Coronavirus Precautions: Santa Clara County cancels mass gatherings, officials say virus spreading too quickly

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County's public health officials and local leaders stood shoulder to shoulder at a press conference Monday night, as they announced an unprecedented ban on public gatherings with 1,000 or more people, effective midnight, Wednesday, March 11, until the end of the month.

"We are clearly facing a historic public health challenge and we know this is a very difficult time," said Dr. Sara Cody, a public health officer for Santa Clara County.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Santa Clara County: Health department confirms 1st Bay Area death from COVID-19

Santa Clara County has the most COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area at 43 with one fatality, announced Monday morning. It was a woman in her 60s with pre-existing conditions. The county's public health officials say the jump to 43 from 11 in 5 days and the likelihood that nearly half are from community transmission was the tipping point.

"I have issued a legal order banning events with more than 1,000 people in attendance," said Dr. Cody, "Because our emerging data tells us that we have more extensive community spread than was apparent to us even five days ago, we must take more action to slow the spread of disease and to protect the public."

The legally binding order under state law will be enforced by the Sheriff's office and all police departments in the county.

Santa Clara county is a destination for events in the Bay Area with numerous stadiums, arenas, convention and civic centers.

In statement a spokesperson for SAP CENTER said, "We will adhere to the mandated guidelines. No events are scheduled at SAP Center until Tues., March 17. We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days."

The San Jose Sharks went ahead with a game last week despite recommendations from Santa Clara County public health to cancel the event.

The San Jose Earthquakes also issued a statement saying they will be complying with the ban.

The order does not include airports, malls or other spaces where 1,000 or more people might be transiting at any given time.

However, the county has enhanced its guidelines and recommendations to encourage more people to stay away from public areas when possible, especially if you're at risk or to practice social distancing at the workplace.

"We need to make sure that we're putting the needs of the community above ourselves and each of us individually because we are truly in this together," said Santa Clara County supervisor Cindy Chavez.

"These are trying days and the days ahead are going to be trying days for everyone in our community," said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Chavez and Liccardo were both present at the news conference.

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