Dear Community Partners,
We write to provide our weekly update related to the County of Santa Clara’s COVID-19 response efforts. This week revealed worsening trends, as our community slides deeper into the most difficult period of the pandemic. We continue to see what is becoming a staggering surge in COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday of this week, 1700 new cases were reported. Prior to Thanksgiving, we hadn’t seen a single day with even 600 cases reported. Our 7 day rolling average of cases has now reached 986 cases per day, nearly twice the average from the prior week and much more than triple our previous peak of 269 daily cases back in July. There has never been more COVID-19 circulating in our community than there is right now.
The surge in cases has also translated into a surge in severe illness and hospitalizations. The number of individuals in our county hospitalized with COVID-19 has more than quadrupled in the past month, from 102 hospitalized individuals on November 11th to 446 on December 11th. Similarly, the share of ICU beds occupied by COVID positive patients has jumped from 7% to 28% in this same time period. As of yesterday, our remaining ICU bed capacity stood at 14%, and it dipped as low as 10% earlier this week. Unfortunately, we fully expect the growth in hospitalizations to continue. Over time, roughly 7% of the cases we document become hospitalized. This past week’s escalating case counts mostly haven’t yet hit the hospitals.
The choices we are all making now are going to determine whether any hospital beds and medical staff are available 2 or 3 weeks from now. And, that affects not only individuals who may be more vulnerable to COVID; it affects anyone who might need a hospital bed for any reason, whether due to an accident, a heart condition, influenza, childbirth or any other condition. Our Public Health leaders have been pushing this message for some time. But, it is going to take all of us communicating the urgency of the moment and the importance of exercising extreme caution. Our fate is in everyone’s hands. As community leaders, we ask you to please to help carry that message to the residents and groups with whom you communicate.
Update on Current Health Officer Orders
This past Sunday (Dec. 6th), California’s Regional Stay Home Order was implemented in Santa Clara County and several other Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Marin). Due to dwindling ICU capacity across the state, three other regions – Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Greater Sacramento – representing 36 counties and nearly 31 million residents are also now under the Regional Stay Home Order. The general message of the Order is that individuals should be staying home and avoiding non-essential activities to the greatest extent possible.
Santa Clara County has updated our County FAQ page and all mandatory directives to reflect the current rules in place in our County. There are updated FAQs related to car-based gatherings and events, the mandatory quarantine requirement for travelers, and numerous other topics. The County’s mandatory directive on capacity limitations and the capacity landing page help to summarize whether and to what extent different facilities and businesses can remain open. The State’s FAQ page also provides some helpful information on the Regional Stay Home Order. Note: Since last week, there have been some small changes made to the State’s Order. For example, on Wednesday, the State announced that outdoor playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through exercise. Santa Clara County has aligned with this state change opening outdoor playgrounds.
COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations in Santa Clara County
Over the last seven days, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department announced 23 new deaths among individuals with COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 526 in Santa Clara County. Just under 7,600 new cases were reported this week, a 65% increase in new cases compared with the previous week. The total case count has now reached 45,986. Our 7 day rolling average of new cases (based on specimen collection date) currently stands at 986 cases per day (up from 497 the week prior).
As of yesterday, there were 446 COVID positive patients hospitalized in Santa Clara County (up from 319 last week). Of these hospitalizations, 93 were in the ICU. Currently, COVID positive patients occupy 28% of all ICU beds with an additional 1% occupied by patients under investigation. Non-COVID patients occupy 57% of the ICU, while 14% of beds are currently available. Note: On Tuesday of this past week, ICU bed availability dropped to just 10%. More data can be found through the Public Health Department’s Data Dashboards.
