Catch up on our current Coronavirus LIVE BLOG here.
6:45 p.m. April 22: Santa Clara sees rise in illegal dumping
Santa Clara officials said Wednesday that the city is getting “increased reports” of residents leaving things like mattresses and other bulky household wares on public streets.
The dumping comes at about the time that the city would normally host its Annual Cleanup Campaign, though that’s been cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the regional and statewide stay-home orders.
“(City) staff is continuing to evaluate whether the four-week program can be rescheduled for August or September this year,” officials said in an email Wednesday.
City officials are encouraging people to report illegal dumping to the Department of Public works at 408-615-3080, on Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling 408-615-5580 after 4 p.m. and on weekends.
6:40 p.m. April 22: Bored at home? Check out a (virtual) show
Santa Clara officials on Wednesday promoted a slew of free or low-cost online shows and concerts for South Bay residents.
“Consider donating to these arts and cultural organizations, which are facing financial impacts from the coronavirus pandemic,” officials added.
Among the shows and concerts:
- City Lights Theater Company is hosting the world premiere of “Coded,” a show written and directed by Kirsten Brandt, about female game designers. Viewing is free, but the company is asking for donations.
- The Hammer Theater is partnering with National Theatre At Home to stream family-friendly titles for free with a post-screening webinar hosted by San Jose State University faculty to discuss the films on Sundays at 4 p.m. Take a peek at the titles available this week.
- Magical Bridge Foundation will live-stream family-friendly entertainment, including music and other performances, daily at noon on its Facebook page.
- Opera San Jose is streaming a performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo. Watch the stream for free through May 18.
- San Jose Jazz is hosting a “Live From Home” series, with 30-minute concerts on San Jose Jazz’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. A donation link will be set up for each live stream. All proceeds go to the artists.
- Teatro Visión is streaming a series of videos from January’s performance of “Luz: A Shadow Play Inspired by Senior Stories” by Cristal González Avila. Watch for free on their YouTube channel.
- TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is offering rental or purchase options of its musical version of “Pride and Prejudice.” The show can be rented for $4.99 or purchased for $19.99 at www.streamingmusicals.com.
6:30 p.m. April 22: Google designs and donates 49,000 face shields
Google has donated 49,000 face shields that were designed and assembled by its employees to Valley Medical Center Foundation, the organizations announced Wednesday.
The Mountain View-based tech titan worked with physicians and nurses at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals and Clinics to design and develop the shields. Google “was able to tap its global supply chain,” to get materials like clear plastic, foam and elastic that are increasingly difficult to find during the coronavirus pandemic as protective equipment remains in high demand and short supply.
“Bottom line, these face shields will help save lives,” Chris Wilder, Valley Medical Center Foundation’s CEO said in a statement Wednesday. “We need to keep the people on the front line of the crisis safe and Google’s donation is helping us do just that.”
A slew of Silicon Valley-based companies, faith and community organizations, students and others have donated more than 2 million items of personal protective equipment — known as PPE — for medical personnel in the South Bay, Valley Medical Center Foundation officials said.
The most recent donation by Google will be coordinated by the Santa Clara County Emergency Operations Center.
6 p.m. April 22: Newsom starts loosening stay-home restrictions
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced the state’s first step in loosening the restrictive stay-at-home order that has shut down businesses, schools and kept residents inside except for specific tasks.
Hospitals that were once barred from pushing forward so-called elective surgeries, or procedures that could wait, can begin doing those operations again, Newsom said Wednesday during a news conference.
“These are surgeries that, yes, are scheduled, but also are essential: tumors, heart valves,” Newsom said. “If it is delayed, it becomes ultimately denied; if it is delayed, it becomes acute and that fundamentally is a health issue beyond just the issue of the virus.”
The move comes after state, county and city officials have worked for the past month to prepare for a potential surge in coronavirus patients by increasing hospital capacity and setting up temporary hospitals in places like convention centers and defunct sports arenas.
Now, as coronavirus-related hospitalization rates begin to stabilize, state leaders say it’s time to allow Californians to get other health care needs met. But officials warned that if rates of infection begin to rise again, they may pull back on that decision.
“We will be thoughtful and judicious about how we do that,” Newsom said of loosening the restrictions. “We will not overload the system at the peril of not being able to maintain our surge capacity and (we) recognize any time we begin to toggle back and start beginning to open things up, we have to look every day at the data.”
1:15 p.m. April 22: Black residents dying at higher rates, Latinxs overrepresented
Black residents in Santa Clara County are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 than all other groups, according to county Public Health Department figures released Wednesday. Latinxs, meanwhile, are overrepresented in the county’s cases and deaths from the novel coronavirus.
At just 2% of Santa Clara County’s total population, Black residents accounted for 2% of COVID-19 cases. However, Black people made up 6% of county deaths — the highest death rate of any group. Latinxs were nearly 36% of cases and 32% of deaths, despite comprising 27% of the county. Still, about 17% of cases currently have unknown racial or ethnic data, which could alter figures.
County officials recognized social determinants, such as structural racism, employment and income, may affect severity of novel coronavirus cases between groups.
“We are committed to providing the public with accurate and timely information that can be used to inform public action to protect residents and patients,” Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement. “The Public Health Department has a long-standing commitment to advancing racial and health equity grounded in partnership with community leaders and members.”
The numbers come as several regions reported disproportionate numbers of black people, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Latinos get COVID-19 and die. Congress has similarly requested data on racial and ethnic breakdowns across the U.S.
As of April 21, here is the racial and ethnic breakdown of the 1,962 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county:
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 22.5%
- African American/Black: 2.0%
- Hispanic/Latinx: 35.9%
- White, Non-Hispanic: 18.9%
- Other: 3.9%
- Unknown: 16.7%
11:45 a.m. April 22: Santa Clara County had “iceberg of cases” earlier than thought
The spread of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County occurred far earlier than health officials previously thought, after earlier deaths in February and March revealed the region now has the United States’ earliest known case of the novel coronavirus.
The county identified three deaths from COVID-19: a 57-year-old woman on Feb. 6, a 69-year-old man on Feb. 17 and a 70-year-old man on March 6, according to Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody in a briefing Wednesday. None had known travel histories and are presumed as contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 from within the community.
Officials previously believed the first local case of community transmission occurred in late February and the first COVID-19 death was March 9. Meanwhile, the county’s Feb. 6 death was more than three weeks before the first known death in the U.S. on Feb. 29.
Cody said the new deaths reveal “iceberg tips” showing a far larger degree of community spread of COVID-19.
“When you have an outcome like death or ICU, that means that there’s some iceberg of cases of unknown size that underlie those iceberg tips,” Cody said. “With three of them, that tells us that there must have been a somewhat significant degree of community transmission.”
Lack of COVID-19 testing and a long influenza season may have obscured results. The county’s three earlier deaths came when testing was only available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restricted only to people with known travel histories or those who sought care for specific symptoms. For the new deaths identified Tuesday, the county Medical-Examiner Coroner had performed their autopsies and sent tissue samples to the CDC for testing, which returned results showing the three had the virus.
“Community transmission had arrived much earlier than we were able to detect it,” Cody said. “And I think it really highlights the importance of the shelter in place (order) and protecting the community, and preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.”
Update From The Health Officer
County of Santa Clara Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody addresses the three deaths announced last night and talks about race and ethnicity of confirmed COVID-19 cases.Full Transcript: https://pastebin.com/14rhrKzF
Posted by County of Santa Clara Public Health Department on Wednesday, April 22, 2020
10 p.m. April 21: Santa Clara County identifies earlier COVID-19 deaths, believed to be first in U.S.
