Santa Clara County sees first COVID-19 death

Santa Clara County health officials have announced the county’s first death due to COVID-19.

The victim, an adult woman in her 60s, had been hospitalized for several weeks and was first identified by officials as a positive case on February 28.

“This is a tragic development,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the County’s top health official.

The woman, who passed away at El Camino Hospital, had not traveled to a region of concern and had not been in close contact with an infected person, suggesting she contracted COVID-19 in the community.

Cody noted that the level of the challenge ahead.

“We are facing a historic public health challenge and know this is a very difficult time,” Cody continued.

Recently updated recommendations

Last week, Cody and other county leaders announced new recommendations aimed at reducing potential exposure and community transmission.

Those recommendations included the following changes:

  • 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.

Officials reiterated at that announcement Thursday 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.