Coronavirus Updates, March 24, 2020: Silicon Valley Wraps Up Week One of the Lockdown

Scroll from the bottom up to read in chronological order. And click here to catch up on the rest of our coronavirus coverage. 

4:58pm: More cases, more deaths. 

Three more people have died from COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, bringing the death toll up to 16. Local health officials did not immediately provide information about the deceased’s ages or whether they had a pre-existing condition.

The health department also reported an additional 54 cases in the county. 375 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the end of January, however, local officials expect that the actual number of cases is much higher. County Executive Jeff Smith estimated there’s between 7,000 and 10,000 cases locally, while San Jose Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness stated at a Tuesday afternoon city council meeting that the number could range anywhere from 9,000 to 19,000 cases.

County health officials hope to get a better idea of how far the virus has spread as private testing conducted by groups like Verily, Quest and Stanford ramps up. Beginning at midnight on March 25, private testing sites in Santa Clara County and six neighboring jurisdictions are required to report out the number of tests conducted—not just positive results. As of Sunday, the county had only conducted 647 tests at its own labs.

4:12pm: SJPD is on patrol.  

San Jose police officers have given warnings to more than 200 businesses that have continued to operate despite the local and statewide order to shelter in place. Police Chief Eddie Garcia gave an update on the force’s educational approach at Tuesday afternoon’s city council meeting. While some businesses have had to close, a number of trades such as banks, grocery stores and take-out only restaurants are allowed to continue operating since they’ve been deemed “essential” by local health officers.

Here’s a list of some of the 210 businesses they’ve shut down so far:

  • 25 smoke shops
  • 22 hair salons
  • 22 dine-in restaurants
  • 7 barber shops
  • 7 gyms
  • 4 flower shops
  • 4 clothing stores
  • 3 churches
  • 2 repair shops
  • 2 sporting good stores
  • 1 video game store
  • 1 billiards hall
  • 1 gun store
  • 1 recycling center
  • 1 furniture store
  • 1 flea market
  • 1 car wash
  • 1 music store
  • 1 computer store
  • 1 window tint shop
  • 1 mattress store
  • 1 party store
  • 1 large group gathering

Starting this week, SJPD will be stepping up enforcement and revisiting all of the previously warned businesses. If they’re still open, Garcia says they may be hit with criminal citations, licensing sanctions or health code violations.

San Jose’s top cop also added that his officers will not make any car or pedestrian stops. However, they have spent time educating park-goers playing basketball or picnicking out on the grass.

“Some parks that we’re seeing throughout the city look like it was a mid-summer day with people going out to parks,” Garcia said. “I understand the messaging that we sent in regards to exercise is important, but ultimately if we truly want to help our officers try to help enforce this, we’re going to need some help in some of these areas.”

2:25pm: Supes take action.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved $3 million for COVID-19 relief during its virtual teleconference meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The first $2 million will go to Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s regional response fund, which will aid in the launch of a financial assistance program to help residents feeling the economic impacts of the coronavirus. The fund, which was announced yesterday, has already garnered $11 million in support from nonprofits and businesses.

The remaining $1 million will go to SVCF’s nonprofit support fund. Nonprofits have felt the ripple effects of the coronavirus over the last few weeks as volunteers cancel and more people look for assistance as they lose out on work hours and wages. The money will help nonprofits with items like increased janitorial costs to deep clean facilities, rent payments and telecommuting expenses.

“We are continuing to work to identify additional financial assistance for these essential services to ensure that they remain during the COVID-19 crisis,” Supervisor Cortese said in a news release. “It is certainly an important and significant amount of money that signals our commitment to the nonprofits and community-based organizations that serve our community.”

The board also unanimously approved an eviction moratorium to protect renters who’ve lost their income as non-essential businesses shut down. The moratorium will expire May 31, 2020 unless it’s cut short or extended by the board of supervisors.

1:21pm: Another deputy falls ill. 

A fourth Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy has tested positive for COVID-19. Sgt. Michael Low said the officer was assigned to the Custody Bureau and is now under quarantine at home.

Yesterday, the Sheriff’s Office announced that three of its deputies tested positive. One was assigned to patrol and the other two were stationed in the jails. Two of those deputies are currently isolating at home while the other is in stable condition at a local hospital.

1:15pm: Here comes week two.

It’s officially been a week since most Bay Area residents retreated to their homes and non-essential businesses shuttered their doors.

The rest of the state has been on lockdown since March 20, and for many, the stay-at-home order that was issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus feels like it will never end. Beaches, parks and trails are being shut down across the state as residents disobey the mandate and refuse to practice social distancing.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom had a stern message for those wannabe weekend staycationers: “It’s time to grow up.”

The truth is, we don’t know how long this will last. The projections have ranged anywhere from a handful of weeks to 18 months. But what we do know is that the more people who take this seriously and stay at home, the slower the virus will spread.

No one is immune to this. Not marathon runners. Not 20-year-olds. Not even the 12-year-old girl in Georgia who is currently hooked up to a ventilator.

We’re in it for the long haul folks, so buckle up, find a good book and please please please stay at home as much as you possibly can.

As always, you can direct tips or story ideas related to the coronavirus to me at [email protected] or to my editor Jennifer Wadsworth at [email protected].

Grace Hase

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

4 Comments

  1. 11M for rent, ha

    maybe 25% of it, 75% will go to programs and services

    or over educated, woke, children of neolibs

  2. Keep up the good work, ladies. We’re looking to you to keep us informed on what’s going on locally. Serious thank you.

  3. Can you please post side by side the numbers of deaths from the influenza virus and other contagious disease fatalities next to these numbers, so we can see in perspective how bad this is?

    Out of almost 2 million County residents (not counting illegals), there have been 16 deaths so far. This virus may kill ten times, or a hundred times, or a thousand times as many people before it peaks and goes away. Who knows?

    But one thing we can know is how serious it is compared with other killer viruses. Like, for example, the flu. Then we can decisde how much we should panic.

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