Santa Clara County officials on Tuesday identified three people who died from COVID-19 before the county’s original first confirmed death on March 9. One of the deaths, on Feb. 6, is now the first known death associated with COVID-19 in the U.S., more than three weeks before Washington state had its first death.
After the county Medical Examiner-Coroner performed autopsies on two people who died at home on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, their samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing, officials said in a news release. Results released Tuesday showed both tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. In addition, officials identified a third person who died at home on March 6.
Previously, Washington state officials said the first death in the U.S. occurred Feb. 29 in the Seattle area. Before Tuesday’s announcement, Santa Clara County officials had determined the first local COVID-19-related death, on March 9, was of a woman in her 60s.
But the county’s three earlier deaths came when testing was only available through the CDC. “Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms,” officials said. “As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified.”
7:40 p.m. April 21: County supervisors waive penalties on late property taxes
Santa Clara County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously waived penalties on property tax paid late amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board of Supervisors waived the 10% penalty and $20 fee for payment that kicks in after the April 10 deadline. Under state tax law, counties can forego penalties for circumstances beyond taxpayers’ control.
Additionally, the measure directs county officials to publicize payment options available, including Santa Clara County’s partial payment of property taxes. The board’s actions also asks staff to find other ways to reduce payment penalties, such as potentially reducing interest charged on properties that fall into default.
The waivers come after the U.S. Department of Treasury delayed Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. But property taxes, which are used for schools and local governments, can’t be delayed, according to a memo from the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors.
5 p.m. April 21: Legal and financial help for small businesses
San Jose officials plan to host a free webinar Thursday for small businesses seeking COVID-19 relief from aid such as the federal Payroll Protection Program and Small Business Administration grants and loans. The event is open to companies, nonprofits, independent contractors and sole proprietors.
The business-planning nonprofit, Start Small Think Big, will assist with legal, financial and operational challenges, city officials said. An attorney will answer questions live, too.
The city webinar, hosted by the Office of Economic Development, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday. Register here for the webinar and visit the public library website for upcoming workshops.
2:30 p.m. April 21: Silicon Valley economic recovery group adds 10 members
The working group tasked with reopening Silicon Valley’s economy after the novel coronavirus outbreak added 10 new members who have backgrounds in education, labor, philanthropy, business and affordable housing, according to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s office on Tuesday.
The advisory council — launched Thursday with five co-chairs from business, labor and nonprofit sectors — is meant to map out economic recovery and bring back 200,000 jobs lost in Santa Clara County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, the group will include about 30 members.
Here are the 10 new additions announced Tuesday: San Jose State President Mary Papazian; Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavien; Santa Clara University President Fr. Kevin O’Brien; San Jose Evergreen Community College District Chancellor Byron D. Clift Breland; Northern California labor leader Oscar de la Torre; Jesus Flores, head of the Latino Business Foundation and Alum Rock Business District; Mike Fox, CEO of Goodwill of Silicon Valley; Chuck Hammers, Pizza My Heart owner and former San Jose Downtown Association president; Eden Housing President Linda Mandolini; and Hermelinda Sapien, CEO of the Center for Employment Training.
“Together, the members of this council will explore new ways to safely revitalize our regional economy and help our residents recover,” Liccardo said in a statement.
11:25 a.m. April 21: Skilled nursing facilities with COVID-19 cases
In Santa Clara County, three skilled nursing facilities — Canyon Springs, Cedar Crest and Valley House Rehabilitation Center — each reported more than 50 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, according to preliminary state public health data. The state figures come as county public health numbers show a third of the dead in Santa Clara County come from long-term care facilities, which tend to serve elderly residents.
California Department of Public Health data showed 258 of the state’s 1,224 skilled nursing facilities had a resident or health care worker who contracted the novel coronavirus. State data didn’t provide exact figures for nursing facilities with less than 11 cases for either residents or staff. In Santa Clara County, 11 nursing facilities were accounted by the state, though local health officials have identified 19 nursing facilities.
The county’s nursing facilities, mostly concentrated in San Jose, accounted for most of the cases and deaths in long-term care facilities. As of Monday, county officials reported long-term care facilities had 28 deaths and 348 total cases, with skilled nursing facilities having the vast majority of those deaths and cases — 26 and 323, respectively. Collectively, long-term care facilities made up about a third of the county’s deaths and 18% of cases.
While publicly available county data doesn’t include names of local facilities with cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state plans to release case data on adult and senior care facilities, including deaths.
10 a.m. April 21: Bishops ask Newsom to increase aid to undocumented, low-wage workers
California’s Catholic bishops have asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to increase aid to undocumented and low-wage workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, after the state unveiled $125 million in disaster relief assistance for undocumented immigrants. In a letter to Newsom on Monday, bishops said more aid was necessary “because the virus doesn’t know the difference between someone who has the right legal documents and those who do not,” according to the California Catholic Conference, the policymaking arm for the church statewide.
Undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for state or federal benefits but can apply for the $125 million fund in May. The new assistance is intended to provide about 150,000 people with one-time benefits of $500 per adult and a $1,000 cap on households.
Bishops requested Newsom expand programs like disability insurance to unemployed workers and permanently expand low- and moderate-income tax credits to immigrants who file taxes without social security numbers. They also asked the governor for $1,200 to all who qualified for tax credits and immigrant tax filers who met tax credit thresholds.
Additionally, the top diocese officials called on Newsom to cover COVID-19 treatment under emergency Medi-Cal, the state’s medicaid program. Lastly, they sought to expand hotel options for essential workers who maintain the state’s food supply, and better fund food banks and school districts to get food and information about relief programs.
3:45 p.m. April 20: Newsom says state “not seeing that downward trend” in COVID-19 cases
As COVID-19-related deaths surpassed 1,000 in California over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom said new hospitalizations are beginning to slow, though intensive care cases have fluctuated.
“We’re not seeing that downward trend we need to see in order to provide more clarity” for the state’s economic recovery, Newsom said Monday. The pandemic, he went on, has spread to almost every part of California as deaths and cases continue to increase.
Hospitalization numbers increased from Sunday to 3,257 cases, a 1.9% increase. Meanwhile, 1,196 cases are in ICUs, up 2.8%.
Still, COVID-19 monitoring — one of the state’s steps to reopening the economy — has lagged behind, with 273,721 tests received as of Saturday. Daily testing by mid April averaged 10,000 tests, up from 2,000 at the end of March. Newsom said a state task force aims to increase to 25,000 daily tests by the end of April and then “significantly increase those numbers by multiples.”
When it comes to re-opening, SCIENCE — not politics — must be California's guide.
CA has developed 6 indicators that will help guide how and when we decide to re-open our economy. This isn’t about an on/off switch. This will be a thoughtful process — led by public health…
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 14, 2020
1:15 p.m. April 20: California students to receive devices for distance learning, bridge digital divide
California officials unveiled steps to supply students with devices and access to internet for distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing digital divide.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the first partner and wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom, said 70,000 students will receive laptops, Chromebooks and tablets starting this week amid statewide school closures. Donations were made by private donors and public initiatives, which follows commitments from companies such as Google for 100,000 free wifi hotspots and 4,000 Chromebooks along with 10,000 iPads from Apple for approximately 800 school districts.
“We all know that education is fundamental to opportunity, and so our mission will not end until every child in California has what they need to continue to learning while physically distanced,” Siebel Newsom said during the governor’s briefing Monday. “This pandemic should not stand in the way of California students reaching their potential and realizing their dreams.”
