Santa Clara County declares local emergency over coronavirus, but what does that mean?


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – The coronavirus outbreak has also led to the declaration of a local emergency in Santa Clara County but what exactly doesn’t that mean?

The emergency declaration does not mean any increase in risk to residents of Santa Clara County.  

Quite the opposite, it’s meant to reassure them that health authorities are ready should evidence surface that the virus is spreading.

Board of Supervisors Chair Cindy Chavez said the declaration of a local emergency essentially does two things.

“First, we’re very transparent with the public about what the emergency is and what we can do about it, and then the second is to make sure that any money that we spend on these initiatives so that we can spend if the emergency requires it and be repaid by the state and federal government,” Chavez said.

Despite two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county, there is no evidence the virus is spreading.  

On Monday, county health officer Dr. Sara Cody told supervisors the risk to the public remains low.  

The emergency declaration does not change that but will help health care providers be better prepared if more virus is detected, says Chavez.

“We’re training people, we’re making sure folks have the appropriate gear so if they do find someone whose sick, that they can protect themselves. We’re making sure that if we identify someone whose sick that we have a safe way to handle them so other people aren’t affected,” Chavez said.

In both cases of confirmed coronavirus, the two infected people, a man and woman both had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.  

The declaration also opens the door for the county to access mutual aid resources from other jurisdictions and will undergo a review later this month says the board chair.

“The health and hospital committee will take another look at our response so that we make sure we’re doing our optimal in terms of responding,” Chavez said.

This emergency declaration was first declared back on February 3.

The supervisor’s action this week entends that by 30 days to March 11.

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