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Santa Clara County officials see increase in hotline calls for health order violations

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Cracking down on coronavirus health orders. Bay Area counties and residents making public health top priority.

As coronavirus cases climb across the Bay Area, officials with Santa Clara County are being flooded with calls about people violating health orders. 

Trying to understand ever-changing health orders can be frustrating but actually enforcing them, is proving to be a challenge in itself. 

Compared with the number of complaints, relatively few people have been cited but it’s clear that a lot of people are ignoring the rules until they get a call or visit from the team trying to enforce those orders. 

“We’re getting calls from the community, they are our best eyes and ears right now,” Angela Alvarado said.

Santa Clara County Deputy D.A. Angela Alvarado heads up a team investigating complaints about businesses and people, as they cope with a worsening public health crisis, allegedly in violation of county health orders.

“People might say, how did you know we were having a block party?  Well, because your neighbors are very concerned that you are posing a health risk,” Alvarado said.

As of Tuesday, the hotline has received 9,700 complaints leading to 50 citations.

Complaints are mostly about private parties, religious gatherings, retail, bars, restaurants, hair and nail salons.

“Sometimes we see a situation where a nightclub looks like it’s closed and then magically at ten o’clock, like Cinderella, there’s a line. We see people gathering and somebody says what’s going on here,” Alvarado said.

Investigators have visited at least a thousand businesses and as you might guess, many of the complaints center around masks or the lack of them.  

“People not wearing their masks correctly, people having their mask hanging off their ears or restaurants not proving masks to their employees,” Alvarado said.

Aided by law enforcement in some cases, many complaints are the result of confusion about the latest case numbers and the ever changing health orders.  

Most are resolved through outreach and education.

“We’ve had so many complaints from people who want to know how to proceed…i’m a salon owner, how can i do this safely,” Alvarado said.

The email hotline is pubhealthreferral@dao.sccgov.org.

Although 50 citations have been issued, none has resulted in charges so far.

“Once the businesses or the house or the people are contacted they say okay we understand, we’ll comply,” Alvarado said.

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