Santa Clara County sees 'alarming spikes' in cases at homeless shelters, nursing homes

Photo of Michael Williams

Health officials in Santa Clara County said they were seeing “alarming spikes” in COVID-19 cases at facilities housing some of the area’s most vulnerable populations, including homeless shelters and nursing homes, warning residents that efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus are “not enough” without the community’s cooperation in wearing masks and staying home.

The warning on Thursday came as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new regional stay-at-home orders that would be tied to ICU capacity. Newsom said the Bay Area might meet the threshold of an ICU capacity under 15% as soon as the middle of the month.

The uptick includes “significant outbreaks” at two San Jose nursing homes; Amberwood Gardens, a 258-bed nursing facility, reported with 151 total — 81 among residents and 70 among staff, according to health officials. Skyline Healthcare Center reported 86 total positive cases — 66 among residents, 20 among staff.

Neither facility immediately responded to messages seeking comment Thursday.

The spikes in Santa Clara County also include the Boccardo Reception Center, an emergency homeless shelter in San Jose, which has reported 60 total cases since Nov. 23 — four of them staff members, the rest clients. Another San Jose shelter, South Hall, reported seven total cases.

Officials said there had been “relatively few” cases reported among unhoused populations since March, but the uptick began in late November, coinciding with spiking rates in the rest of the county.

Intakes at those shelters have been suspended, county officials said. Those who tested positive have been placed in hotel rooms.

“Given the extremely vulnerable health status of these residents, the county is devoting extensive resources to controlling these outbreaks,” the alert said, “but it is not enough without substantial efforts by every community member to do their part to reduce transmission by wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and avoiding contact with people outside their household.”

Santa Clara County reported 753 new cases, 67 new hospitalizations and nine new deaths Wednesday, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Michael Williams is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: michael.williams@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @michaeldamianw