Coronavirus LIVE BLOG: Heightened enforcement for businesses with new Santa Clara County public health order 
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen spoke at the County Government Chambers March 31 about the latest revisions to the shelter in place order. Photo by Katie Lauer.

Bay Area businesses, residents and elected officials are reacting by the hour to the spread of coronavirus with new announcements, closures and legal orders. The novel coronavirus has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Despite precautions taken by public and private entities, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading through the South Bay.

On Friday, Santa Clara County reported 5,863 confirmed coronavirus cases and 166 deaths. California had 304,297 positive cases and 6,851 deaths.

The rate at which the coronavirus is spreading is slower than state and county officials’ early projections, before issuing shelter-in-place orders in March. In the Bay Area, health officials extended the order indefinitely with loosened restrictions on certain businesses and outdoor activities.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also issued an indefinite stay-at-home order for the entire state but has eased some restrictions.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of a viral infection, including a cough or fever, must stay home, officials said.

11:53 a.m. July 10: Heightened enforcement for businesses with new Santa Clara County public health order 

Santa Clara County’s new public health order set to take effect Monday reopens many personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, hotels and motels, but only under social distancing protocols all business owners must sign under penalty of perjury.

While county officials stress this is a last-stop measure, lying about a business’s procedures around public health compliance could result in probation or up to four years in prison. This new enforcement was not included under the county’s previous order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The main idea is that businesses need to take seriously the requirements to comply with the order,” Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro said in an email Thursday. “This is an important change that requires people to take great care in how we work together.”

In a Public Health Department briefing Friday, county spokesperson Betty Duong outlined the new protocols intended to protect workers and customers. The county requires all businesses to verify they meet public health guidance on physical distancing, density limitations, face mask requirements and ability to contact trace cases should they arise.

Under the new order, businesses will look different, particularly for hair and nail salons and other industries that have received industry-specific directives. The county allows personal care services to only take appointments and restrict waiting areas, while services done to people’s faces, like beard trimming or eyelash extensions, are prohibited for now, as face coverings are required at all times. Additionally, customers should limit the items they bring inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19, though phones are permitted.

These verified business measures, along with a larger COVID-19 preparedness sign with a prominent blue checkmark, must be posted publicly for patrons and employees to review. If people notice the business may not be complying with its own protocols, they can report it to the county.

“Our approach is not to punish businesses. Our mission right now is a safe resumption of economic activity so that we don’t have to backslide and close things down again,” Duong said.

All businesses must submit protocols online before they operate Monday. To report a business, residents can contact 1-866-870-7725.

10:58 a.m. July 9: Winchester Mystery House to reopen self-guided mansion tours

Since closing four months ago, the Winchester Mystery House announced it would reopen for self-guided mansion tours next Monday in accordance with Santa Clara County’s latest public health order.

While the famed San Jose mansion has been closed since March 12, Winchester had reopened its outdoor gardens for self-guided tours on May 15 under state guidance allowing outdoor museums and botanical gardens to reopen. As of next Monday, visitors can now access the 160-room mansion on self-guided, touchless tours, a news release announced.

“For 97 years, we’ve offered Mansion Tours, but over the course of the past few months we’ve been challenged to create a safe and compelling experience for guests that will be sustainable in the ‘new normal,’” Walter Magnuson, Winchester’s general manager, said in a statement. “We have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to share this iconic attraction with the public, and the Self-Guided Mansion Tour will allow our visitors to explore the various rooms like never before.” 

Magnuson added the tours leverage the house’s unique design and provide guests with ample time and space to engage with the estate’s history while complying with social distancing guidelines. Winchester hosts will be positioned throughout the estate to assist guests, but the tour is entirely self-guided with audio and signage.

To ensure social distancing protocols, tour groups are smaller, restricted to members of the same family, and have a modified one-way linear route to focus on the mansion’s largest rooms. Along with timed ticketing, guests and employees must wear face coverings, and there are sanitization stations throughout the estate, a news release said.

The county’s newest order, set to take effect next Monday with state approval, reopens many personal care services, gyms, fitness centers, as well as hotels and motels. The order also increases indoor gatherings of up to 20 people while requiring businesses to verify physical distancing protocols, which includes density limits at one worker per 250 square feet and one customer per 150 square feet. Face coverings are required at any business.

But many indoor activities — such as dine-in eating and swimming pools — as well as other areas where people remove masks are still prohibited. Larger gatherings like sports venues, night clubs or amusement parks, which fall under California’s last phase of reopening, also remain closed.

A ticket purchase of the mansion tour also gets visitors access to Winchester’s gardens. For more information about its health and safety guidelines, visit Winchester’s website.

10 a.m. July 9: San Jose reinstates additional parking compliance

San Jose began enforcing additional parking compliance to identify, warn and potentially remove vehicles considered health and safety threats or those that contribute to blight effective Wednesday, the city Department of Transportation said in a news release. The city has reinstated many parking enforcement measures since they were halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City parking and traffic control officials define unsafe or blight as cars on jacks or blocks, missing or shattered windows, vandalized or graffiti, significantly flat tires or illegal dumping activities.

Now, officers also enforce temporary tow-away zones in nonresidential areas, in addition to ensuring access to construction sites. Large red and white temporary signs identify tow-away zones, which are typically posted on barricades or attached to meter poles.

Meanwhile, other vehicle abatement services will remain suspended, but authorities will not respond to requests submitted through San Jose 311, the city’s one-stop service request provider. Officers also will not tow vehicles where people are living inside them.

On June 8, parking and traffic officers resumed vehicle patrols to identify nonoperational vehicles parked illegally on city streets and leave warnings for owners. Actual towing began a week after.

In four weeks, the transportation department reported officers warned and removed 27 nonoperational vehicles from streets, with approximately 70 percent of those towed not reported but identified from patrols.

For more details on parking compliance, visit the Department of Transportation blog.

6 p.m. July 8: San Jose’s Communications Hill staircase reopens to public

The Communications Hill staircase has reopened to the public after three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Jose parks department announced Wednesday. The popular attraction was one of the last park destinations to reopen in the city.

Still, many park amenities remained closed, including playgrounds, restrooms, basketball courts, barbecue and picnic areas, as well as drinking fountains, among others, according to the city parks website. Attractions such as Happy Hollow Park and Zoo’s classes and events, Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park and Arcadia Ballpark remain shuttered for now too.

For more information on parks and amenities that have reopened, visit the city parks department website.

1:30 p.m. July 8: Newsom seeks to reassure amid California’s hospitalization increases

As admitted hospitalized patients have continued to increase in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday sought to reassure the state was ready to manage surges in novel coronavirus cases with bolstered health care capacity, supplies and staff.

In a two-week period, hospital and intensive care cases from COVID-19 have respectively jumped 44 and 34 percent. On Tuesday, the state saw its highest daily total of 11,694 new cases, though Newsom warned this included a previous day backlog of Los Angeles County reporting numbers. California’s seven-day average has increased to 8,116 cases.

