Coronavirus: Santa Clara County issues new restrictions on gatherings, public schools closures due to COVID-19

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With COVID-19 cases expected to climb in the days to come, Santa Clara County officials have adopted aggressive measures to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order to ban public or private gatherings of more than 100 people for the next three weeks, starting Saturday.

"We believe these actions are necessary to protect the well-being of our community during one of the most historic public health challenges of our time," said Cody.

Gatherings of 35 to 100 people are also to be halted immediately unless certain conditions are met to reduce the likelihood of transmission at those events. This includes arenas, theaters, restaurants, bars or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. However, airports, offices, transit, classrooms, medical facilities and retail environments are exempt from the order.

"They have to make these decisions based on limited information about COVID-19, and with limited time, because the time to act is now," said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.

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The Santa Clara County Office of Education is closing all public schools to students for the next three weeks. The decision was made in collaboration with superintendents countywide.

"Students and community members should adhere to the social distancing guidelines and avoid congregating in public places," said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools.

The goal is to provide schools with the time they need to put plans in place to comply with public health guidance.

"I'm asking people in our community to be responsive because we all know this is the right thing to do," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Alum Rock Union School District Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer says staff members will work through the weekend to prepare take-home instructional materials for students.

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Complimentary lunches will also be available for students to pick up every weekday during the shutdown.

"We are going to take this opportunity to deep clean every one of our schools to make sure that everyone knows everything is safe in our sites," said Bauer.

"I do urge our community to work with the community-based organizations that are already mobilizing to create some respite for childcare in formal ways."

The county hopes to be able to reopen public schools by Monday, April 6.

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