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Community spread likely source for COVID-19 clusters at 4 Costco stores in Santa Clara County

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Early indications point to community spread as the likely source for the clusters of coronavirus at four Costco stores in the South Bay.

Health officials stress that more testing and contact tracing is needed there.

Customers are being told that it’s still safe to shop at Costco.

“I’m not surprised,” Gertrude Irving said.

From behind all the PPE she wears everywhere, Costco shopper Gertrude Irving hadn’t heard about the clusters of COVID-19 in Gilroy and at three other South Bay Costco stores.

“I don’t feel safe anywhere, people think this is a joke but it’s not,” she said. “It’s serious and people are dying.”

Clusters of COVID-19 are reported at Costco stores in Gilroy, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Senter Road in San Jose. 13 cases in Sunnyvale, eight in San Jose, six in Gilroy and four in Mountain View.  

A cluster is three or more cases in a two-week period. 

Testing at the Senter Road Costco suggests the infection came from outside the stores.

“It looks like most of the cases came through their regular day to day activities outside as opposed to getting infected inside or infected each other,” Dr. Marty Fenstersheib with the Santa Clara County Health Department said.

Officials say Costco is in full compliance with safety protocols but at the Sunnyvale Costco, Craig Lee called out his fellow shoppers.

“And as I’m walking out, five people are walking in without masks,” Lee said. “Where the hell are people’s brains?”

“I see the employees wearing masks, I see them wearing gloves and being protected,” a shopper said.

So far, no other Costco stores have reported clusters but officials remind us that front line workers have a higher risk of COVID-19.

“They’re in these retail locations, they have people facing them all the time, we hope everybody is wearing their masks and following social distancing but that doesn’t always occur,” Dr. Fenstersheib said.

While it’s too soon to rule out employee spread of the infection, we are are reminded that three of the four Costcos, except in Sunnyvale, are in COVID-19 hotspots. 

Whether it’s Costco or anywhere, keep your guard up says a well prepared Gertrude Irving.

“You don’t know were it’s at, people are asymptomatic, you really don’t know who has it and who doesn’t have it,” Irving said.

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