One in five students lack internet connectivity or appropriate devices for remote instruction, Siebel Newsom added. Low-income families and people of color have expressed even more concerned about lack of digital access.
In addition, Newsom said the Public Utilities Commission is investing $25 million for hotspots and another $5 million for additional devices. Cities such as Sacramento are also testing wifi school buses to increase internet access, which may be extended statewide.
Tony Thurmond, state superintendent of public instruction, emphasized the digital divide between students has gone on longer than the pandemic. He pointed to the work the governor’s office has done, along with the digital divide task force that plans to meet Monday, to address those disparities.
“As we respond to the needs of our students to learn in this pandemic,” he went on, “we must once and for all close the digital divide and make sure that all of our students have the tools that enhance their success.”
Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to #COVID19.
Posted by California Governor on Monday, April 20, 2020
11:20 a.m. April 20: San Jose launches Virtual Recreation Center
To support physical and mental wellness amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the San Jose parks department launched an online learning and activities center Monday. The city’s Virtual Resource Center provides live pilot classes, recorded entertainment and educational activities for all ages, with attractions like 360-degree tours of San Jose attractions.
Residents can also do yoga, meditation and STEM learning with NBC Bay Area. Latest digital events are available on the center’s calendar.
11 a.m. April 20: How to properly physical distance, according to county officials
Six feet between others should be a minimum physical distance for essential outings or exercising amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Santa Clara County officials say. Staying home as much as possible should be the norm — as difficult as adjusting may be.
“We’re here to tell you that the best way to slow the spread and save lives is to stay home and only make essential trips, and to minimize those essential trips out of your house,” spokeswoman Hilary Armstrong said in a county Public Health Department briefing Monday.
Outings to talk in friends’ driveways or going to the grocery store because of boredom should stop. Officials emphasized to socialize virtually and on the phone. If there’s a line to get inside the grocery store, consider whether groceries are necessary at that time. When exercising, don’t crowd up space, and be sure to make room for others.
Not staying inside puts others at risk of spreading COVID-19, especially essential workers, officials said. After all, up to a quarter of people who contract the disease show no symptoms, according to county spokeswoman Marianna Moles. Read more county guidance on social distancing, including for people in apartments.
6 p.m. April 19: Newsom stops in Campbell to announce more motel rooms for homeless
During a stop in Campbell over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state has secured 10,974 hotel rooms to house homeless residents at risk of COVID-19.
Newsom also unveiled a new agreement with Motel 6 to provide an additional 5,025 rooms.
This deal is part of Project Roomkey, an initiative Newsom announced two weeks ago, which seeks to identify 15,000 hotel rooms throughout the state for homeless individuals. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay 75 percent of these housing costs.
The governor said priority will be given to those individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, live in congregate settings with exposure to the virus, are elderly or have medical conditions. Newsom said that 4,211 individuals across the state have moved off the streets and out of impacted shelters into the hotel rooms.
“People are struggling to find housing,” Newsom said, “families who have been torn apart because of economic conditions or tragedies that have occurred in their lives.”
8:45 p.m. April 17: SCC shelters more coronavirus-positive homeless
Every one of the 35 homeless individuals or households who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus have been provided “non-congregate temporary housing,” including hotel rooms or other shelters where they can be isolated from other people, county officials said Friday.
So far, the county has placed an additional 236 homeless residents in hotel or motel rooms and another 277 in shelters that have protocols in place to allow for “social distancing,” which typically means residents can stay about six feet apart from anyone not in their household. Even so, some homeless residents say they’re worried about entering shelters. More than a dozen unhoused residents protested in downtown San Jose Friday over what the protesters characterized as a lack of support in the county during the pandemic.
“The County needs to do everything it can to support and protect unhoused residents during this historically difficult time,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said in a statement Friday. “We continue to work to expand screening, testing, and housing options on a daily basis.”
To date, Santa Clara County has secured 453 hotel and motel rooms for homeless residents in San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Officials say they’ll continue to secure more temporary housing sites for to allow unhoused people to quarantine if they have existing health conditions or have been infected with the contagious virus.
7 p.m. April 17: San Jose fire chief updates on response measures
A video released Friday details how San Jose firefighters are responding to emergencies amid the novel coronavirus pandemic as more than a dozen fire personnel have contracted COVID-19.
“The pandemic has presented a real challenge for the fire department,” Fire Chief Robert Sapien Jr. says in the video. “But at the same as presenting really difficult challenges, it’s been an absolute inspiration to watch how members of the San Jose Fire Department have come together to overcome and continue to provide services to the citizens of San Jose. Right now, we are assuming that COVID-19 is everywhere we go.”
Prior to responses, dispatchers try to get information from callers for possible coronavirus symptoms. Firefighters arrive on-scene wearing personal protective equipment, including gowns, eye protection, face masks and gloves. Through a “one-in” process, a fire paramedic makes first contact to assess patients to determine if other crew members are needed. Fire stations, meanwhile, undergo increased disinfecting, while personnel practice physical distancing and use face masks where necessary.
Read more San José Spotlight reporting about how the latest fire academy is training amid the pandemic.
3 p.m. April 17: California DMV grants extensions for expired drivers licenses
Drivers with licenses expiring in March, April and May have been given extensions to renew. The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced the extensions Tuesday, as part of its response to COVID-19.
Drivers under the age of 70 now have until May 31, but those who can renew online are encouraged to do so. Commercial licenses now have through June 30 to renew. Optional paper extensions can be requested online.
Drivers who are older than 70 will be sent paper extensions automatically, which are valid for 120 days – through August 12.
Since closing field offices March 27, essential services have continued through mail, kiosks and virtual offices. Many services have been added to the list of tasks available, including vehicle registration renewals, title transfers and drivers license duplications.
1:30 p.m. April 17: Mineta San Jose airport receives $65 million in federal funds
Airports across the Bay Area will receive more than $386.5 million in funding as part of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
San Francisco International Airport will receive $254 million, the second highest amount behind Los Angeles International. San Jose’s Norman Y Mineta International earned $65.6 million – the fourth highest in the state – while its reliever airport, Reid-Hillview, will get $69,000.
“The pandemic has changed life in Santa Clara County and around the country, including by putting an unprecedented strain on our nation’s airports and aviation workers,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley. “This grant will help ensure Silicon Valley’s airport is able to operate reliably and safely during and after this public health emergency.”
Across California, 188 airports will receive a whopping $1.1 billion of the federal funds signed into law March 27.
As a whole, the COVID-19 aid package will distribute $10 billion to 3,235 airports impacted by the pandemic this month. Those dollars will fund 100 percent of the Airport Improvement Program, which removed a requirement for recipients to match funding. The goal is for critical safety and capacity projects to continue, despite the current financial downturn.
- San Francisco International Airport – $254,780,449
- Norman Y Mineta San Jose International – $65,633,236
- Metropolitan Oakland International – $44,662,438
- Charles M Schulz in Santa Rosa – $19,661,086
- Concord’s Buchanan Field – $1,053,806
- Hayward Executive – $157,000
- Byron, Livermore Municipal, Napa County, Palo Alto, Petaluma Municipal, San Carlos, San Jose Reid-Hillview, Vacaville Nut Tree – $69,000
- Half Moon Bay, Healdsburg Municipal, San Martin – $30,000
11:05 a.m. April 17: San Jose’s summer jazz festival canceled
San Jose Jazz’s Summer Fest slated for August has been canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced in a news release. The 31st annual jazz festival is now being planned to return in 2021 instead.
