by Esther Sun
Fears of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 swept Santa Clara County in the past month, driving many schools to switch to online classes and workplaces to send their employees to work from home as county health officials released updated recommendations on how to slow the spread.
As of Sat., Mar. 14, the total number of confirmed cases in Santa Clara County reached 114 – the most of any county in the Bay Area. Officials reported the first coronavirus-related death on Monday, Mar. 9, which was that of a woman in her 60s who had been hospitalized for several weeks prior to her passing. Since then, one more person has died from the virus.
Hours after the public announcement of the death, Santa Clara County declared a mandatory order requiring the cancellation of all large gatherings with more than 1,000 attendees, exempting airports, malls, and schools. The ban will remain in place for three weeks starting from Mar. 11 as the county works to battle the spread of the coronavirus and will affect, among other gatherings, major upcoming sports events like the San Jose Sharks hockey games. Since then, the county has revised the ban to cancel gatherings with more than 100 people. Major Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Facebook, and Salesforce have closed their doors to employees, forcing them to work from home if possible.
Schools have responded to the local coronavirus spread in widely-varying capacities. Following the release of coronavirus-related recommendations by the Santa Clara Public Health Department, LGHS canceled the annual Sadies Hawkins dance that had been scheduled for Fri., Mar. 6, sparking an outcry from the student body. Local universities including San Jose State University and Stanford University have made all classes remote. Sacramento’s Elk Grove Unified School District, the largest district in northern California and fifth largest in the state, canceled classes for a week that will replace its traditional spring break in April.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced on Fri., Mar. 13, that all public schools in the county will close for three weeks. The following Monday, the Santa Clara County and five other Bay Area counties announced the strictest public health measure in the country: a “shelter-in-place” order that closes virtually all businesses and requires residents to stay at home for the next three weeks.
Local fears of the coronavirus have also fueled racism towards people of Asian descent. In early March, UC Berkeley’s Department of Health Services published an informational post about managing fears of COVID-19 that listed “xenophobia: fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about those feelings” as a normal and common reaction. The department deleted the post after receiving backlash from the community.
(Sources: Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Menlo School, SF Gate, KRON4, NBC Bay Area, LA Times)