Santa Clara County public health officials announced new restrictions on Friday to curb the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county. The restrictions and worsening public health outlook could impact Stanford’s plan to bring frosh and sophomores to campus in the winter.
The county will enter the state’s “red” tier on Tuesday amid a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, county Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody ’85 announced at a news conference. Starting on Tuesday, indoor dining will be prohibited and indoor entertainment centers will be required to close. Fitness centers will have to limit capacity to 10% while retail stores must reduce maximum occupancy by 50%.
362 individuals in the county tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday with 110 patients hospitalized, an increase from an average of 80 patients hospitalized daily in October, according to Cody.
Despite rising cases and hospitalizations in the county, Stanford is proceeding with plans to provide on-campus housing to first-year, sophomores and transfer students for the winter quarter, which begins on Jan. 11. On Monday, Provost Persis Drell announced Stanford was moving forward with its plans, citing low prevalence rates of COVID-19 on campus.
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda told The Daily that Stanford is “continuing to monitor the county’s risk level and will adjust campus protocols as we learn more about what is required.”
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to be prepared to tighten or loosen our safeguards as needed based on public health conditions,” Miranda wrote, reiterating that any changes made to the University’s approach to the winter quarter will be communicated to students prior to Stanford’s winter close on Dec. 14.
Cody said that given the direction the county is currently headed, it is likely that Santa Clara County will enter the purple tier, which imposes the most severe restrictions, in the next several weeks. “Similar to in March, when we had a rapid increase in cases, we may be needing to take additional restrictions quickly,” Cody said.
Throughout the fall quarter, Stanford has required students living on campus to be tested weekly. As of Nov. 9, the University reported a student COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.09%, with a total of 50 positive tests among students. Santa Clara County’s positivity rate is 2.81% and the state’s positivity rate is 4.89%.
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez called Friday’s announcement “a call to action,” noting that the reopening of schools, which plan to open in January or this spring, could be hampered by rising community transmission and hospitalization.