“The first priority of San Jose Jazz is the health, safety, and well-being of the artists, volunteers, teachers, students, production teams, and their beloved audiences who have generously supported the nonprofit’s efforts for over 30 years to present one of the country’s premier live music festivals,” the news release said.
Summer Fest attracts thousands of attendees to downtown each year and has headlined artists such as George Clinton and Herb Alpert. Organizers are working to reschedule selected headlining acts to appear at next summer’s festival, in August 2021. San Jose Jazz also canceled its summer jazz camp for youth, which was scheduled for two weeks in June.
In the meantime, organizers launched the weekly live streaming service, Live from Home, to help local and national musicians who have had tours and performances canceled because of the outbreak. Live From Home allows artists to perform 30-minute concerts from home that are streamed on San Jose Jazz’s social media. Viewers can donate to each performance, with all proceeds benefiting musicians, per the news release.
“Now more than ever, musicians and fans are engaging in creative ways online,” San Jose Jazz Executive Director Brendan Rawson said in a statement. “We want exceptional online music offerings to be accessible to anyone and from anywhere.”
6:45 p.m. April 16: Paid sick leave to essential California food sector workers
Essential California workers in large-scale food sectors who are affected by the novel coronavirus can now receive two weeks of paid sick leave through an executive order Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Thursday.
Federal relief effective April 1 required businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency paid sick leave benefits to employees who couldn’t work because of COVID-19, which left out workers in large-scale agriculture, fast food and food delivery sectors. Under the state’s March stay at home order, though, these employees were deemed essential to continue working amid the pandemic but didn’t get paid leave if they got sick.
However, Newsom’s order Thursday expands paid sick leave for farmworkers, agricultural workers, delivery drivers along with grocery store and fast food workers in companies with more than 500 workers. This applies to employees who work full-time and are quarantined by government orders, directed by a health care provider to self-isolate or their employer says they can’t work because of potentially transmitting COVID-19.
“These workers on the front lines of this crisis are our unsung heroes for continuing to work to ensure that Californians have food on their tables during these challenging times, and we must do everything in our power to make sure they are taken care of at home and in the workplace,” Newsom said in a statement. “Making sure they have paid sick leave and added protections in their place of work is critical.”
The order also permits workers to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes. The measures follow actions by the Newsom administration to implement guidance on physical distancing and disinfecting in grocery stores, as well as $100 million for child care services for essential workers, children at risk of violence or neglect, and those with disabilities. On Wednesday, Newsom announced a $125 million fund for undocumented immigrants who have had their health or income upended by COVID-19. Read Thursday’s executive order here.
LIVE NOW: Governor @GavinNewsom provides an update on California’s response to the #COVID19 pandemic. https://t.co/oTSudxG7VD
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) April 16, 2020
12:30 p.m. April 16: SJ launches economic recovery council
San Jose now has a council that will be dedicated to mapping out the path to economic recover for one of the top-10 largest cities in the country.
Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday announced the leaders of the new Silicon Valley Economic Recovery and Resilience Council, a group of local business executives who will make recommendations to governing bodies — councils and supervisor boards — in the South Bay to “prepare for the economy’s ‘new normal.'”
- Bobby Alvarado, executive officer at the NorCal Carpenters Regional Council
- Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
- Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO at Cisco Systems
- Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD
- Nicole Taylor, president and CEO at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
The group, which will eventually include a total of 30 members, will meet over 100 days this year to create those recommendations. Liccardo said no elected officials would be on the new council, and that businesses and residents would have the opportunity to provide the council feedback, though he couldn’t say when the group would begin meeting.
“The economic devastation experienced by the business community is sobering. With over 200,000 layoffs in Santa Clara County, the need to form a plan for a speedy recovery is imperative and will need the expertise of the Valley’s greatest minds,” Liccardo said. “With this novel partnership between the community, elected officials and the world’s greatest thinkers working in tandem, Silicon Valley can begin the journey to recovery.”
Additional members for the advisory group will be announced in the next two weeks, but will span a variety of industries, including tech, auto dealers, financial institutions, manufacturing, airlines, hotels, developers, construction, higher education and health care, among others.
“As the curve begins to flatten and we shift our focus from the immediate task of saving lives, we now turn our attention to the critical responsibility of saving livelihoods,” Liccardo said. “We are immensely grateful to the members of this council as we harness their incredible brainpower and business prowess to explore ways to restart our regional economy.”
11:43 a.m. April 16: Santa Clara County colleges, universities get COVID-19 funding
Santa Clara County public colleges and universities are set to receive more than $44.5 million from Congress’ latest relief bill for the novel coronavirus, according to the office of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose).
Schools, including San Jose State and De Anza Community College, are required to distribute at least half of their aid to students in the form of emergency cash grants to help pay for housing, food and other necessities, Lofgren’s office said. Funding comes from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Lofgren supported in the House and President Donald Trump signed into law.
“The pandemic has brought pain and changed life in Santa Clara County, including by putting an enormous strain on our higher education system,” Lofgren said in a statement. “I supported the CARES Act in Congress to immediately provide relief to families, workers, students and businesses.”
Here are the five institutions in Lofgren’s district set to receive funding:
- San Jose State University – $28,769,546
- De Anza Community College – $7,235,258
- Evergreen Valley College – $3,949,985
- Gavilan College – $2,328,197
- San Jose City College – $2,274,964
11:15 a.m. April 16: Agencies see declines in domestic violence calls
Santa Clara County agencies that address domestic violence have seen a decline in calls to crisis lines, which may be due to lack of privacy at home because victims are housed with perpetrators amid shelter in place, according to Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, executive director of Next Door Solutions, one of the county’s oldest emergency shelter providers for survivors of domestic violence.
“It’s very difficult,” she said during a county public health briefing Thursday. “Sometimes their telephone calls, their computer activity, texting — all those things are being monitored by the abusing partner, so they’re very isolated. It’s much more difficult for them to reach out.”
This reflects San José Spotlight reporting that found reported domestic violence cases in San Jose were down in March, when shelter in place orders went into effect, compared to last year. Police Chief Eddie Garcia said numbers may not encompass the issue because domestic violence is often an underreported crime.
While saying the orders are essential to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials raised awareness about family safety in homes that can be worsened with financial burdens amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “All of this can negatively impact survivors and actually create circumstances where safety is further compromised,” said Carla Collins, who oversees the county Office of Gender Based Violence Prevention.
Tanis Crosby, CEO of the YWCA Silicon Valley, asked people who may be affected by domestic violence to consider a safety plan, continue reaching out to their safety network and know help is available from various service providers throughout the county.
“Just like COVID-19, the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault may not always be visible,” she said. “And for many survivors, feelings of isolation have been in place for years and is being compounded by COVID-19.”
Here are resources available:
- County Office of Gender Based Violence Prevention;
- YWCA 24-hour hotline: 800-572-2782;
- Next Door 24-hour hotline: 408-279-2962;
- United Way 2-1-1 phone line;
- Safe Chat Silicon Valley.
9:45 a.m. April 16: Rep. Khanna joins White House Coronavirus Advisory Council
President Donald Trump is getting advice on reopening the economy from Silicon Valley Democrat Ro Khanna, along with a bipartisan delegation from Congress invited to the White House Coronavirus Advisory Council.
Khanna — seen as a more liberal House member who is often critical of Trump — made the announcement Thursday morning, saying he joined the working group’s first conference call as the federal Paycheck Protection Program recently ran out of funds for small business aid and record numbers of Americans have filed for unemployment.
“Though we continue to share obvious and pronounced disagreements, the task at hand is too important for partisanship,” Khanna said in a statement. “As a member of the Council, I will continue to fight to get working class Americans the relief they need to make it to the other side of COVID-19.”
