SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County health officials announced Thursday that six more patients within the county have tested positive for the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus and asked Silicon Valley tech firms to cancel all non-essential business travel.

James Williams, the acting director of the county’s emergency operations center, said the number of county residents who now have been diagnosed with the illness has risen to 20 — by far the most in any one county in the state. As a state, California now has more then 60 confirmed cases.

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Santa Clara announced a local medical emergency related to the outbreak on Feb. 3rd. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide state of emergency on Wednesday.

The six new cases are three men and three women. Four of the new patients were under home quarantine, the others were hospitalized. No other details were released.

Williams said of 20 confirmed cases in the county, four were travel related, nine were in contact with other coronavirus patients and seven were acquired within the community.

“Of the 20 cases,” Williams said. “One has recovered, but many are home with very mild or no symptoms of the illness at all.”

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Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officers, said her office was issuing new recommendations in light of the growing number of cases.

“As we test more people, we are finding more cases,” she said. “We will continue to find more cases and we expected the case numbers to increase in the days to come. Our cases to date, indicate to us, the risk of exposure to the virus in our community is increasing.”

Raw Video: Santa Clara County Coronavirus Developments – Press Conference

The new recommendations, Cody said, were meant to slow the spread of the disease and to protect those most vulnerable to infection and severe illness.

“The recommendations we are making today will have a tremendous impact on the lives of people living in our community,” Cody said. “But these are very important.”

Employers should take steps to make it more feasible for their employees to work in ways that minimize close contact with large numbers of people.

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Employers should:

  • Suspend nonessential employee travel
  • Minimize the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another, including minimizing or canceling large in-person meetings and conferences.
  • Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
  • Not require a doctor’s note for employees that are sick as healthcare offices may be very busy and unable to provide that documentation right away.
    Consider use of telecommuting options for appropriate employees.
  • Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.

New Guidance for Persons Hosting Mass Gatherings and Large Community Events

At this time, we recommend postponing or canceling mass gatherings and large community events where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another. If you can’t avoid bringing groups of people together:

  • Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
  • Encourage those who are at higher risk for serious illness to not attend.
  • Try to find ways to give people more physical space so that they aren’t in close contact as much as possible.
  • Encourage attendees to follow increased hygiene, such as — Washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used in a pinch
  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Covering their cough or sneeze with a tissue – if available – or into their elbow
  • Clean surfaces with standard cleaners.

The San Jose Sharks announced that Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild at the SAP Center would be held as scheduled, but that team officials would evaluate further upcoming events in the days ahead.

“SAP Center undergoes a rigorous cleaning procedure after each and every event, with particular attention paid to high-traffic, high public-contact areas,” a statement issued by the team read. “Many areas will receive additional, enhanced measures throughout the course of events for the foreseeable future.”

Attendees at the game were strongly advised to follow the county health department’s recommendations for persons at higher risk to avoid large gatherings.

The San Jose Earthquakes also issued a statement via the team’s Twitter account, saying that the team was working with county health officials, local agencies, the CDC and MLS officials regarding Saturday’s scheduled game against Minnesota United FC.

Several tech firms have already been cancelling events and travel. Facebook cancelled a couple key conferences and Google announced Tuesday that it plans to cancel its upcoming I/O developers conference in May due to concerns about the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Apple and Netflix joined social media mainstays Facebook and Twitter in citing coronavirus fears for cancelling plans to send its employees to and take part in the annual lifestyle, tech, entertainment and music festival — South by Southwest — in Austin later this month.

According to Daily Variety, Netflix has cancelled five film screenings and a panel for #BlackExcellence. The streaming company had planned to screen five films including feature film “Uncorked,” and four documentaries: “A Secret Love,” “L.A. Originals,” “Mucho Mucho Amor” “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.”

Apple, meanwhile, also has cancelled plans to debut three Apple TV+ originals at the Austin gathering.

In an Tuesday appearance on CBSN Bay Area, CNET Senior Editor Claire Reilly said both Facebook and Twitter considered the risks posed by travel and large gatherings during the current coronavirus outbreak and decided to cancel their plans.

“Companies are beginning to realize this isn’t a problem in just one part of the world,” Reilly said. “They are doing something to make sure their staff is safe and that they are not making the problem worse. We’ve seen both Twitter and Facebook pull out of the South By Southwest conference in Austin.”

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“This (SXSW) is kind of an advertising, cultural, rock music — it’s where all the cool people go I’m told. But what we seen them (Facebook and Twitter) do is (determine) that it’s not worth risking their employees safety.”