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California

Silicon Valley death toll reaches six as coronavirus continues rapid spread

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Dr. Stuart Malcolm of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic speaks with homeless people about the coronavirus in San Francisco on Tuesday.
(Getty Images)

Silicon Valley, which has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, reported a sixth death on Wednesday with the total number of cases increasing to 175.

Of those who have contracted the virus, 70 are believed to have gotten it through community transmission and 56 are now hospitalized, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Santa Clara County and other parts of the Bay Area have been on shelter-in-place orders. Issued Monday, the directive requires residents to stay home until at least April 7. They may leave their homes only for essential needs, such as visiting grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors and relatives. Officials say the order seeks to prevent COVID-19 from overwhelming the healthcare system in a region that’s home to 7 million people.

In the seven Bay Area counties bound by the order, compliance has been generally strong but uneven in places. Some businesses were uncertain whether they were required to close.

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Palo Alto’s University Avenue was a ghost town on Tuesday. All nonessential shops were closed, and restaurants were empty. Just two people were seen eating lunch, outside a Pizza My Heart.

Businesses and residents are subject to citation for violating the order, but elected officials said law enforcement was much more likely to issue warnings than citations. Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine said, for example, if police there saw a group of 20 construction workers huddled together, they planned to issue a gentle reminder, not a citation.

Still, the threat of a sanction proved effective in some cases.

Janine Hedlund, 37, a hair stylist who works on one client at a time at her shop in Lafayette, texted clients Tuesday that she was canceling their appointments.

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“What if somebody sees me doing hair and then calls the police on me?” she said. “I want to abide by the rules.”

Meanwhile, the San Mateo County Public Health Department on Wednesday morning reported 16 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 81, including one death. Santa Clara County Public Health reported one more death, bringing the county’s total to six, the most in any region of the state. The latest death was a man in his late 60s.

San Joaquin County reported its first two deaths, and the city of Long Beach confirmed two new cases, bringing the city’s total to 10, according to local health officials. That tally does not include a patient at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital who also has tested positive because that person is not a Long Beach resident, a city spokesman said.

California has seen the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise: at least 598 cases and 17 deaths as of Wednesday, compared with 157 cases and three deaths the week prior. Nearly 12,000 people in the state are self-monitoring.

The jump is due largely to a recent increase in testing capacity in the state — and across the nation — and the numbers are expected to continue rising.


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