December 8th Report to the Board of Supervisors
On Tuesday, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody and other County leaders provided an update to the Board of Supervisors regarding COVID-19 trends and response efforts. Dr. Cody explained that we have entered the most challenging and worrisome time of the pandemic. She noted we are in the third and by far most significant wave, which is requiring County response efforts to continually adapt and reprioritize work. The rate of growth in cases is still rising, and there aren’t yet indications of case counts leveling off. Dr. Cody shared data on how Santa Clara County trends compare with state and national trends. She emphasized that our County is not an island, and we can only hold the virus off so long before our number start to reflect what is happening around us. She shared some aggregate, anonymized mobility data (provided by SafeGraph) to demonstrate the impact of Thanksgiving. The data show that visits to and from Santa Clara County changed significantly during the holiday. The number of visits to and from surrounding Bay Area counties went down some on Thanksgiving compared with previous weeks. However, visits to and from Southern California rose substantially. Given the higher prevalence of COVID-19 in Southern California, this travel likely contributed to increased spread of the virus.
Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Director of Healthcare System Preparedness, provided an important update, detailing how hospitals in Santa Clara County are nearing capacity and healthcare staffing is stretched thin statewide. One piece of good news is that PPE supplies are very strong. The Board meeting also included an update on the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order, vaccine planning, testing, enforcement, and community health and business engagement (which featured many of the County’s community partners who are leading critical community engagement efforts). You can view the full presentation here. The COVID-19 item begins at 3:47:20.
Also at the December 8th meeting, the Board of Supervisors also took action to direct County Administration to enter negotiations with the California Rebuilding Fund to invest $6 million for a small business loan program specifically serving businesses within Santa Clara County. A final vote on this investment is slated for early January. The Board indicated interest in potentially investing additional dollars later. The Small Business Loan discussion begins at the 7:28:15 mark of the meeting.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
This week did bring some positive news on the COVID-19 vaccine front. On Friday, the FDA granted Pfizer’s request for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for their COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for vaccine distribution to begin in the United States. Santa Clara County has been informed we will receive a little more than 17,000 doses of vaccine this coming week (around December 15th). A second vaccine producer, Moderna, is scheduled to meet with the FDA on December 17th. If their EUA is granted, Santa Clara County expects to received 39,300 doses of Moderna vaccine in our first allotment, which should arrive sometime in late December. Both the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine require an individual to take two doses.
Local Health Departments are not involved in prioritizing the populations who will get the vaccine. Those decisions are made at the federal level and, to a lesser extent, the state level. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is the primary body in charge of prioritizing groups to receive vaccine. So far, ACIP has only set the priority for phase 1A, which includes Healthcare personnel and residents of Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs). The initial allotments of vaccine will only cover a tiny fraction of these populations (in Santa Clara County, we have more than 100,000 healthcare personnel alone). However, we expect to receive an increasing amount of vaccine in the coming weeks and months. The initial allotment coming to the County will be focused on healthcare workers. Walgreens and CVS will be receiving a separate initial allocation directly from the federal government, which is intended for residents of LTCFs.
Dr. Sara Cody and Dr. Marty Fenstersheib provided a detailed presentation on COVID vaccine planning to the Board of Supervisors’ Health and Hospital Committee this past Wednesday. They explained, among other things, that if the vaccine is successful, it will take quite a few months to vaccinate enough residents to begin to see the positive impacts communitywide. Thus, all our existing prevention measures (social distancing, limiting contacts, wearing face coverings, etc.) will need to remain firmly in place for some time. See here to view that presentation. The vaccine item begins at the 33:37 mark.
State Launches CA Notify
This week, California announced the statewide launch of CA Notify, a smartphone application aimed at reducing transmission of COVID-19 through exposure notifications. Californians can opt in to receive notifications if smart phone data indicates they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus Learn more here.
County Testing Locations – Week of December 14th
The community testing program operated by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) continues to offer extensive drop-in and appointment-based COVID-19 testing at several locations across the county. This past week, appointment based testing at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds expanded to 7 days per week and 5,000 test per day capacity on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (all other days of the week still offer up to 3,000 tests). SCVMC’s rotating, appointment-based testing events are now scheduled to continue at least through January and February. See the attached two month calendar of events. As a reminder, these sites can handle up to 750 appointments per day. Residents can book an appointment for the Fairgrounds or the various rotating city sites in Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, or English. In addition to our usual drop-in locations, this week the County will also be conducting drop-in testing at San Ysidro Park in Gilroy on Tuesday and at 1775 Story Road in San José on Friday. See below for this week’s full schedule or visit www.sccfreetest.org for additional information.
