Santa Clara County health officials warn people to stay away from large crowds

The majority of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in the Bay Area so far are in Santa Clara County. On Thursday, health officials took the added step of advising people to stay away from large gatherings. 

At Thursday’s San Jose Sharks game, the official attendance was 14,517 fans, which is close to what the team expected. The spokesman said it’s unclear if attendance was down a bit because of the opponent, the day of the week or coronavirus.

San Jose Sharks fans filed into the SAP Center despite a recommendation from county health officials to avoid large crowds over coronavirus concerns.

“I’m here and I’m not afraid,” said Debbie Lewis of San Jose. “I make sure I wash my hands and keep my hands away from my face.”

The Calvert family wore face masks to the game saying the masks put them more at ease.

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“You can never be too cautious with all the news out there.,” said Jason Calvert of San Jose. “It can be overwhelming sometimes.”

Thursday’s game went on as scheduled. San Jose Sharks team management issued a statement that said in part, “The SAP Center undergoes rigorous cleaning after every event. Many areas will receive additional, enhanced measures throughout the course of events for the foreseeable future.”

“Our cases to date indicate to us the risk of exposure to the virus is increasing,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Hours prior, the Santa Clara County Health Department reported 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases, seven of which may have been community spread.

“We recommend postponing or canceling large events or mass gatherings particularly those where people gather within more closely than arm’s length of one another,” said Dr. Cody.

The San Jose Earthquakes and 49ers have no plans to cancel events. Stanford Athletics is limiting the attendance of sporting events to one third the venue's capacity through April 15.

“It would be financially devastating if we had to close the Cinequest film festival at this point,” said Cinequest Spokeswoman Terry Downing. “This is the only fundraiser they have during the year.”

At Cinequest that draws more than 150,000 people, the shows will go on. Extra hand sanitizer stations in place. Café Stritch hosted a Cinequest party on Thursday. The general manager is worried the economic hit the business could suffer if fears of the coronavirus don't go away.

“All these places, all these businesses play off each other so if any one of them go out, it's going to hurt you,” said Café Stritch General Manager Andrew Saman.