Coronavirus impact: COVID-19 restrictions limit relief from excessive heat in the South Bay

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- COVID-19 restrictions are offering little relief to those looking to cool off in the South Bay.

This week will bring temperatures in the mid-to-high 90's across the region.

Usually, the hot weather alone would bring families to the fountain at Plaza de César Chávez. However, on Monday, like most days now, Downtown San Jose sat silent.

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Water wasn't shooting from the ground, and families were searching elsewhere for shade.

"It's hot! Definitely not dry, but definitely not too humid," San Jose resident, Christopher Rios explained.

Monday's heat moved many to the edge of uncomfortable.

The National Weather Service predicts moderate to potentially high heat risk for vulnerable populations. This includes those spending lots of time outdoors, without air-conditioning, the elderly, children and others with chronic ailments.

Rios said in years past, he and his family have been able to hide from the heat.

"We'll go to the library, we'll go for a walk in the mall- get something to eat," he told ABC7 News. "And usually head back out before the evening."

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However, libraries are off-limits, mall access is heavily modified and swimming pools are closed because of COVID-19.

Usual cooling centers across the city are also shuttered as shelter-in-place orders remain.

"All of our community centers are closed because of the shelter-in-place order that does not allow social gatherings," Carolina Camarena with the City of San Jose's Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services said. "Under normal circumstances, some of our community centers would open, and would act as cooling centers. That trigger there is 97-degrees."

There's no word yet on whether the extreme heat will force officials to explore that option. Although Camarena explained most cooling centers, while activated, see between three to five visitors at maximum.

This week brings the first heat wave of the season, what long-time San Jose resident Christopher Citti has learned to live with.

"I don't think it's really challenging. I think that when you get it, you just have to deal with it," Citti explained. "But it sure would be nice if we had swimming pools and things to go to."

Dozens spent Memorial Day at the city's Municipal Rose Garden. Many stayed out of the direct sunlight during the dangerously hot day.

"You could see the people in the park. Which, there's not as many as normal, but it's pretty shaded out here," Citti said. "So, it's okay."

While ABC7 News works to learn what options for cooling are being made available, Santa Clara County offers the following heat safety measures:

  • Drink plenty of water and beverages containing electrolytes even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar because they will speed up fluid loss.

  • Limit physical activity: Avoid physical activity during the hottest time of the day-10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed, parked car.

  • Cool off by taking a bath or shower: Cool, plain water baths or moist towels work best.

  • Wear cool clothing: Lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing can help you keep cool. Cotton clothes are good because they let sweat evaporate.

  • Do not bundle babies: Babies do not handle heat well because their sweat glands are not fully developed. Do not put them in blankets or heavy clothing.

  • Cover your head: Wear a wide-brimmed, vented hat or use an umbrella when outdoors because your head absorbs heat easily.

  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen: Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when outdoors.

  • Rest often in shady areas: Find shady places to cool down when outdoors.

  • Check on family, friends, or neighbors often, using phone calls, FaceTime or Zoom for social distancing.

  • People taking medications should take extra precautions to stay out of the heat as certain drugs such as stimulants can increase body core temperature, and with expected hot weather this week, may predispose individuals to hyperthermia.

Camarena added, "What we do recommend is for people to stay indoors, in a shaded area, and not to go outside or into the parks when it's too hot in the day. That they drink plenty of water, and that they minimize any strenuous activities or exercise."

For the full release by the County of Santa Clara, click here.

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