Drop-in Testing – Walk-Up:
· Emmanuel Baptist Church: 467 N. White Road, San José, 95127
- Tuesday, December 15 through Friday, December 18 from 11am to 5:30pm
· South County Annex (formerly Del Buono Elementary): 9300 Wren Avenue, Gilroy
- Tuesday, December 15 through Friday, December 18 from 11am to 5:30pm
· San Ysidro Park: 7700 Murray Ave., Gilroy
- Tuesday, December 15 from 1pm to 5:30pm
· Public Health Resource Hub in East San José: 1775 Story Rd., San José, 95122
- Friday, December 18 from 11am to 5:30pm
Appointment-Based Testing – Drive-through/Walk-Up/Bike Access:
· Santa Clara County Fairgrounds – Lot A – 344 Tully Road, San Jose, parking lot across from Gate B and across from the Blue Arch
· Mondays, 7am -3pm
· Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 7am to 6:30pm
· Fridays, 11am to 6:30pm
· Saturdays and Sundays, 9am to 3:30pm
Appointment-Based Testing – Walk-up:
· Sunnyvale, Murphy Park, 260 N. Sunnyvale Ave., Sunnyvale
- Monday, December 14, 9:30am – 4pm
· Mountain View, Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View
- Tuesday, December 15, 9:30am – 4pm
· Cupertino, Cupertino Senior Center, 21251 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino
- Wednesday, December 16, 9:30am – 4pm
· Campbell, Orchard City Banquet Hall (in the Campbell Community Center), 1 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell
- Thursday, December 17, 9:30am – 4pm
· Los Altos, Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos
- Thursday, December 17, 9:30am – 4pm
· Palo Alto, Art Center Auditorium, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto
- Friday, December 18, 9:30am – 4pm
Additional Community-Based and State-Operated Testing Options
Roots Community Health Center and Gardner Health Services continue to organize free, community-based drop-in COVID-19 testing events every Wednesday. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) provides similar community-based testing every Friday at their Story Road site. See below for specific testing locations. No appointments are necessary. In addition, there are 4 free, appointment-based testing sites operated by State contractors, Verily and OptumServe. Verily’s “Project Baseline” testing locations are primarily drive through sites; while the OptumServe sites are walk-up.
- Roots Community Health Center: Antioch Baptist Church parking lot, 268 E. Julian St, San José, 95112. COVID-19 testing offered every Wednesday from 10am to 3pm. For more information or to pre-register see here or call 408-490-4710.
- Gardner Health Services: Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Avenue, San José, 95116. Testing offered every Wednesday from 1pm to 7pm. For more information, call 408-457-7100.
- AACI Health Center: Story Road Clinic: 749 Story Rd, #50, San Jose CA 95122. Testing offered every Friday from 9am-12pm. For more information, call 408-975-2763.
- Verily’s Project Baseline at Independence High School: 617 N. Jackson Ave., San José. Testing offered Monday through Friday from 12pm to 6pm and on Sundays from 9am to 1pm. Click here to schedule an appointment.
- Verily’s Project Baseline at Mount Pleasant High School: 1750 S. White Road, San José. Testing offered Monday through Friday from 12pm to 6pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. Click here to schedule an appointment.
- OptumServe at Gilroy Civic Center: 7351 Church St., Gilroy. Testing offered Friday through Tuesday from 7am to 7pm. Visit here or call (888) 634-1123 to schedule an appointment.
- OptumServe at James Lick High School: 2951 Alum Rock Ave., San José. Testing offered Tuesday through Saturday from 7am to 7pm. Visit here or call (888) 634-1123 to schedule an appointment.
Thank you for your ongoing leadership during these difficult times,
County of Santa Clara Emergency Operations Center