Still, Newsom said the state has prepared since the surges in cases in March that strained hospital systems, enough to add federal hospitals in locations such as the Santa Clara Convention Center to meet demand in COVID-19 cases.

“I wanted to give you an assurance that the last four months have been meaningful and intentional,” Newsom told viewers in his briefing. “I hope you feel a sense of that preparedness to meet your needs, to meet your neighbor’s needs, your community’s needs, the state needs, and to do so head-on.” 

In March, when governments began instituting stay-home orders and cases surged, Newsom said the state used 20 percent of surge beds, or additional space for hospital patients due to the pandemic. Now, the state has increased hospital capacity to treat 50,000 COVID-19 patients if needed. In addition to California’s 416 hospitals, he pointed to identified sites for additional surge sites, such as old hospitals and the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, that are in “warm status” ready to meet demands.

Calling March’s availability of surgical and N95 masks “wholly inadequate,” the governor said the state now has 232 million surgical masks and 46 million N95s in inventory. Millions more have been distributed, including to four other states.

The California Hospital Association’s president and chief executive, Carmela Coyle, said health systems have adjusted plans, preparing with adequate supplies and staff training, and partnering with other systems as well as state and local officials to meet needs across the state.

“We’re preparing to surge,” Coyle said. “We’re going to surge differently this time.”

11:59 a.m. July 8: With new health order, all Santa Clara County businesses must do this, officials say

With Santa Clara County’s new public health order set to take effect next Monday, all open businesses — including those already open — must verify they have proper physical distancing, face requirement and case reporting protocols, the county’s top legal official said Wednesday.

In submitting the required forms, businesses can be held under penalty of perjury, according to County Counsel James Williams. This appears to mark heightened public health enforcement as more businesses get set to reopen in the South Bay.

“Our collective ability to be consistent and to have this as kind of the new norm across the board is going to be absolutely vital to control cases and prevent serious and death in our community,” Williams said in a briefing. “We’re hoping that, by having these as more uniform and clear expectations, that’s something that workers and customers — that all of us together as residents in this community — can ensure this is the expectation wherever we go.”

Officials have said the new order is based on broad principles for businesses, with sectors considered higher risk receiving additional guidance. Among the principles, Williams added, are preferring outdoor to indoor activities, “universal, strict” face coverings requirements, and at least 6 feet of physical distancing as well as sanitation standards. 

In addition, businesses must limit spacing to one worker per 250 square feet and a customer for 150 square feet. The county also requires reporting positive COVID-19 cases to public health officials and making compliance forms available to customers and workers.

Under the new order, personal care services can reopen, including hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, barbershops, spas, gyms and fitness centers countywide. The county also expanded small gatherings to include up to 60 people outside and 20 people inside, an increase from the previous June 5 order. 

Still, many indoor activities — such as dine-in eating and swimming pools — as well as other areas where people remove masks are still prohibited. Larger gatherings like sports venues, night clubs or amusement parks, which fall under California’s last phase of reopening, also remain closed.

To verify they meet county public health requirements, businesses can complete mandated social distancing protocols online here.

9:20 a.m. July 8: Here are pop-up testing sites in Santa Clara County this week

Santa Clara County has three free pop-up test sites across the South Bay open through Saturday.

At the Campbell, San Jose and Gilroy testing locations, residents can get tested without an appointment, health insurance or a doctor’s note, and regardless of immigration status or age, though children under 12 need parent consent, according to the county’s pop-up testing webpage. These sites are appropriate for people who do not have COVID-10 symptoms, officials have said.

The Campbell Community Center, 1 W. Campbell Ave., will have daily testing in its Orchard City Banquet Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On San Jose’s east side, Independence High School, 617 N. Jackson Ave., has a site in the C Commons through Friday, 1-6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In Gilroy, the South County Annex, 9300 Wren Ave., has testing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If residents test positive at one of the pop-up sites, they should receive a phone call within three to four days, or as soon as the next day. People who test negative should receive an email, in multiple languages, within five days. If they have no email, they will receive a mailed letter within 10 days.

To find more testing locations, visit the county website or call 211.

9:25 p.m. July 7: County conducts nearly half of all tests by health system, new dashboard shows

Santa Clara County’s health system has conducted close to half of all COVID-19 tests, new Public Health Department data shows, which follows criticism by health officials directed at other local hospitals and clinics for insufficient testing.

Out of all 156,628 tests conducted since January, the county system conducted 71,069 tests as of Tuesday, which is about 45 percent. But in the reporting period between June 25 and last Wednesday, the county’s testing jumped to 58 percent of tests conducted. 

The second highest number came from Kaiser Permanente, which has conducted 32,682 total tests, followed by Stanford Health Care with 29,759 cumulative tests. Meanwhile, OptumServe and Alphabet-owned Verily sites have done more than 32,000 total tests to date.

On June 10, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order requiring large health care systems to test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, people who have been in contact with positive cases, and others at higher risk of exposure because they work in front-line jobs or have attended mass gatherings. 

At the time, officials said county-run Valley Medical Center and its clinics have borne the brunt of testing, which has resulted in the county falling short overall. They laid blame on Kaiser, Stanford, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Regional Medical Center. 

Comparatively, the county’s health systems serve a smaller fraction of the overall population, compared to 1 million residents served by private systems.

“The county can’t do it by itself, the small community clinics can’t do it by themselves,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing czar and a former county health officer, in announcing the June order. “But the large health care centers, the large clinics in this county need to step up and help provide additional testing so that we can meet our goal.”

Since the end of June, the county has met testing goals of 200 daily tests per 100,000 people, per public health data. The testing dashboard unveiled Tuesday comes as Santa Clara County received state approval to reopen more businesses based on meeting public health criteria including testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators. View testing data here.

10:09 a.m. July 7: Santa Clara County receives state approval for further reopening, outdoor dining continues

After an initial denial over the Independence Day weekend, state officials approved Santa Clara County’s request to reopen more businesses under a new health order set to take effect next Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, the county’s 35-page application to verify it met certain criteria was added onto the California Department of Public Health’s list of counties that have received approval. Ali Bay, a CDPH spokesperson, said in an email the document posted meets the state’s criteria.

Because of this, Santa Clara County said in a statement that outdoor dining can continue, while the new public health order will go into effect next Monday.

By attesting to indicators around case rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other requirements, Santa Clara can move further into the state’s phased reopening plan, meaning the county can now begin the path to reopening personal care services, gyms and fitness centers under its new health order announced last Thursday.

The county had been informed last Saturday the state had initially rejected its application. The denial came as armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors on Friday, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police.

The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order. The county disputed that Monday, saying unless told by the state they could not, outdoor dining could continue.

On Monday, local officials said they were in communication with the state to understand what needed to be done in the county to receive state approval. County Deputy Executive David Campos told San José Spotlight the county was denied for increases in hospitalizations, which remained relatively low overall. This had resulted in the county being added to a state watchlist, but Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Santa Clara County was off the list Monday.

