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Stanford University undergraduate has the coronavirus, sparking new restrictions

Stanford University at sunset.
The sun sets on the Stanford campus.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

A Stanford University undergraduate tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting more actions on campus.

“This student is now self-isolating. Our teams are currently doing contact tracing and are working to inform and provide guidance to all close contacts of the individual as soon as possible,” Stanford said in a statement.

The university already went to online classes last week. Now, the university said it was taking more actions to restrict those who remain on campus. A big concern is dining halls for students, which the university said is “fundamentally incompatible with the concept of social distancing.”

At dining halls, students “will be given pre-filled to-go containers and bottled or canned drinks. Students will then need to leave the dining hall and eat outdoors, in their dorm room or elsewhere. There will be limitations on the numbers of students allowed in the serving area at any one time.”

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Calling the coronavirus outbreak “one of the most historic public health challenges of our time,” the health officer for Silicon Valley has issued a new aggressive ban on public gatherings — restricting gatherings of 35 or more unless organizers warn attendees that it poses a heightened risk of infection and banning all public and private gatherings of 100 or more.

The order also recommended all gatherings be canceled.

With the coronavirus spreading fast and hitting Silicon Valley hard, the order by Santa Clara County health officer Dr. Sara Cody was the most stringent ban on public gatherings across California. Santa Clara County is the worst hit county across the state, reporting two deaths.

The county superintendent of schools also ordered the closure of public schools in Santa Clara County beginning March 16 through April 3.

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“Based on these data and patterns of disease that we see around the world, we know that the outbreak of COVID-19 in our county will accelerate. And we anticipate many, many more cases in the days and weeks to come,” the health officer said.

“These measures are designed to slow the spread of disease and preserve critical health-care capacity and other essential services,” Cody said.

The order will likely have a dramatic effect on restaurants, theaters and bars.

A gathering is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, restaurant, theater, bar or any other confined indoor or outdoor space, Cody said.

There are five requirements that hosts of public and private gatherings between 35 and 100 people must comply with:

  • Keep attendees at least 6 feet from each other
  • Make soap and water available for attendees to wash their hands, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • People hosting gatherings must alert prospective attendees 24 hours before that the events post a heightened risk of coronavirus transmission, and older adults and those with health conditions are at serious risk and should not attend
  • For ticketed events, hosts must allow prospective attendees to cancel their attendance at no charge and refund them
  • Hosts must clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes and other standard cleaners.

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