Politico reported the Trump administration invited prominent Senate Democrats including Dianne Feinstein of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois. Along with Khanna, Monterey Bay Rep. Jimmy Panetta was among House Democrats invited. Republicans such as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Minority House Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana were also asked to join the council.
Khanna said he plans to call for advanced manufacturing investment and said the U.S. was too dependent on medical equipment and electronics from China and Germany, among other countries. Likening the moment to former President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership during the Cold War, he said, “we can reshape the future of American industry to rebuild our economy if we harness the power of American innovation.”
5 p.m. April 15: Mountain View adds more than $1 million in rent relief
Mountain View City Council approved $1.134 million for the city’s COVID-19 rent relief program Tuesday, adding to the $1.3 million it passed for small businesses, seniors, homeless and unstably housed in March, according to a city news release.
The new funds come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development block grant program, which included allocating dollars for the city from the latest $2 trillion federal relief package.
Mountain View already received more than $74,000 from more than 400 community members donating to the #TogetherMV fund for rent relief and small business assistance, city officials said. LinkedIn, headquartered in Silicon Valley, has also $100,000 pledged for small businesses.
More than $2.6 million in relief has been donated by public, private and individual contributors, Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga said in a statement. “But even more impressive is how quickly we have been able to come together and make it all happen. Expedience in getting assistance out to those in need has to be the priority in our efforts.”
At its May 5 meeting, council members plan to consider funding up to $1 million in more relief as they receive updates on the city’s budget and financial status.
4:15 p.m. April 15: Instagram launches small business support
Instagram launched more opportunities for small businesses to promote themselves amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Businesses can now share gift cards and food orders in Instagram stories and profiles, the Facebook-owned company said in a blog post Wednesday.
When users tap on gift card or order Instagram stickers, they can make purchases at the businesses. The new gift card and order stickers are available in the U.S. and Canada, and will be unveiled globally in the coming weeks. Moreover, Instagram plans to offer fundraising for businesses, whereby stickers will open to fundraisers created by owners or their supporters on Facebook.
“For many businesses right now, every sale helps,” the blog post said.
3:45 p.m. April 15: California to launch relief fund for undocumented residents
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a first-in-the-nation disaster relief assistance fund to support undocumented immigrants that have had their health and income upended by COVID-19.
The $125 million fund will be seeded by philanthropic partners, which have agreed to raise $50 million, and the state, which will contribute $75 million.
“Regardless of your status — documented or undocumented — there are people in need and this is a state that steps up always to support those regardless of status,” Newsom said. “Ten percent of California’s workforce is undocumented … and an over-representation of that workforce is undocumented in the areas that are so essential to meeting the needs of tens of millions of Californians today.”
Undocumented residents are not eligible for state unemployment nor federal stimulus payments. About 150,000 undocumented California residents will can apply starting next month to get a one-time $500 payment per adult, with a cap of $1,000 per household to help with COVID-19 impacts, regardless of income.
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees is administering the new fund, known as the California Immigrant Resilience Fund. So far, $5.5 million has been raised from the Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor and other donors. Donations can be made at www.immigrantfundCA.org. The state has also published an immigrant resource guide to COVID-19 assistance.
“During this moment of national crisis, undocumented immigrants are risking their own health on behalf of the rest of us, saving lives as health care workers; caring for our loved ones; and growing much of the food we depend on,” Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective said in a statement Wednesday. “With the federal government and so many states failing to provide undocumented immigrants the economic and health supports all Americans deserve, I hope that corporations, foundations and individuals across the country will join us in providing the emergency relief these members of our community need to weather this challenging time.”
3:37 p.m. April 15: Self-employed, independent contractors can apply for unemployment this month
Self-employed and independent contractors will be able to apply for unemployment in California starting April 28 though the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, state leaders announced Wednesday.
The State’s Employment Development Department will set up a “one-stop shop” for small business and independent workers that have lost work due to COVID-19. Federal guidelines include “gig workers,” like Lyft and Uber drivers and other services.
The funds will be issued within one to two days after an application is submitted, and can be retroactive to the first week of February if a worker can prove they’d lost work due to the coronavirus at that time, state officials said Wednesday.
“Many Californians are one paycheck away from losing their homes or from being able to put food on their tables, and COVID-19 has only made these challenges worse,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “California is focused on getting relief dollars and unemployment assistance in the hands of those who need it as quickly as possible.”
3:15 p.m. April 15: Newsom signs executive order to beef up unemployment call center
As the number of Californians filing for unemployment benefits rises to 2.7 million in the last four weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced he’d signed an executive order to extend the state’s Employment Development Department’s call hours.
“I just want to acknowledge that there is frustration in California over unemployment insurance benefits,” Julie Su, secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency said Wednesday during a news conference. “The governor’s executive order today is going to allow us to open up the hours of call center so that those of you who are seeking a live person to talk to to get help will be able to do that much more easily.”
The department has been operating its call center since 2013 from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. But now those phone lines will stay open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, the state has trained and reallocated hundreds of public workers to take on the “record call volumes,” on the unemployment line, and will add hundreds more on Monday, Newsom said. San Jose Spotlight published a how-to guide on how Californians can apply for unemployment last week.
Governor Gavin Newsom announces new initiatives to support California workers impacted by #COVID19.
Posted by California Governor on Wednesday, April 15, 2020
3 p.m. April 15: California Waste Solutions donates 20,000 masks
California Waste Solutions on Wednesday committed to donating 20,000 protective masks for front line workers in Oakland and San Jose, the two primary markets the trash and recycling hauler services. Half will go to San Jose and the other half to Oakland.
“As we closely monitor developments and prioritize the safety of our employees, we cannot ignore the growing need of support for organizations and first responders on the frontline,” CEO David Duong said in a statement. “As a provider of vital public services, and a business with local roots, providing support to elected and community leaders in this challenging time is just as imperative. Through our collective work, we will flatten the curve and end the impacts of this health crisis in our community.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and councilmember Sergio Jimenez praised the move Wednesday.
“During this unpredictable time, California Waste Solutions is supporting our community and proving that we are truly in this together,” Jimenez said. “Their donation of 10,000 masks to San Jose will protect not only our invaluable and brave first responders, but also the lives and well-being of our city’s residents. I am proud we have a trustworthy and generous community partner in CWS.”
11:50 a.m. April 15: SJ approves rent freeze, extends eviction moratoriums
San Jose city leaders approved a citywide rent freeze after an hours-long debate that ended in a 7-4 vote Tuesday night.
The vote comes after last week’s attempt to implement a rent suspension for San Jose families financially affected by COVID-19 was quickly struck down over concerns the proposal violated the Constitution. Councilmembers Raul Peralez and Magdalena Carrasco then authored the rent freeze initiative instead, which calls for a moratorium on rent increases for all rent-controlled properties and mobile home parks starting on April 21.
The city is encouraging landlords to temporarily discount rents on the terms that the initial rent controlled rate will not be affected once the rent freeze is lifted. Under the city’s rent control policy, landlords can legally increase rents up to 5 percent once a year.
Councilmembers on Tuesday also unanimously approved extending the city’s moratorium on evictions to May 31 and enforcing stronger protections for tenants to further protect low-income households and prevent exacerbating the region’s homeless and housing crises. The first 30-day eviction moratorium was set to expire on April 17, but now will last to the end of May, nearly a month after the region’s shelter-in-place order expires on May 3.