Before, Santa Clara, Alameda and Imperial counties were the only regions that had not received approval for further reopening, though the latter Southern California county was instructed by Newsom to reinstitute strict lockdown measures because it’s rising case and hospitalization rates.

County officials have said the new health order to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, gyms, fitness centers and larger gatherings would take effect once the state approves their request or by July 13, whichever comes later. In the coming days, the county will post sector-specific directives related to the new order.

12:35 p.m. July 6: Santa Clara County taken off state monitoring list, Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday 23 counties were on the state’s watchlist for COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations or insufficient testing, but Santa Clara was no longer among them.

Santa Clara County had been on the state monitoring list since late June for its increases in hospitalizations. On Wednesday, Newsom ordered 19 counties on the watchlist for at least three days, including Santa Clara, to shutter indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. Bars were closed altogether. However, much of these businesses remained closed under Santa Clara County’s more strict health order. 

For regions on the watchlist, Newsom announced Wednesday the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams for businesses not complying with state public health orders.

Newsom said Monday six new counties — Colusa, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey and San Diego — were added to the list, while Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties were taken off the original watchlist set.

Still, it remains to be seen how this affects Santa Clara County’s plan to reopen more businesses pending state approval. 

The state denied the county’s application Saturday, which under Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody’s public health order issued Thursday, would open personal care services, including spas, hair and nail salons, fitness centers and larger gatherings by July 13 or the state’s approval, whichever comes later. The rejection came a day after state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told South County restaurants they couldn’t operate, saying the area did not have state approval to have outdoor dining, which was allowed under the county’s June 5 public health order.

10:30 a.m. July 6: More case increases in Santa Clara County as state denies further reopening

The Independence Day weekend saw one of Santa Clara County’s largest increases in COVID-19 cases to date, which came as the state of California denied the county’s application for further reopening of businesses and activities.

The county reported 523 new confirmed cases since July 2, county spokesperson Larry Little said in a briefing Monday. “A substantial increase” in cases came from younger people between the ages of 20 to 49, he added. Meanwhile, community transmission of the novel coronavirus accounted for 58.5 percent of all cases.

Amid the increases, state public health officials rejected the county’s application to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, spas and larger gatherings by July 13, part of a new public health order issued by Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s top health official, on Thursday. In order to do so, local officials must attest to state public health criteria around transmission rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators.

In a Monday morning briefing, Deputy County Executive David Campos said the state issued an initial rejection to the county’s variance application, but local officials are still communicating with the state on what needs to be done to receive approval. It was not immediately clear what spurred the county’s rejection. But as discussions continue, Campos said the state order applies where it has more strict requirements.

He also confirmed incidents Friday in South County, where armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police. 

The county, Campos added, did not receive prior warning about enforcement. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom had announced the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams, including ABC, to identify businesses not complying with state public health orders. The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order.

It still remains to be seen how the rejection impacts the July 13 timeline for the new health order, or if restaurants can continue serving people outdoors. Campos was not immediately available for comment after the briefing.

12:24 a.m. July 5: Santa Clara County denied reopening request by state officials, report says

Santa Clara County has been denied by the state to reopen hair and nail salons, barbershops, gyms and spas, the Mercury News reported Saturday.

County Executive Jeff Smith reportedly said the denial was confusing given other counties were previously allowed to reopen as part of the state’s process where local officials attest to meeting certain public health criteria around transmission rates, testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators.

“They’ve granted variances to basically every other country that’s applied and they deny ours,” Smith told the Mercury News. “It makes no sense.”

On Thursday, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody unveiled the county’s new health order intended to reopen personal care services, including spas, hair and nail salons, fitness centers and larger gatherings by July 13. Many indoor facilities, such as dine-in eating, night clubs, bars and swimming pools, as well as other areas where people remove face coverings are still prohibited.

But Saturday’s denial appears to complicate local plans for reopening, especially as armed state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents told restaurants in South County they couldn’t operate outdoors, which has been allowed under the county’s current June 5 order, according to Morgan Hill police.

The state ABC department said in a statement that Santa Clara County did not have approval from the state to reopen restaurants, so the businesses were technically in violation of California’s stay-home order.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the state would deploy multi-agency strike teams, including ABC, for businesses not complying with state public health orders.

Amid COVID-19 case and hospitalization spikes across California, Newsom has toggled back restrictions in 19 counties, including Santa Clara, that are on the state’s watchlist for increasing cases, hospitalizations or insufficient testing. In doing so, the state mandated the closure of indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. Bars were shuttered altogether. 

However, much of these businesses remained closed in Santa Clara County, which made it on the state watchlist for increases in hospitalized patients.

4:47 p.m. July 4: Santa Clara County reports highest daily count 

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department reported the region’s highest new daily COVID-19 case count Saturday, with 234 new cases.

This surpassed the county’s previous highest count, with 210 cases Wednesday, in addition to Thursday’s reported count of 185 new cases. On March 30, when cases first started spiking in the U.S., Santa Clara County had shown 202 new cases, but local health officials blamed those numbers on a reporting delay from previous days — not a significant new daily reporting increase.

Across California, cases also continued to increase Saturday, with 6,510 new cases reported.

While testing has increased in the county, coronavirus hospitalizations have trended upward, enough to put the South Bay on a California Department of Public Health monitoring list. In Santa Clara County, there were 82 hospitalized patients Saturday, up from just 38 people two weeks ago.

Still, the county’s 14-day positivity rate — a key statistical indicator of positive results out of all tests conducted — has remained low but ticked upward, at 2.2 percent Saturday, compared to the statewide 6.5 percent rate, according to state figures.

By comparison, newly-reported COVID-19 deaths have also remained low in the county. Since Monday, there have been five newly reported lives lost, though the county’s daily reporting period Saturday saw no new deaths. And as the state has averaged 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people, Santa Clara County only has 0.4 deaths with adjusted population.

10:50 a.m. July 3: Santa Clara County officials urge residents to stay home for Fourth of July

Residents should avoid family gatherings or fireworks shows for the Fourth of July weekend and instead go for Zoom calls or other virtual meetings, according to Santa Clara County officials on Friday.

With cases and hospitalizations increasing, the county Public Health Department continued to urge residents to slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when outside, and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet between others.

“This 4th of July, the safest way to celebrate is with only the people you live with,” Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement. “We are all in this together, and gathering in groups means COVID-19 spreads in the community. And the more it spreads, the more it endangers older adults and others at high risk of serious illness.”

For the Independence Day weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom closed parking at state beaches in the Bay Area and Southern California. On Wednesday, he also ordered 19 counties, including Santa Clara, to shuttered indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks. While Santa Clara’s current health order has kept these indoor businesses closed, Newsom urged the 19 counties — encompassing more than 70 percent of Californians — to cancel fireworks shows.

