs and light switches). Regular household cleaners are effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.