The state’s shelter-in-place order bans evictions, but does allow landlords to start the eviction process by filing notices and lawsuits to drive tenants out once the ban has been lifted on May 31. San Jose’s moratorium prevents landlords from starting the process in advance, loosens the documentation requirements and gives residents 7 days — instead of 3 — to inform their landlord they’ve been impacted by COVID-19 if they’ve been served an eviction notice.
11:15 a.m. April 15: “We are by no means out of the woods,” county health officer says
Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said now moving to reduce public health measures that have slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus could lead to spikes in new cases and deaths.
“We are by no means out of the woods,” Cody said during Wednesday’s briefing. “So our collective action has slowed the spread, but we have to keep at it. It is not the time to let up. If we let up, what we will see is a resurgence in cases.”
Cody emphasized the most important step residents can take is limit contact with people outside of their home, which includes spending as little time as possible going out for essential activities. She acknowledged the harm shelter in place orders have caused in loss of work and children not attending school, but said it should be weighed with overall public health benefits, and trying to find the best measures for people going forward.
During the briefing, Cody said people can get the virus and spread it for up to 48 hours before becoming sick with symptoms. Even then, a number of COVID-19-positive people never show symptoms. This, Cody said, underscores why the shelter in place order is effective, because it reduces the chance that anyone who might be infected, even unknowingly, can pass it to others. “It’s important now,” she said, “it will be important a month from now, and probably longer.”
Meanwhile, businesses and residents must report large inventories of personal protective equipment to the county by the end of Wednesday. Learn more about minimum thresholds and fill out the public health form here.
11 a.m. April 15: City of Santa Clara to open Small Business Assistance Grant Program
Small businesses and nonprofits within the city of Santa Clara can start filling out grant applications by noon Wednesday, after the city council last week allocated $500,000 in one-time funds to help keep the nearly 5,000 eligible businesses afloat during uncertain financial times.
Distributed on a first-come, first serve basis, shuttered non-essential businesses will receive $10,000 in one-time funds, while essential businesses will receive $5,000 since they still have the opportunity to gain profits. The money must be used to cover either payroll costs or lease payments.
These funds will be available for establishments that have at least one but fewer than 25 full-time employees, have a physical storefront in Santa Clara, are in good standing with the city and can demonstrate losses from the impacts of COVID-19.
Submissions will start being accepted 10 a.m. Friday, so businesses have time to ask questions and accurately complete paperwork. Complete applications must be emailed to [email protected]
Restrictions originally applied to franchise owners and businesses with an 18+ patronage, but Assistant City Manager Ruth Shikada said those exclusions were removed in an attempt to reach as many business owners and staff as possible. Sole proprietor, virtual and home businesses, however, are not eligible, as the lump sums would only go to a small number of people.
The program’s draft proposal initially allocated $250,000 in grants, but Mayor Lisa Gillmor pushed for an increase due to the expected need, especially after San Jose’s $11 million relief fund for its residents was depleted within only three days.
“I’m worried that we may run out of money in the first couple of hours,” Gillmor said. “It won’t be a huge help, but it will be a help until we actually figure out what’s happening here.”
In addition to the grant program, flexible payment plans for water, sewer and electric utilities are also available through the city’s Economic Injury Worksheet.
6:15 p.m. April 14: 13 deaths, 252 cases at long-term care facilities in Santa Clara County
Thirteen people have died from the novel coronavirus at long-term care facilities (LTCF) in Santa Clara County, according to public health data released Tuesday. There have been 252 total cases with 40 hospitalizations across 24 facilities, with cases encompassing both residents and staff.
Of the 60 COVID-19 deaths countywide as of Monday, LTCFs accounted for more than a fifth of all the dead. About 10% of California’s coronavirus cases in nursing homes and LTCFs were in Santa Clara County as of Friday.
“We are paying special attention to long-term care facilities because their clients are at higher risk for more severe disease from COVID-19,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the county health officer, in a statement. “We are acutely aware of this and have been actively investigating and responding to needs in LTCFs to protect our most vulnerable residents.”
Facilities included skilled nursing, independent living, board and care, and assisted living, all of which typically serve older people with chronic health conditions, a population at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. On Friday, Dr. Sarah Rudman, assistant health officer for the county, said 114 residents and 50 staff members had tested positive at facilities throughout the county. Per Tuesday’s data, 16 nursing facilities had 230 cases and 11 deaths, the overwhelming share of LTCF county cases.
Eighty-eight total LTCF cases had shown symptoms by April 1. As of Sunday, there were 197 cases with symptoms, but numbers didn’t show 50 asymptomatic cases, about a fifth of all cases, and five others currently under investigation.
Local and state officials have outlined special emphasis on these facilities, including investigations for symptom screenings and more extensive testing, as well as providing more personal protective equipment to staff. View the data here.
12:05 p.m. April 14: Find out which South Bay restaurants are open and how to order
From curry pizza to orange sauce, residents can find more than 800 restaurants open across the South Bay that are offering take-out, delivery and different pick-up options. The database — created by the Dining at a Distance website — has information broken down by service type, hours and neighborhood, and even maps out restaurants.
Restaurants can post information about offerings, too. View the map here.
11:36 a.m. April 14: Benefits, legal aid navigation for workers affected by COVID-19 pandemic
After announcing the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Assistance Navigation (CAN) hotline on Thursday to sift through benefits programs and other resources, officials outlined more free legal advice and aid for people out of work or whose hours have been reduced amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Fair Workplace Collaborative launched a legal advice line staffed by attorneys who can provide guidance to address workplace discrimination, wage theft, unemployment and paid family leave, according to Jessica Vollmer, director of the collaborative, which is part of the Working Partnerships USA organization. Advisers speak English, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mandarin and Tagalog.
Betty Duong, manager of the county Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, said unemployment benefits are extended up to 39 weeks, from 26 weeks before, through July 31. People collecting unemployment will receive an additional $600 weekly. Contractors and gig workers are also eligible for benefits if they lost work due to the pandemic.
The state Employment Development Department also waived the one-week waiting period for benefits, so residents are eligible for aid the first day they lost work, Duong added. But because of the unprecedented number of claims filed, there may be delays to receive the EDD debit card to access funds.
Call the CAN hotline at 408-809-2124 or the legal advice line at 866-870-7725. Visit the county website here, or email county labor standards enforcement at [email protected].
10:38 a.m. April 14: Silicon Valley Strong fundraising totals more than $20M
Fundraising for the Silicon Valley Strong partnership has surpassed $20 million, with donations intended to help vulnerable residents, small businesses and nonprofits amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s office.
“The pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the residents of Silicon Valley,” Liccardo said in a statement. “We have seen a tremendous outpouring of support from the community so far but the need is so great that we are calling on our leaders for even more generosity.”
About $16 million of funding goes toward the COVID-19 financial assistance fund, which helps low-income Santa Clara County residents with direct cash aid for rent and other basic needs of up to $4,000 per month of lost income. In the first three days of launching with $11 million in March, the COVID-19 fund ran out of money when 4,400 families applied. As of Monday, the waitlist skyrocketed to more than 9,000 families.
Almost 70 percent of families seeking help are people of color and half are considered extremely low-income, meaning a four-person household that makes $43,900 or less annually, according to Jennifer Loving, CEO of Destination: Home, the primary philanthropic partner behind the fund with Sacred Heart Community Services.
On April 4, Silicon Valley Strong partners hosted a telethon with NBC Bay Area and Telemundo 48 and raised $277,200 in donations, Liccardo’s office said. Several local organizations and philanthropists — from Cisco to South Bay developer John Sobrato — have already committed to helping Silicon Valley Strong, a partnership between government, nonprofit and private groups. In addition to monetary giving, Silicon Valley Strong also serves as a digital resource hub to stay informed and find resources, volunteer opportunities and food distribution. To learn more and help, visit its website.