Meanwhile, the state launched public service announcements in English and Spanish to encourage people to wear face masks, which are required under an order by Newsom.

“We all have a responsibility to slow the spread,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is imperative — and required — that Californians protect each other by wearing masks and practicing physical distancing when in public so we can fully reopen our economy. We all need to stand up, be leaders, show we care and get this done.”

Read the full story here.

2:30 p.m. July 2: New Santa Clara County order to reopen spas, nail and hair salons

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued a new order Thursday that would reopen gyms, hair and nail salons and allow small gatherings as early as July 13.

“We acknowledge the COVID pandemic is not ending anytime soon and we need to adapt to the virus,” Cody said. “We need to conduct our lives differently because we’re in it for the long haul. That’s the primary driving force behind the change.”

Santa Clara County is applying for state approval to move into the next stage of reopening the economy, officials announced. Strict social distancing requirements and mandatory face coverings would be in place.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said enforcing the rules would be somewhat of an “honor” system but that he hopes people are peer pressured into doing the right thing.

“Peer pressure would say if you want to met without a mask, don’t meet,” Cortese said. “We just heard that distancing is going to be critical in this next phase to keep things as safe as it’s been… If you’re not willing to be at six feet, then we don’t meet.”

Supervisor Cindy Chavez said county officials acknowledge that COVID-19 cases are rising, but it’s up to the community to follow safety rules to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We’re going to rely on our businesses to be ruthlessly committed to following the rules,” she said. “This weekend is Fourth of July and if we’re not careful, 14 days from now we’re going to start seeing people in our hospitals.”

The announcement by the Public Health Department comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 California counties, including Santa Clara, to close indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums and card rooms to close for at least three weeks. Bars, meanwhile, were ordered to close altogether. The directive was targeted at counties on the state’s watchlist for at least three days.

But Santa Clara County, which has seen a spike in hospitalizations that caught the state’s attention, has yet to allow these businesses to operate indoors under a more restrictive shelter-in-place order. The county last revised its order June 5, when officials allowed in-store retail, outdoor dining, childcare for all families as well as religious, cultural and civic activities to resume.

On Monday, Cody reaffirmed she would issue a new health order this week to end sector-specific strategies and move to business-wide guidelines, with additional requirements for higher risk activities, after first announcing she would revise the order last Friday. Given Newsom’s rollbacks Wednesday, it’s unclear how the anticipated county order might look, especially amid case and hospitalization increases.

“We are evaluating the governor’s statements with regards to how they apply to the County of Santa Clara,” a Public Health Department statement said Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

8:40 a.m. July 2: San Jose enacts Al Fresco “parklets” to expand outdoor dining, shopping

The city of San Jose is taking applications, at no cost, for a business to obtain a “parklet” in parking spaces in front of their businesses as part of San Jose Al Fresco, an initiative designed to operate small businesses outside amid the pandemic.

A parklet is a set of repurposed parking spaces blocked from traffic, often for outdoor dining, a city news release said. The temporary permit — valid through Dec. 31 or until the county’s shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted — applies only to businesses located on a street in a commercial area, where the speed limit is 25 mph or less. In doing so, the city will provide and install traffic barriers at no charge.  

Under the San Jose Al Fresco initiative enacted by City Council, restaurants, salons, cafes, gyms, yoga studios and other retailers to take advantage of the city’s summer weather by setting up shop outside in public spaces such as parking lots, parks, alleys, plazas and streets. An emergency order signed by City Manager Dave Sykes last Friday streamlined the process for parklets, which no longer requires businesses to construct platforms while giving them more room to operate outside. 

“The City is encouraging contiguous groups of businesses to apply as a group, to create a more lively and activated retail and dining street-scene throughout San José’s commercial areas,” a city news release said.

More information and the application is available on the San Jose Al Fresco website.

4:26 p.m. July 1: California reaches goal of amassing 10,000 contact tracers, Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday the state met its goal to amass 10,000 contact tracers to identify cases and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In doing so, the universities of California of San Francisco and Los Angeles worked with state officials to rapidly train the new workforce. There are 10,170 people who will finish their training by the end of the week — with the cohort split between county and state officials, Newsom detailed in his briefing.

Santa Clara County is also on track to meet its plan to organize 1,000 contact tracers by July 27, according to Assistant Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman in a briefing Monday. There were currently 741 case investigators and contact tracers, which has surpassed state thresholds for the county already. 

The workforce is comprised of almost 350 county employees who have been reassigned and trained. There are 50 state staff already trained and working in the South Bay, though the state has committed 500 total workers. An additional 350 residents are volunteering, with more available, along with workers from Heluna Health, the Southern California nonprofit provider tasked by the county to organize the local public health workforce.

In Santa Clara County, contact tracers are 16 percent Asian, nearly 16 percent Latinx, 3 percent Black and slightly more than 20 percent white. Forty percent did not specify race or ethnicity. Of those who identified their race or ethnicity, Rudman said workers are representative of the community, especially with language skills of Spanish and Vietnamese — reflective of communities hardest hit by the pandemic locally.

2:04 p.m. July 1: Newsom extends California order for local eviction moratoria, Santa Clara County ban lengthened

Gov. Gavin Newsom issue another executive order Tuesday extending the timeline for local governments to ban evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic through September.

Already, Newsom had lengthened his original March 16 order to July 28. As a result, the Santa Clara County supervisors adjusted their eviction ban in late May to coincide with the gubernatorial action or until Aug. 31, whichever came sooner. And on June 23, San Jose City Council extended its own moratorium through August.

But in a statement Wednesday, County Counsel James Williams said the local moratorium has been “automatically extended to August 31, 2020.”

Both county and city policies ban tenants from being evicted if they cannot pay rent because of income loss stemming from the public health crisis or subsequent stay-home orders, but the county shields small business renters as well. Additionally, the city and county provide one-year to repay past due rent, with half of rent due within the first six months after each ordinance ends. The Judicial Council, which enacts rules for the California court system, has also enacted policies to limit evictions and foreclosures amid the pandemic. With all the eviction bans, the more protective measure for tenants takes precedence.

In addition to addressing eviction bans, Newsom on Tuesday also lengthened the time for people to get married via videoconference, as well as for mail-in renewals for driver’s licenses and ID cards by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, among other provisions.

5:53 p.m. June 30: Santa Clara County releases school reopening guidance

Santa Clara County officials Tuesday painted a picture of what returning to school might look like for kids this fall: desks six feet apart, face coverings for everyone and canceling some activities such as choir.

Officials released guidance for local K-12 public and private schools for reopening for the 2020-21 school year. But the question of whether schools reopen for in-person classes still remains unclear.

“It will depend on the containment of COVID-19 in the months to come,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody explained during a news conference. “As I mentioned before, we are monitoring a number of factors.”

Read the full San José Spotlight story here.

3:27 p.m. June 30: San Jose Giants announce Minor League Baseball season canceled

The San Jose Giants announced Tuesday that the Minor League Baseball season has been canceled.

