Santa Clara County Bans All Gatherings of 1000+ People After Coronavirus Death
The County of Santa Clara's Public Health Department today issued a mandatory order that requires all mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people in Santa Clara County to be canceled.
Santa Clara County includes cities like Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, and it is the county where Apple's two main campuses are located along with many of its satellite offices.
Last week, county officials issued guidelines suggesting that companies in the area minimize or cancel large in-person meetings and conferences, but the new ban is a requirement that will prevent any major gatherings.
The ban takes effect at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on March 11 and for now, will last for three weeks. Santa Clara County is putting the ban in place as it waits for more widespread testing and for more details on how COVID-19 spreads.
"This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. The strong measures we are taking today are designed to slow the spread of disease," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. "Today's order and new recommendations will reduce the number of people who develop severe illness and will help prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. This is critically important for anyone with healthcare needs, not just those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19."
The three-week ban will only last until the beginning of April, but ahead of when the mandatory ban was in place, tech companies had already started canceling events. Both Facebook and Google have canceled planned developer events set to take place in May that would have had around 5,000 attendees.
Apple still has not made any announcements about WWDC, which is typically held in June at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, and the length of this ban will not affect June plans, but with the growing number of coronavirus cases in the county, Apple may cancel the event as a precaution.
Apple could still provide WWDC content in a digital format with online presentations for media and developers, but it's not entirely clear what the company's plan is at this time. We should be hearing soon, as Apple normally announces WWDC info right around this time in March.
The county's decision to blanket ban all events of 1,000 or more people comes as Santa Clara County experienced its first death due to the coronavirus. Santa Clara County has a total of 43 known COVID-19 cases, with more in other counties in the Bay Area.
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That difference is the disparate degrees to which humans have acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and various influenza viruses.
The reader's digest version is this. The typical seasonal flu is, to some degree, self-containing. Plus we're able to offer flu shots which help to contain it further. Many humans have had various versions of the seasonal flu and thus have acquired immunity to those versions - i.e., their bodies recognize the antigens of the various influenza viruses and can produce the antibodies needed to fight them. Those influenza viruses mutate, but the antigenic changes typically only amount to what is referred to as drift. The antigens change only a little and are thus often still recognized by the bodies of people who have acquired immunity to that strain of influenza virus.
Over time the mutations can accumulate such that the changes to the antigens of the influenza viruses make them unrecognized even to the bodies of people who have immunity to that strain. It depends on a number of factors, to include how long it's been since someone had that version of the flu and how long it's been since they had a flu vaccine and what viruses were in that vaccine.
But the big picture point is, a lot of humans have some degree of immunity to some of the strains of influenza viruses. This effectively reduces the R0 of those viruses and slows or constrains their spread. Acquired immunity throws up roadblocks to its retransmission. So we see outbreaks of the seasonal flu, but we typically don't see it spread to the majority of the population of the planet. Because of previous infections and vaccines it isn't able to. There's also the effects of warmer weather which effectively arrests its spread every year. We don't know whether that will happen with SARS-CoV-2.
Sometimes an influenza virus mutates dramatically, by means I won't get lost in here, such that it experiences what is referred to as antigenic shift rather than antigenic drift. When that happens, the acquired immunity that people have isn't really helpful. The antigens have changed so much that people's bodies can't recognize them and produce the antibodies needed to fight them. When this happens the seasonal flu becomes something different, something that's able to spread further and - if it's virulent enough - kill many millions of people. The Spanish Flu may have killed a hundred million people in the years following WWI, at a time when there were only 2 billion people on the planet.
COVID-19 is more like the Spanish Flu than the typical seasonal flu. Very few humans have acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2. So, unlike the influenza strains which cause the typical seasonal flu, it could spread like wildfire to most all humans on the planet. It may also, as it appears now, cause mortality at a higher rate than the typical seasonal flu.
We aren't concerned about COVID-19 and taking drastic actions in response to it because we know for certain that it will spread around the world and cause tens of millions of deaths. Rather, we should be concerned about it because there's a real chance that it could do those things. Maybe it won't, but unlike the typical seasonal flu it could. If it were to spread to half the population of the planet (which is quite plausible), and even if its mortality rate only ends up being 1%, that would mean 40 million deaths caused by it.
On one hand we could take the position... Let's not make these significant changes in the way we go about our daily lives because this virus is already on the loose and we aren't going to be able to contain it anyway. So let's just let it run its course and get on with our lives. But there are a number of problems with that tack. For one, who wants to be among the 10 or 100 million who die? Or among the 100 million or billion who are close to those who die? And what happens to health care systems? We just don't have the infrastructure to deal with the kinds of numbers of sick people which the virus could cause. How many hosptial beds are there in the U.S., about a million?
Or we could take the position... We should significantly alter the way we go about our daily lives for a while so that we can slow its spread and buy ourselves time to develop a vaccine. That way we might save a large portion of the planet from getting it and save 5 or 20 or 100 million lives.
At any rate, COVID-19 is different from the seasonal flu in important ways - i.e., the lack of widespread acquired immunity, the potentially higher mortality rate, the unknowns to include whether summer will suppress its spread. Those differences make it reasonable to be concerned about COVID-19 to a greater degree than, and take actions in response to it which go above and beyond, that which we are and do for the seasonal flu.
Groups of individuals will still have to come together to set the damn event up–can’t all be done remotely and can’t all be done without physical interaction with groups of people.
H1N1 had a death rate of 0.01-0.08% (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic)
People are worried that Coronavirus has a death rate 25x to 200x higher. Maybe it's not quite that high but it seems higher. So that means if it infects the same number of people as H1N1 in the US alone that means 450,000 to 3,600,000 deaths.
the entire country of Italy is on quarantine because of this possibility (and that their health care resources are stretched as is). Is that irrational? Or is it a reasonable precaution to try to prevent a ton of deaths?
Many people tried to minimise, it is not going to kill me, you die only if you are old, etc.
Now the entire country is in a partial lockdown, you can still go to work but if the situation doesn't improve we'll face even worse restrictions. No more weddings, no more funerals. A friend of mine lost her father and wasn't even able to see him at the hospital, she said goodbye on the phone and now he is buried, that's it. Think about that, I'm sure everyone has a grandfather, an old uncle or a family member with some medical conditions. If you get the virus, they will.
The first known patient is finally starting to recover, after 2 weeks in hospital, and he is 38. The majority of death are in elderly people, but just yesterday a 18 old guy was taken to the hospital in serious conditions.
Hospitals are full of people, they opened a military one to civilians and they're going to use hotels to put people in quarantine.
The problem is you have corona virus, but you have other patients. There are going to be less car accidents as people stay at home, but strokes still happen, so you have the usual casualties plus the corona virus. Doctors and paramedics are working around the clock, some of them haven't seen their families since the beginning of the crisis, the government just hired hundreds of new nurses to face the crisis.
Experts called for restricting measures in February and people laughed at them, but they were right.
The economic loss will be huge for us, but the more we wait for a lockdown the worst will be.
Other EU countries and the USA can learn from our mistakes. Place be considerate, avoid crowded places, clean your hands and if you're sick don't leave home. Some people need to go to work, but who can do his job from home should be fully remote for a few weeks.
Sorry for the long post, but I read comments of people who haven't understood how serious the situation is and they reminded me of people in Italy a couple of weeks ago.