Santa Clara County, local schools take additional precautionary measures as COVID-19 countywide case count reaches 66


Eric Fang

The TV screen in downstairs Shah displays tips on staying healthy during the coronavirus outbreak.

by Eric Fang and Srinath Somasundaram

In addition to all four Harker campuses, dozens of schools across the Bay Area are suspending classes and extracurricular events, as Santa Clara County and California public health officials limited the size of gatherings to reduce community spread of COVID-19. 

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) required the cancellation of mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people for the next three weeks, after the county reported its first and only death, a woman in her 60s, on Monday. Currently, 66 people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“In consultation with the Centers for Disease Control, we developed the order and recommendations based on the rising number of cases in our County and the importance of taking these actions now to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” SCCPHD said in a press release

Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced in a press release yesterday that all gatherings of 250 or more people across the state should be canceled or postponed until at least the end of March. 

According to the SCCPHD, mass gatherings do not include day-to-day operations at airports, shopping malls and other areas where large numbers may be in transit at one time. 

In a list of recommendations released Monday, SCCPHD encouraged schools not to close, since children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for COVD-19. In the case that a student or staff member contracts COVID-19, the SCCPHD will determine whether or not the suspension of classes is warranted. 

Many Bay Area schools have suspended classes and extracurricular activities to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In an update released by the superintendent, Palo Alto Unified School District, which includes Henry M. Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School, canceled all field trips, assemblies, and open houses. Prom for both schools has been postponed until a solution can be found for ensuring the participants’ safety. 

In a letter issued by Archdiocese Superintendent of Schools Pamela Lyons on Tuesday afternoon, Lyons announced that all 90 of its Catholic schools in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties would close for two weeks after a student tested positive for COVID-19. 

Other schools in the Bay Area, including Pinewood School, Presentation High School, Mission Preparatory School, School of the Epiphany, Notre Dame High School, Serra High School, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, ICA Cristo Rey Academy, Lowell High School, Menlo School, Black Pine School, Mid-Peninsula High, Verde Elementary and Presidio Hill School, have  temporarily suspended classes in light of COVID-19’s spread. 

In response to COVID-19, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio officials have issued the first three statewide closures of all schools in their respective states.

The SCCPHD recommends for individuals at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness to stay home as much as possible and avoid travel on cruises and airlines. High risk individuals include those with underlying health conditions and adults over 50. 

The general public is encouraged to not visit hospitals, care facilities or nursing homes where high risk individuals may be residing, and to practice good hygiene by washing hands frequently, coughing into the elbow and avoiding touching the eyes, face or mouth. 

The CDC recommends that only health workers and people showing symptoms of COVID-19 wear facemasks. The SCCPHD advises people who have fever, cough or trouble breathing to stay home and call their doctor before visiting a medical setting. 

The California Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance have ordered health insurance companies to forgo all out-of-pocket costs for all preventative screening and testing for COVID-19, helping those with private or public insurance seek testing. 

As of today, the Centers for Disease Control reports 1,215 total cases in the United States with 36 deaths. Globally, the CDC records 125,048 cases with 4,613 deaths.