In a statement posted to the team’s social media, General Manager Mark Wilson said the San Francisco Giants’ farm team received notice.

“While we were looking forward to another memorable year with our Giants fanbase, the health and safety of our staff, players and fans remains our biggest concern,” he said. “Until we can welcome our San Jose community back for games, we remain dedicated to providing unique opportunities to enjoy a taste of baseball at Excite Ballpark this ‘offseason.’”

The decision to not have the season came as a result of Major League Baseball (MLB), the sport’s top tier, informing the minor league that it wouldn’t provide affiliated farm teams with players for the 2020 season.

“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner.

The minor leagues, which began as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, was founded Sept. 5, 1901.

Meanwhile, the MLB plans to begin its altered season July 23-24 after summer camp for teams starting Wednesday, according to an FAQ from the league. There would be a 60-game schedule where teams would limit travel and instead play most games within divisions, while the league also plans to modify designated hitters, trade deadlines and extra innings.

2:03 p.m. June 30: California program to house homeless amid pandemic to continue, Newsom says

California’s program to place people experiencing homelessness into hotels and motels amid the COVID-19 pandemic is set to continue under the new $202-billion budget Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed.

Project Roomkey, an emergency measure that has taken 14,200 residents off the streets and encampments across 52 of 58 counties, received $1.3 billion for cities and counties to sustain the program, in what Newsom renamed Project Homekey Tuesday.

“Shelters solve sleep, housing and supportive services solve homelessness,” Newsom said in his briefing held at a Pittsburg motel that is part of Roomkey. “That’s the framework of what we now refer to no longer as Project Roomkey, which was our emergency frame, but now Homekey — a sense of permanency, a sense of place, a framework of opportunity to anchor the progress we made in the midst of this pandemic and have something very meaningful to show for it moving forward.”

Since announcing the program in March, more than 15,600 rooms and 293 hotels have been acquired through Project Roomkey, which in turn gets residents supportive services and meals amid the pandemic. Santa Clara County has received trailers from Roomkey, according to state Department of Social Services documents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid for 75 percent of Roomkey’s costs, as San José Spotlight reported.

Tuesday’s announcement came as the state balanced a $54.3 billion deficit caused by the pandemic, a stark change from when Newsom dedicated his state of the state address last January to homelessness when there was a budget surplus. 

In the budget signed Monday, the state will allocate $900 million for Project Homekey, with $350 million dedicated for local governments to acquire properties to house people. Additionally, philanthropic efforts by Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente also contributed, as well as funds from Congress’ $2.2-trillion federal coronavirus bill.

“Despite the deficit — despite the headwinds of stress that we had to address in balancing our budget — we still made a commitment to lean forward, lean into the future, follow through on our commitment to do more and do better for homeless Californians,” Newsom said.

1:02 p.m. June 30: Newsom previews California’s ‘dimmer switch’ to reinstitute restrictions

With sustained increases in new cases and hospitalizations across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom previewed a “dimmer switch” Tuesday to reinstitute public health measures intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Tomorrow, we’ll be making some additional announcements on efforts to use that dimmer switch that we’ve referred to and begin to toggle back on our stay-at-home order and tighten things up,” Newsom said in his briefing. “If you’re not going to stay home and you’re not going to wear masks in public, we have to enforce — and we will.”

The state reported 6,367 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday, California’s second highest daily case increases, according to public data. Meanwhile, the numbers of hospitalized and intensive care patients with COVID-19 continued to grow. The 14-day positivity rate, a key statistical indicator of positive results out of all tests conducted, continued an upward trend: Since June 14’s 4.5 percent, the rate climbed to 5.6 percent. 

As a result of these increases, Newsom indicated he would roll back eased restrictions. Tuesday’s announcement came as the governor on Friday instructed hard-hit Imperial County, which has a 16.5 percent positivity rate, to reimplement its stay-home order. Already, 19 counties, including Santa Clara, are on the state’s watchlist for increases in transmission, hospitalizations or insufficient testing. Four more counties would likely be added to the list in the next 24 hours, Newsom added.

The governor also made a point to address Fourth of July as many families plan to congregate together for the holiday. Family gatherings, he said, have been one of officials’ biggest areas of concerns, not just with bars reopening or people protesting.

“It’s specifically family gatherings,” Newsom said, “where family members, or rather households, extended and immediate family members begin to mix, and they take down their guard.”

9:43 p.m. June 29: Verily says San Jose testing sites are near capacity

After San Jose councilmembers criticized Alphabet-owned Verily for insufficient COVID-19 testing at its two sites, the company says it is testing near capacity.

During a joint meeting between City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Monday, councilmembers Maya Esparza and Magdalena Carrasco, who respectively represent Verily’s county fairgrounds and Police Activities League Stadium drive-thru testing locations, expressed concerns about capacity, registration, getting results and hours of operation. 

The county’s top testing official, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, said the sites have lagged in testing. According to a county Public Health Department presentation he displayed, both sites have not met daily capacity at 400 tests between May 5 and June 22.

“If any of the sites aren’t doing as well as we expected, it’s our Verily sites,” Fenstersheib told city and county leaders in the meeting, specifically citing the PAL site. “We’ve been trying to get everyone to make an appointment to go there, but again, our numbers just aren’t very good at that site. So we really want to try to get both of those Verily sites up to their capacity.”

But in an email, Verily spokesperson Carolyn Wang pushed back against city leaders and Fenstersheib. 

“We are testing around 350-400 people per day at each site (400 is current max capacity),” she wrote. “We do have no-shows on appointments and work to include extra appointments for that reason.”

To date, Verily has tested more than 18,000 people between the two sites since they opened — with the fairgrounds launching in March and PAL starting in May. The PAL site is at San Jose fire marshal capacity on any given day, she said, adding that is why appointments are required and people may not see many other cars during appointments.

When the company established the community testing sites after being asked by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, Wang said they took into account traffic congestion. Verily has testing sites in 45 California cities, in addition to dozens of other locations across the U.S.

“We’ve worked hard to scale these sites and our broader testing program thoughtfully, and are currently working with San Jose Mayor Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Chavez on how we can optimize the sites in Santa Clara,” Wang wrote. “We want to ensure we are operating during the right hours and days, for example.”

5:35 p.m. June 29: Here are free pop-up testing sites in Santa Clara County

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is scheduled to offer three free pop-up sites Tuesday through Thursday with two locations in San Jose and one in Sunnyvale.

At the pop-up sites, residents can get tested without an appointment, health insurance or a doctor’s note, and regardless of immigration status or age, though children under 12 need parent consent, according to the county’s pop-up testing webpage. These sites are appropriate for people who do not have COVID-10 symptoms, officials have said.

