COVID-19: Does Santa Clara County’s large event ban go far enough?

On Wednesday, the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force singled out Santa Clara County and said gatherings should be limited to 250 people. It comes as a legally-binding order prohibiting events with 1,000 people is now in effect.

County officials said 12 members of the CDC are with them at the county's emergency operations center and they're following their guidance and direction. 

At Calvary Church in Los Gatos, the pastor plans to deliver his message of worship on Sunday. For the first time in the church's 72-year history, it will be to an empty auditorium and in front of a camera. Services won’t be open to the public but live-streamed instead. 

“This is a way for people to stay in their home and enjoy the service, the whole service, the full message, the whole thing and be a place of containment as well,” said Pastor Mark Riggins.

Until April 1, church grounds are closed. There will be no communion and no collection of money at a time when the church is in the Lenten season and preparing for Easter. 

“It is an unprecedented step,” said Riggins. “They don't teach this in seminary.”

The church is ahead of the county's current mandate of gatherings not to exceed more than 1,000 people. The White House’s Coronavirus Task Force is advising Santa Clara County limit it even more to 250 people for 30 days.

“I don't think anybody knows what the right number is and because of that, if you are at high risk do not attend public events,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez.

Chavez said county health officials are continually reassessing that number and have yet to assess the federal government's reasoning.

“We really are doing our level best to let science guide our decisions at a local level,” said Chavez.

To date, there are 48 cases of coronavirus in Santa Clara County. Many of them are community transmitted.

In three counties in Washington, there’s a ban of 250 people that was put in place Wednesday. In Contra Costa County, there is a recommendation to cancel gatherings of 50 or more people.

Nonprofit business association the Silicon Valley Organization, said even though small businesses are hurting financially, they support a lower number.

“This is a moving target,” said Matt Mahood of the Silicon Valley Organization. “We are still learning about Covid-19, how its transmitted, how quickly it transmits and getting more aggressive is the best way to protect the public health.”