Our community stepped up to support #SiliconValleyStrong—raising $20M+ for neighbors in need during this #COVID19 crisis. There’s still much work to be done to secure critical resources to meet this moment. To give: https://t.co/6uiTeAEhSH
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) April 14, 2020
9 p.m. April 13: County supervisors consider waiving penalties on late property taxes
Two Santa Clara County supervisors are pushing to waive penalties for property taxes paid late due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Property taxes were due across the state last Friday, but Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez and Supervisor Joe Simitian have proposed waiving the 10% penalty and $20 fee for all late payments in Santa Clara County. The board will consider the proposal April 21.
“We’re in a crisis, and people are hurting,” Simitian said in a statement. “I think most folks understand that property taxes for our cities, our schools and the County are needed to keep our government running – particularly so given the current crisis. That being said, penalizing people who are doing the best they can during a difficult time makes no sense to me.”
Simitian and Chavez also want to publicize that property owners can make partial payments on their property taxes — an option most counties don’t allow.
The proposal comes after the U.S. Department of Treasury delayed Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. But property taxes, which are used for schools and local governments, can’t be delayed, according to a memo from the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors.
Chavez’s office and the Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors both agree, however, the state tax and revenue code grants counties authority to waive penalties for circumstances beyond taxpayers’ control.
The two supervisors are also asking county officials to find other ways to reduce payment penalties, such as potentially reducing interest charged on properties that fall into default.
“Relief from penalties is particularly important for homeowners and small businesspeople whose livelihoods are uncertain,” Chavez said in a statement, “they need immediate relief.”
6:30 p.m. April 13: East Side Union schools provide meals to adults
East Side Union High School District schools started providing meals to adults in the community Monday, San Jose officials announced. Up to 200 meals are expected to be distributed daily to adults at each of the four high schools, though the district was already serving pick-up meals weekdays to children under 18 amid campus closures across Santa Clara County and California due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Mount Pleasant and William C. Overfelt high schools started serving meals to adults Monday, while James Lick and Andrew Hill high schools are scheduled to begin distributing meals to adults on Wednesday, city officials added.
Pick-up meals are available weekdays 12-1 p.m. View the city’s food distribution map for a full list of locations.
6:12 p.m. April 13: Crosswalk buttons disabled downtown
To avoid people touching shared surfaces, San Jose officials disabled crosswalk buttons in downtown on Monday, so pedestrian signals activate automatically, a city news release said. The changes by the city transportation department affect more than 100 intersections.
Before, dozens of downtown crosswalk signals were automatically activated between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but Monday’s updates expand that 24 hours a day throughout the week, officials said. This also activates audible pedestrian signals at night.
6 p.m. April 13: Holiday park closures lifted in San Jose
San Jose parks closed over the holiday weekend have reopened, city officials said Monday. Regional parks and many parking lots had closed last Saturday and Sunday to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with possible overcrowding.
However, officials cautioned residents to continue following Santa Clara County’s physical distancing orders, avoid gathering or engaging in group activities, and comply with all park amenity closures. This includes park benches, all dog parks, basketball courts, soccer fields, playgrounds, picnic and barbecue areas, and restrooms.
“The City will close parks, in order to protect public health and safety, if park visitors do not follow public health and safety requirements,” officials said in a news release.
4 p.m. April 13: Newsom teases plan to ‘reopen economy’
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said the state is preparing to release new details about how and when California will return to normal and “reopen the economy” after weeks of a mandatory stay at home order. The details are expected to be unveiled Tuesday.
That effort is the “cause that unites us all,” Newsom said. “That is the cause of reopening our economy and doing so in a safe and strategic and responsible way.”
The news comes as public health officials in the state and the Bay Area say the mandate for residents to stay inside and for businesses and schools to close has succeeded in “bending the curve,” or significantly slowing the spread of the contagious coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a sometimes deadly respiratory illness.
California has partnered with Oregon and Washington state officials to create a framework for the plan, though each state will create their own specific vision for getting residents and businesses back to their normal, daily lives. Newsom, along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the partnership Monday.
“COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness,” the three governors said in a joint statement. “In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.”
3 p.m. April 13: SCC releases guidance for essential businesses in Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County officials released more guidance for essential businesses to protect workers and customers from being exposed to the novel coronavirus.
The recommendations expands on the extended public health order to shelter in place, now in place until May 3. Under the order, essential businesses already had physical distancing requirements for customers and employees, and were mandated to providing hand sanitizer or soap and water as well as regularly disinfect “high-touch” surfaces.
However, the county health officer “strongly recommends” more employee health screenings, requiring face coverings and frequent facility sanitation, while changing sanitizing solution at least once every four hours. The county also recommends businesses implement customer protections with spacing tools, limit self-serving or sampling, designate hours for people who are older or have underlying health conditions, and even refuse customers who don’t wear face coverings, the guidance says.
The county has information for essential workers outlining protections for commuting, while at work, getting home and planning for if they get sick. The county Department of Environmental Health also produced a handout specific to food facilities, and public health officials have guidance for the construction industry, too.
Information on county essential business guidance can be found here.
11:21 a.m. April 13: County outlines how emergency response, outreach works
Santa Clara County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated for COVID-19 response for at least six weeks, yielding a centralized location with about 200 staff to respond to the public health crisis and assist residents, officials detailed in Monday’s briefing.
With more than 20,000 county workers across 80 departments, officials have coordinated tactical operations, action plans, logistics, financing and management to execute decisions, according to David Flamm, the deputy director of the county Office of Emergency Management, which organizes the EOC. After weeks of sheltering in place, health officials say the spread of the novel coronavirus may be slowing in the county.
Officials have worked to reach the diverse communities in San Jose by publishing information on multiple platforms, including social media, email and through webinars and translating critical health information to multiple languages.
“We want to emphasize that we’ve had some success in this county in terms of managing this crisis, but it’s not over,” said Patty Eaton, a spokeswoman for county emergency management.
If residents need more information for issues such as services available, food supplies or child care, they can call United Way’s 211 line or text “Coronavirus” to 211211.
5:30 p.m. April 10: SBA Loan applications for self-employed open today
Independent contractors and those who are self-employed can now apply to receive loans for payroll and other expenses from Small Business Association lenders.
San Jose officials on Friday put together a slew of resources for those who want to apply. Among them: a fact sheet from the U.S. Treasury department, and a list of local partners including the Small Business Development Center, Minority Business Development Agency, AnewAmerica and SCORE, each of which can offer additional information and may be able to help with paperwork. Businesses in San Jose can also email the city at [email protected] with questions.
5 p.m. April 10: State unveils initiatives to protect nursing home, skilled care residents and workers
State officials on Friday unveiled new guidelines and initiatives to protect people who live and work at nursing homes and skilled-care facilities throughout the state.
Those who live in nursing homes and skilled care facilities are considered high-risk patients if they contract the fast-spreading virus, because it has a significantly higher mortality rate for seniors and those with existing health conditions.
“We know that if we do not continue to be vigilant and focused on protecting the residents and the staff in those institutions, that we may actually see an upward tick in this curve, a number of very vulnerable people who become sick and need to be hospitalized and begin to challenge our current surge capacity,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary, said Friday during a news conference.
To that end, the state has convened a taskforce of infectious disease control experts who are working with the CDC and other agencies to address concerns around nursing homes and other facilities. In addition, 600 nurses have been retrained with new COVID-19 protocols and are being sent to facilities across California to ensure the homes use best practices to combat the contagious and sometimes deadly respiratory illness.