San Jose pop-up testing will be held at Silver Creek High School’s Raider Hall, located at 3434 Silver Creek Rd., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Vietnamese American Cultural Center, 2072 Lucretia Ave., between 1 to 7 p.m. In Sunnyvale, the Murphy Park Building, 260 N. Sunnyvale Ave., will host the testing location 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If residents test positive at one of the pop-up sites, they should receive a phone call within three to four days, or as soon as the next day. People who test negative should receive an email, in multiple languages, within five days. If they have no email, they will receive a mailed letter within 10 days.

The region has dramatically ramped up testing to now surpass state and Bay Area goals, said the county’s testing czar, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, in a presentation Monday. Between June 16-22, the county conducted close to 11,000 tests, accounting for 38 percent of all tests despite the county health system only serving about 15 percent of residents.

To find more testing locations, visit the county website or call 211.

4:15 p.m. June. 29: Bay Area counties pause reopening with case, hospitalization increases

Four Bay Area counties announced they would pause easing restrictions of stay-home orders due to recent COVID-19 case increases and hospitalizations, though Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody still expects to issue a new shelter-in-place order in the next few days.

On Monday, Alameda and Contra Costa became the latest counties to announce they would temporarily pause their plan to reopen businesses and activities.

In a statement, the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency said it would pull back its request for the Board of Supervisors to apply for California Department of Public Health approval on testing, contact tracing and health care capacity Tuesday. Approval would allow dine-in restaurants, hair and nail salons, gyms, hotels and bars to reopen, among other businesses and activities. Contra Costa — already with CDPH approval — said it would delay the opening of businesses and activities scheduled for Wednesday, according to a news release from the county Health Services. 

Alameda officials said the county was experiencing increased case rates and daily hospitalizations over the last week. Meanwhile, Contra Costa has been on a CDPH watchlist for its increase in hospitalizations.

Already, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city and county would not yet move forward with state-approved reopening of businesses Monday due to rising cases. Allowing for campgrounds, hair salons and barbershops and dine-in eating to resume Monday, Marin County health officials pushed back reopening tattoo parlors, gyms, hotels, nail salons and massage services to a later date.

But in the South Bay, plans to revise current restrictions under Santa Clara County’s June 5 order appeared to still be expected, even as the county has caught the state’s attention for rising hospitalizations. The region is also experiencing increases in confirmed cases. 

Cody told the Board of Supervisors and San Jose City Council in a joint meeting Monday she anticipated to revise the local order to end sector-specific strategies and enter into a new phase requiring guidelines for all businesses, with additional requirements for higher risk establishments. Since announcing the plan Friday to revise the order, Cody has not detailed businesses that would be affected though.

1:15 p.m. June 29: 72 percent of Californians in counties on state watchlist for spread

A day after seven California counties were ordered to immediately close their bars due to the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a briefing Monday about 72 percent of residents are within counties experiencing increasing transmission, hospitalizations or insufficient testing.

In total, 19 counties are on the California Department of Public Health’s watchlist. This represents an increase of four counties since Sunday, when seven counties were immediately ordered to close bars, while eight counties — including Santa Clara — were asked to close drinking establishments. On Monday, Newsom announced Monday Solano, Merced, Orange and Glenn counties were added to the total county list, approximately encompassing more than 28 million people.

Santa Clara County has been on the watchlist for elevated hospitalizations since last Tuesday. However, the county currently only allows drinks to be served with outdoor dining under the current shelter-in-place order. State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly clarify bar closures are directed at establishments that do not primarily serve food.

12:03 p.m. June 29: South Bay officials express concern over Verily sites

Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing czar and San Jose councilmembers on Monday criticized Alphabet-owned Verily sites for insufficient testing, flexibility and difficulty registering.

At the joint Board of Supervisors and City Council meeting Monday, the lead testing official, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, said as the county has increased testing to surpassed Bay Area and statewide thresholds, San Jose’s Verily drive-thru sites — located at the county fairgrounds and the Police Activities League Stadium — have lagged in meeting testing goals.

City leaders expressed issues when they or their staff have gone to the sites. The Verily sites, operated through a county contract, are part of a state effort and run by city staff. Verily also operates several sites throughout the U.S. in areas hard-hit by COVID-19.

“The Verily sites really are an issue,” said Councilmember Maya Esparza, who represents the South San Jose fairgrounds site. When she or district staff have gone to get tested, it has been empty. She also had issues with registering and getting results.

Still, she said testing outreach overall must be more culturally competent and clear on addressing concerns on isolation and food support if residents test positive.

Calling barriers to getting tested “glaringly obvious,” Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, whose East Side district has the PAL site, added even registering has been difficult, while the hours, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. are not flexible for residents in her district and should be changed to outside regular work hours. East San Jose has the most cases throughout the county.

“We’ve never really seen that site at capacity, which is really unfortunate,” Carrasco said. “Again, I think it’s in an ideal location.”

She also suggested the county or local health systems take over the sites. By contrast, the county has handled about 38% of all tests but serves only 15% of county residents, according to a presentation from county health officials.

“I think that we can be a lot more creative than to continue a contract with a provider that is being inflexible,” she said.

Still, Mayor Sam Liccardo defended Verily’s testing. He proposed using city or or nonprofit staff to get residents tested and get reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I don’t think Verily is the challenge,” he said. “I think the issue is with the city and county can come together to sign an agreement that might enable us to staff up for same day signups.”

San José Spotlight has reached out to Verily for comment. Check back for their response.

1 p.m. June 28: Newsom orders bars to close in seven California counties, recommendation for Santa Clara

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close in seven California counties, while Santa Clara is among eight counties asked to shutter bars. However, the South Bay has yet to reopen establishments for drinks only.

Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Tulare counties were all ordered to immediately close their bars due to the spread of COVID-19, in a directive from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Meanwhile, Santa Clara joined Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Stanislaus and Ventura counties to receive recommendations to close their bars.

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

Sunday’s directive comes as cases and hospitalizations have spiked across the state along with many other parts of the U.S.

The closures have been mandated for counties on CDPH’s watchlist for COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization or insufficient testing for more than two weeks. The counties only recommended to close bars are those on the watchlist for at least three days but not two weeks.

In Santa Clara County, bars, wineries and breweries that do not also provide sit-down meals outside have not been allowed to reopen except for takeout, according to the FAQs of the latest shelter-in-place order. So far, the county only allows outdoor dining to resume. Additionally, the county has also yet to apply for CDPH approval to implement guidance to reopen drinking establishments. 

“In terms of the governor’s recommendation and how it might impact our currently allowed outdoor dining service, we are reviewing the matter and will have a response shortly,” the county Emergency Operations Center said in an email Sunday.

Citing rising hospitalizations that have caught the state’s attention, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Tuesday the county is not quite ready to provide attestation to reopen additional businesses. However, she issued a statement Friday saying she intended to revise the shelter-in-place order by the middle of the upcoming week, but it was not clear what businesses or activities would be able to resume.

6:20 p.m. June 27: Vulnerable Californians place coronavirus fears over economy, survey says

As the region begins to reopen, the threat of the coronavirus remains firmly among the top three worries for many of the most vulnerable people in the Bay Area, according to a recent survey.

