SANTA CLARA (CBS SF/AP) — As they have begun rolling back tough COVID-19 restrictions, Santa Clara health officials say they are carefully monitoring a ‘worrisome’ number of new cases within the county.
Their warning came on a day when the state Department of Public Health recorded more than 5,000 new cases, putting the total number of positive cases at more than 183,000. The state has seen more than 5,500 deaths related to COVID-19.
The record-setting numbers and warnings come as more businesses reopen statewide, spurred by antsy residents weary over stay-at-home and social distancing orders. San Francisco, which was part of the Bay Area’s strict order in mid-March, plans to allow outdoor bars, nail and hair salons and tattoo shops to open next week.
Health officers say they always expected case numbers to creep up as the economy reopens, but they worry the trend may be getting out of hand.
“The question of how we’re doing as a nation is: We’re not doing so well. How are we doing as a state? Not doing so well. How are we doing as a region? Not doing so well,” said Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith.
Smith told the Santa Clara County Board Of Supervisors that one widely cited model projects 15,000 Californians could die by October 1.
Santa Clara County recorded the earliest known coronavirus-related death in the country in February and served as an early virus hot spot.
The stay-home order flattened the curve of new infections, said Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, but “worrisome” signs indicate the increase is accelerating.
She said the county recorded its second-highest number of new daily cases to the state Tuesday, with more cases cropping up at workplaces, including construction sites and food processing centers.
“We’ve said before that COVID-19 is like a wildfire. If you contain it when it’s small you can keep it under control, but once COVID transmissions begin to accelerate, it is very, very difficult to contain and to slow down and I think that’s what we’re seeing in many parts of the country,” she said.
The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in California has inched up each of the past several days and now is nearly 3,900, the highest rate since Gov. Gavin Newsom followed the lead of the Bay Area and ordered Californians to stay home in mid-March.