California is also prioritizing testing at the facilities and getting personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and shields to medical workers at nursing homes and skilled care homes.
“This is a point of passion — as it should be for all of us — to care for our elderly, care for the people that literally raised us and took care of us,” Newsom said.
About 1,266 people who live or work at 191 nursing homes and long-term care facilities in California have tested positive for COVID-19, Newsom announced Friday. Another 370 people at 94 smaller facilities licensed through the Department of Social Services have also tested positive for the contagious virus in the state, he added.
While that may seem like a relatively small number of cases compared to the total 1,224 nursing homes and 7,461 licensed care facilities in California, Newsom stressed Friday that some areas have been hit harder than others, creating hot spots that could pop up elsewhere if not addressed.
Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to the #COVID19 outbreak.
Posted by California Governor on Friday, April 10, 2020
3:25 p.m. April 10: Santa Clara County responds to coronavirus cases at long-term care facilities
The number of coronavirus-positive patients and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Santa Clara County has grown to 164 cases, county officials said Friday.
Of those, 114 are residents and 50 are staff members, according to Dr. Sarah Rudman, assistant health officer for the county. Rudman declined to say which facilities had confirmed cases due to privacy concerns.
“For each facility where there’s any concern raised… we investigate the full range of their infection control practices and both patient and staff movement around the facility,” Rudman said.
Residents at long-term care facilities and nursing homes are among the county’s highest priority to protect from the novel virus due to the increased death rates in older adults and those with existing medical conditions.
When the county becomes aware of a suspected case, a specialized team evaluates the facility and its testing needs. To date, the county has tested nearly everyone in the facilities where officials see an influx of illnesses, according to officials.
Staff at the facilities receive “additional expert training necessary in the context of COVID-19 to use the infection prevention techniques required by the public health department,” Rudman said.
County officials expect to see sporadic cases of the coronavirus appear in long–term facilities and said they’ll continue to monitor those locations.
10:50 a.m. April 10: County’s child abuse prevention month amid the pandemic
Santa Clara County officials called on residents to report suspected child abuse and neglect amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“With this current public health emergency, we know that there’s additional burdens and stressers placed upon children and placed upon families,” said Daniel Little, acting director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services, in a briefing Friday, “and we want to make sure that as a community, that each and every one one of us understand our parts in ensuring the safety and well-being of all the vulnerable populations within our county.”
On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors declared child abuse prevention month. The county child abuse call center is available 24 hours a day, and emergency response social workers can respond to allegations of abuse or neglect, Little said. Visit the county website for more information. Contact the call center at 1-833-SCC-KIDS to report suspected cases.
9:30 p.m. April 9: San Jose closes more parks for Easter weekend
San Jose parks and many parking lots will be closed this weekend, on both April 11 and 12 — an effort to prevent overcrowding during the Easter holiday weekend, according to city officials. The city announced some of the closures Wednesday, but the list of closed parks and parking lots grew Thursday.
Though neighborhood parks will stay open, the city has prohibited gatherings and egg hunts and city officials warn that parks could close indefinitely if visitors don’t adhere to the 6-foot distancing rule for people who do not live in the same household.
“Everyone has a duty to stop the spread of coronavirus,” city officials said in a statement Wednesday.
7:45 p.m. April 9: Santa Clara County launches hotline to help navigate safety net programs
As record numbers of people have lost work amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Santa Clara County officials announced on Thursday the COVID-19 Assistance Navigation (CAN) hotline to help residents navigate safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, food benefits and housing.
“We cannot have a thriving community unless we can rest assured that workers receive a day’s pay for a day’s work, parents will return safely to their kids at night, and no one is ever afraid of retaliation when they speak out against something wrong,” county Supervisor Dave Cortese said in a statement. “Now more than ever, during this pandemic, we need to provide resources and protection for abused workers.”
A partnership between the county Office of Labor Standards Enforcement and the Fair Workplace Collaborative, CAN can help residents navigate services with benefits available to them and walk them through application processes. It can also connect people with legal aid attorneys to answer questions about work-related issues such as employment and income.
Santa Clara County CAN’s hotline is 408-809-2124. Support is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, officials said, with more languages set to come. More information is also available here.
3:40 p.m. April 9: Hospital officials say public health measures have eased local hospitals’ COVID-19 capacity
The time for local hospitals to prepare for COVID-19 cases has been “invaluable,” Paul Lorenz, CEO of Valley Medical Center, said Thursday, due to early measures Santa Clara County health officials took in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“And with that, we’ve been able to focus on making sure the staff are ready and prepared, including making sure that we obtain the appropriate (personal protective equipment) and supplies necessary for any demand or surge on our system,” Lorenz said in a briefing Thursday.
In three county-owned hospital emergency rooms, Lorenz said visits overall are down to 33% from their typical volume, in part because of public notices for people with flu-like symptoms to call their regular health care provider before going to the hospital. This decrease has helped prepare hospitals for COVID-19 case surges and take in acutely ill patients. Acquiring O’Connor and St. Louise hospitals last year helped the county increase surge capacity in its own hospitals by another 340 beds, he added, 200 of which are ICU capable with ventilators.
- Bed capacity is at 50% of 580 fully staffed beds; about 10% to 12% of beds are COVID-19 patients.
- Intensive care beds are about 70% to 80% full.
- COVID-19 patients fill more than 10% of acute hospital beds.
Officials emphasized there are resources and protections available for hospital staff to respond to COVID-19. On Tuesday, San José Spotlight reported nurses at hospitals in Santa Clara County have said they aren’t being adequately protected as they treat COVID-19 patients.
At O’Connor Hospital, CEO Dr. Meenesh Bhimani said every person entering the hospital is screened for COVID-19 symptoms. O’Connor has also maintained supplies of PPE for staff and patients.
“All of these efforts are really aimed at maintaining the safety of our staff as well as our patients and allowing us to provide the care that we can,” Bhimani said.
10:20 a.m. April 9: Cisco donates surgical masks, face shields to Santa Clara County
Cisco donated 220,000 surgical masks and 240 face shields to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department amid the coronavirus outbreak, tweeted Chuck Robbins, the CEO and chairman of the San Jose-based tech company, adding “we look forward to continuing to help our front line.”
Cisco’s announcement comes as other companies and groups have donated personal protective equipment to health professionals for COVID-19. Last Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Cupertino tech company would begin shipping 1 million of its own designed face shields each week. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, meanwhile, has raised more than $4.7 million for medical supplies and equipment at local hospitals.
On Wednesday, the county ordered businesses and individuals report their inventory of large supplies of PPE and all ventilators in the event of hospital surges of COVID-19 patients. Additionally, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California would get 150 million N95 masks and 50 million surgical masks each month.
So proud of our @Cisco team for delivering 220K surgical masks and 240 more face shields to @HealthySCC – we look forward to continuing to help our front line #HeroesOfCovid19 pic.twitter.com/RlhuzUdYsI
— Chuck Robbins (@ChuckRobbins) April 8, 2020
5:40 p.m. April 8: San Jose parks will close this weekend
San Jose regional parks and many parking lots will be closed this weekend, on both April 11 and 12 — an effort to prevent overcrowding during the Easter holiday weekend, according to city officials.
Though neighborhood parks will stay open, the city has prohibited gatherings and egg hunts and city officials warn that parks could close indefinitely if visitors don’t adhere to the 6-foot distancing rule for people who do not live in the same household.
“Everyone has a duty to stop the spread of coronavirus,” city officials said in a statement Wednesday.
Catch up on our past coronavirus coverage:
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