The survey, commissioned by nonprofit health foundation, The California Endowment, polled 813 Californians who are people of color, Spanish speakers or have household incomes of $50,000 or less between April 25 and April 30. The questions aimed to gauge attitudes around the virus and the impacts of the resulting economic shutdowns.

Of the Bay Area respondents, the coronavirus ranked the second-most pressing concern, sandwiched between homelessness and the economy.

Read the full San José Spotlight story here.

2:51 p.m. June 26: Cody plans to issue new Santa Clara County shelter-in-place order next week

Three weeks after Santa Clara County’s current shelter-in-place order took effect, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Friday she plans to issue a new order by the middle of next week, with it taking effect several days later.

“I anticipate issuing a new order next week that will mark the end of our sector-specific strategy and the beginning of a new phase, where many activities will be allowed to resume with appropriate risk reduction measures in place,” she said in a statement.

Without disclosing specific businesses or activities, the new order and related materials are being developed, which is anticipated to take effect several days later after the middle of next week, Cody added. This is intended to give businesses time to put safety measures in place.

It’s unclear if the new order means the county is ready for state approval to reopen dine-in restaurants, barbershops, hair salons and gyms. In order to do so, county health and elected officials must verify they meet California Department of Public Health criteria around testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, among other indicators.

On Tuesday, Cody told the Board of Supervisors the county was not ready to attest to the thresholds due to an uptick in hospitalizations that caught the state’s attention. At least 14 other counties were on the state watchlist as of Friday as cases and hospitalizations have spiked across California, though Cody said the prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County remains much lower than other areas.

The county last revised its shelter-in-place order on June 5 to reopen in-store retail, outdoor dining, childcare for all families as well as outdoor religious activities. Officials touted the order as a milestone since most businesses are now open in the county.

Cody has criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom for moving too fast in easing restrictions. Instead, she has advocated for a more cautious approach of reevaluating health orders every three weeks, in time for the novel coronavirus’ two-week incubation period.

1:47 p.m. June 26: Newsom ends state testing task force, opting for targeted testing

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the end of the state’s formal COVID-19 testing task force formed in early April, opting for targeted testing at underserved communities as testing has dramatically increased.

Chaired by Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich and Dr. Charity Dean, assistant director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the task force worked to scale testing from just 31,000 tests at the end of March to nearly 3.8 million tests as of Thursday. In forming the task force, the governor had said “he owns” the lapse in tests.

The state had averaged less than 2,500 daily tests a few months ago, to averaging 88,000 over the last week, Newsom said.

As testing has increased, though, the 14-day positivity rate — an important statistical indicator to find positive cases out of all tests conducted — has risen to 5.3 percent, up from June 14’s average of 4.5 percent, indicating COVID-19 is spreading in the state. 

Most new positive cases are concentrated in Southern California counties, where Newsom instructed Imperial County to reinstitute stay-home orders to reduce the spread of the virus. In addition to spiking new cases, Imperial County recently has a 23 percent positivity rate, according to CDPH Director Dr. Sonia Angell.

1 p.m. June 26: Santa Clara County teachers say they need more input in school reopening plans

Teachers unions across Santa Clara County say they need more input in planning and decision-making as schools look to reopen in the fall.

Labor groups representing all 34 school districts signed a declaration requesting equitable learning environments, enhanced safety protocols and more funding since classrooms shuttered countywide March 13. In early June, the county Office of Education issued reopening guidance, though teachers say they have largely been left out of decision-making by school boards and administrators.

“That’s where the breakdown is,” said Bobby Welch, an Office of Education teacher and president of the Association of County Educators, in a virtual news conference Friday, “because they’re creating this whole plan without the input, and then bringing the plan to the table, when the plan should be created as a collaboration.”

Teachers unions emphasized equity in education, including for access to technology, training and preparation for parents, particularly for those with students who have disabilities. This, labor representatives said, became immediately apparent with school closures as households often lacked appropriate devices and internet access for remote learning, which has disparately impacted families that low-income or speak a language other than English, as well as communities of color.

Labor leaders also voiced concerns with their own safety if they are at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. Bryan Wheatley of the Evergreen Teachers Association worries that, with cerebral palsy affecting his right side, he won’t be adequately protected.

“It is imperative that those teacher voices are heard so that when they come back to school — because it is what we want to do as teachers — but we have to be safe to be able to do our job as we take care of our students,” he said.

Amid historic budget deficits, teachers say more funding is need to ensure safety measures and personal protective equipment to reduce the spread of COVID-19, in addition to adequate instruction and training. Wheatley pointed to a Nov. 3 state ballot measure to tax commercial and industrial properties at market value, striking provisions of the 1978 voter-approved Proposition 13 law that capped property taxes at purchase prices. Proponents say revenue would ameliorate school budgets by as much as $12 billion annually.

Nevertheless, teachers are the ones who see students the most and have insight into what learning learning should look like, according to Maimona Afzal Berta, an Alum Rock School District special education teacher and a Franklin-McKinley School District board member.

“This transition has to evolve beyond what we had in the spring,” she said.

10:42 a.m. June 26: Libraries face $1 million cut under San Jose’s budget

The San Jose Public Library stands to lose more than $1 million in the upcoming budget year, leading to reduced hours and the elimination of dozens of full and part-time positions.

The move came in response to the city’s request to scale back on expenses due to the budget shortfall dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read San José Spotlight’s full story here.

1:10 p.m. June 25: Newsom unveils California’s ‘model of models’ to monitor spread

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled a publicly available California modeling database to monitor COVID-19’s spread.

The California COVID Assessment Tool, or CalCAT, allows residents to download and input data on current projections, forecasts and scenarios of the pandemic’s trends. Calling it “model of models” during his briefing, Newsom said, “We want to make the modeling more purposeful. We want to make it more efficacious. We want to make it more meaningful. We want it to promote a different outcome by promoting a different consciousness and, ultimately, promoting a different behavior.”

Newsom added CalCAT was an effort to centralize modeling from institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Los Angeles while promoting transparency and input from residents. He also said his own daily COVID-19 dashboard would be publicly available too, which comes as cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate are all increasing in California and several other western and southern U.S. states.

The numbers include the effective reproduction figure, the average number of people each infected person will pass the virus onto and represents the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading. Additionally, CalCAT includes short-term trends in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as long-term scenarios based on public health interventions of full shelter-in-place versus eased restrictions.

California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said CalCAT would “be able to use those at a much more local, county level. 

“We know that county health officers and health directors are using this information on a regular basis not to sort of support their opinion, but to really guide their decisions that are driving some of our actions as it relates to our response to COVID-19.” 

View modeling on the state COVID-19 website and supplement data for assessments on the state’s GitHub page.

