Santa Clara Co. officials urge public to avoid Lunar New Year gatherings

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As COVID-19 casts a shadow over the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, health officials in Santa Clara County are urging the public to resist any temptation to gather in groups.

"We saw a spike after Thanksgiving, we saw a spike after Christmas, and we do not want to see a spike after Lunar New Year," said Betty Duong, a spokesperson with the Santa Clara County Emergency Operations Center, during a press conference outside Grand Century Mall Wednesday morning.

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San Jose is home to the largest Vietnamese population within a city outside the country of Vietnam. In fact, 10% of the city's population is Vietnamese, and the majority of them will be celebrating the Lunar New Year in some form or fashion starting on Friday. That's why county officials are teaming up with various community groups to help educate the public about the ongoing dangers associated with COVID-19.

"We really cannot afford to have another surge," said Dr. Phuong Nguyen, chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals and Clinics. "What we're asking the community to do is to be the first line of defense. Help us stop it so that you don't have to see us."

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Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now say face coverings should be doubled up to help protect against new coronavirus variants. In addition, outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than three households at a time.

"We must continue doing all that we've been doing to protect our families, and our communities, and ourselves from the devastating effects of COVID-19," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

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