State reverses course, approves County’s new health plan – takes effect July 13

After a confusing period for county leaders and businesses wondering if they’ll be able to open, the state approved Santa Clara County’s new health order for the next phase of life in the COVID-19 era.

The plan, announced July 2, shifts from industry-specific language to a risk reduction plan. State officials denied that plan on Sunday, to the shock of local health officials, before reversing Tuesday.

“It makes no sense,” County CEO Jeff Smith told the Mercury News over the weekend.

Tuesday morning, the state posted the county’s variance application to its website, a signal of approval.

Many more businesses, if they meet social distancing and occupancy-space requirements can open. The new order takes effect Monday, July 13.

In addition to personal care services, including hair and nail salons, the state’s approval should provide clarity on outdoor dining. While many local restaurants have had outdoor dining in recent days, state officials cited several south county establishments Saturday.

The new order does not allow ‘high-risk’ businesses to open, including indoor bars, indoor dining, and amusement parks.

While Santa Clara County has seen a rise in cases and hospitalizations, it has recently fared better than neighboring counties. As of July 6, 88 people were hospitalized in the county with COVID-19. That is up from 56 on June 23.

Notably, the county’s 7-day rolling average for test positivity rate is 2.24%, well below other state hotspots.

To see more data on COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, click here.