New Guidance from the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department For Persons at Higher Risk from COVID-19 - March 3rd, 2020

New Guidance from the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department​
For Persons at Higher Risk from COVID-19 

Two New Confirmed Cases in Santa Clara County

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA—The County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department is providing new guidance to the community to protect persons at higher-risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. The County is also announcing that there are now 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. This adds two additional cases to the nine that were previously confirmed, both of which are still under investigation to determine the source of transmission. At this time, of the total confirmed cases in the county, only two have been determined to be community transmission; four are travel related; three are close contacts to known cases; and the two new cases remain under investigation.

“Due to our almost daily increase in cases, the Public Health Department is issuing new guidance today to protect the health of vulnerable individuals,” said the County’s Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody. “We ask for the public’s help in sharing these new recommendations, staying calm, and following prior guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control.” 

The County of Santa Clara is working closely with a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is onsite with the Public Health Department.

“It is important to remember that, for about 80% of the population, this disease will be mild. While many persons in our community may get sick, the vast majority will recover. The added measures are being used to protect those in our community who are likely at greatest risk for having severe disease,” said Dr. George Han, Deputy Health Officer for the County of Santa Clara.

The County Public Health Department announced the following new guidance:

Guidance for individuals and organizations for protecting persons at higher-risk of serious illness:

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is making the following recommendations for individuals who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.

Who is at higher risk?
Information about risk factors for COVID-19 infection is evolving, but the best evidence currently available makes clear that risk of severe illness begins to increase at age 50 for those who contract COVID-19, and increases with age (i.e., an 80-year-old person is at greater risk than a 70-year-old person). The highest risk group are persons age 80 and over. 

Persons with underlying medical problems also are likely at higher risk for severe disease, including persons with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those who are immunocompromised.

What should I do if I am at higher risk?
The County Public Health Department is recommending that persons at higher risk avoid mass gatherings such as parades, sporting events, and concerts where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another. This would not include typical office environments, grocery stores, or shopping centers, where it is unusual for large numbers of people to be within arm’s length of one another.

I run an organization that primarily serves seniors or medically compromised individuals (e.g. nursing homes). What should I do?
The County Public Health Department is recommending that organizations that primarily serve seniors or medically vulnerable individuals:

  • cancel mass gatherings (e.g., a large bingo gathering, movie screening, etc.);
  • ensure they are extra vigilant in following recommendations regarding cleaning of high touch surfaces, including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables;
  • take all necessary measures to ensure all employees, visitors, and persons served who are experiencing any symptoms of illness stay home and avoid contact with others; and
    • enhance screening of visitors, staff, and residents for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing).

    This is an evolving situation; therefore these recommendations may change and we recommend that individuals and organizations ensure they are watching for new guidance and following that guidance as it is released.

    As a reminder, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all other communicable diseases such as flu, colds, etc., the CDC recommends that all persons follow respiratory hygiene etiquette measures, including:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
      • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and clean your hands.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
      • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
      • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

    Prior Guidance Issued by the Centers for Disease Control

    The new guidance for protecting persons at higher-risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 supplements previous ongoing recommendations from the CDC and local public health officials, which are listed below:

    Personal Protection Recommendations:

    • Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently, especially after you touch common surfaces, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, light switches, countertops, and tables. It is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
    • Always cover your cough.   
    • Stay home if you are sick. 
    • Avoid touching your face because one way viruses spread is when you touch your own mouth, nose or eyes.  If you do need to touch your own mouth, nose or eyes, wash your hands before you do so. 

    Recommendations for Schools: 

    Recommendations for Organizers and Staff Responsible for Planning Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events:

    Recommendations for Businesses: 

    Recommendations for Travelers:
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides current travel notices for international travel to affected countries. Visit:

    If you are returning from international travel, the recommendations are:

    • If you have symptoms, stay home, contact your healthcare provider, and provide your travel history. 
    • If you have traveled to countries experiencing coronavirus outbreak and have no symptoms, you may choose to stay home out of an abundance of caution, but it is not currently mandatory. If you develop symptoms, call your healthcare provider and tell them your symptoms and recent travel history.

    For more information visit:


    News Release


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