12:15 p.m. June 25: Oak Grove School District identifies employee accused of coughing on baby at San Jose Yogurtland

Oak Grove School District has identified an employee wanted by police for allegedly coughing on a 1-year-old boy at a South San Jose Yogurtland, a superintendent’s statement said Wednesday.

“We are aware of an incident allegedly involving one of our employees who was videotaped coughing on a baby at a local eatery,” Oak Grove Superintendent Jose L. Manzo said in a statement posted to the district’s website. “The employee is currently off of work and not providing any services to our District students.”

He said the district is cooperating with the San Jose Police Department. Citing an ongoing police investigation, Manzo added the district wouldn’t comment further.

In an email Thursday, police Sgt. Enrique Garcia declined to identify the suspect unless there is a warrant for her arrest, she was booked into jail, or authorities issued a criminal citation. Police aren’t sharing additional information at this time, Garcia said.

Last Friday, store footage appeared to show a woman cough on the boy in line at the Yogurtland, located at 5638 Cottle Rd., police had said in a Monday news release. The suspect, described as a white woman in her 60s, had been standing in line ahead of a mother and the child, who was in a stroller.   

According to police, the woman was upset the mother wasn’t maintaining physical distancing, so the woman removed her face mask, got close to the baby boy’s face and coughed two or three times. The woman then left the business and wasn’t identified or arrested. Police were investigating the incident as an assault.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police Detective Dan Bowman of the Assaults Unit at 408-277-4161. People who would like to remain anonymous can cal the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 408-947-STOP (7867) or submit a tip at this link. Those who provide information leading to the woman’s arrest and conviction may receive a reward, police said.

9:17 a.m. June 25: San Jose reopens sports fields for reservations

San Jose sports fields are now available for summer camp, class or practice reservation, a city news release announced Wednesday.

All summer camps, classes and practices must consist of the same group of 12 or less participants, while following all appropriate physical distancing protocols of at least 6 feet. If sports leagues or programs are interested in offering summer camps, classes or practices for baseball, soccer practice or other contactless sports activities on city fields, they need to contact staff at FieldReservations@sanjoseca.gov.

Although sports fields are open, social gatherings and banned team sports games and practices are still prohibited, according to city staff.

View Santa Clara County summer camp guidelines on the Public Health Department website.

7:55 p.m. June 24: Santa Clara County tallies consecutive highest daily case counts

Santa Clara County recorded its two consecutive highest daily case counts Monday and Tuesday, the Emergency Operations Center confirmed in an email.

Public health data showed Tuesday had 125 new confirmed cases from the previous day. This superseded Monday’s count of 122 cases. County staff clarified new cases represent newly identified since the previous reporting, as specimen collection date may vary.

Still, on March 30, the county recorded 202 new confirmed cases, but officials said the figure represented a reporting delay, not necessarily a significant single-day increase.

The recent case increases come as the state also recorded consecutive highs in daily case counts Monday and Tuesday, while several U.S. states have seen spikes in cases. In a briefing Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom emphasized the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave is not yet over.

4:15 p.m. June 24: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Sara Cody talk pandemic response with Sacramento Press Club

Two of the United States’ most prominent medical experts tasked with national and local COVID-19 pandemic response discussed issues ranging from social responsibility to existing shaky public health infrastructure.

In a virtual Q&A hosted by the Sacramento Press Club, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, and Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody detailed their approaches alongside state Assemblymember Jim Wood and Dr. Sarah Medeiros of University of California, Davis Health’s emergency medicine department.

Fauci cautioned against the binary of complete lockdown or full reopening, especially as cases and hospitalizations rise across the U.S. He also reminded younger people to comply with health orders including physical distancing of 6 feet, wearing face coverings and limited interactions with others. In addition, Fauci addressed structural inequities that have contributed to higher cases and deaths among Black, Latinx and Native American people, often having to do with working in close proximity with others and less health care access.

“We’ve got to get the population to realize that we’re all in this together,” he said, responding to Capitol Public Radio reporter Sammy Caiola. “It is not ‘I’m taking care of myself, I don’t really care about you,’ but what you do will have an impact on others.”

Cody, who helped create the nation’s first shelter-in-place order, described her measured county response, which has come under criticism even as cases have increased more slowly than other parts of the state because of actions taken early.

“We’re making decisions locally, but the pandemic is global,” Cody told reporter Samantha Young of Kaiser Health News. “It’s challenging because, as people open up around us, it has an impact on the case and hospitalization trends here in our county. We’re not an island.”

A day after criticizing national response, Cody detailed her frustration in “very shaky public health infrastructure” from data collection to workforces at the county, state and federal levels. She acknowledged issues with people avoiding health care services for fear of contracting the virus.

Consequently, the county worked to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 while educating people to feel safe, according to Cody.

“We need to ensure have this layered prevention approach so that we drive down the overall prevalence of COVID in the community,” she said. “That’s going to protect our hospitals, our skilled nursing facilities, vulnerable communities and everyone across the board. But we all have to row together, and that has been a bit of a challenge.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Sacramento Press Club Interview, Also w/ Dr. Sara Cody And Public Health Experts

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading voice on the Covid-19 pandemic, will participate in a Sacramento Press Club Facebook Live event at noon on Wednesday, June 24.To view the event, go to The Sacramento Press Club’s Facebook page.Following Dr. Fauci’s appearance, the Sacramento Press Club will host a panel including Sen. Richard Pan, who has been at the forefront of state health care legislation; Dr. Sara H. Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health director, who was one of the first officials in the country to take action to contain the spread of the virus; Dr. Sarah Medeiros, an emergency medicine physician at UC Davis Health and co-host of the podcast EM Pulse; and Assemblyman Jim Wood, a Democrat who is chairman of the Assembly Health Committee.CapRadio’s Sammy Caiola will moderate the conversation with Dr. Fauci. She will join Kaiser Health News’ Samantha Young during the panel.Our thanks to HealthNet for its generous gift to help the Sacramento Press Club bring you this event, and to support our mission of providing scholarships to student journalists.The event is free.To support our scholarship fund for aspiring journalists, please donate by clicking here. https://spressclub.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=296087&module_id=281249

Posted by Sacramento Press Club on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

12:41 p.m. June 24: Newsom threatens state funding for counties that flout health regulations

Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t mince words Wednesday after a budget deal with California legislative leaders, in which he intended to withhold $2.5 billion in funding to counties that flout stay-home orders and regulations that eased restrictions to reopen businesses.

“We’re not here to threaten anybody, but we are now at a stage in this pandemic where we have to demand more accountability,” Newsom said in a briefing Wednesday. “And that’s why we’re attaching two-and-a-half billion dollars to that pledge. It’s not rhetorical, it’s literal.”

In doing so, the governor outlined the path to withdrawing appropriations for counties that don’t meet federal or state public health regulations on reducing the spread of COVID-19. The funding will be allocated on a monthly basis to better monitor counties, Newsom added.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the Legislature’s budget deal that included provisions giving Newsom authority to cut funding for counties. Newsom’s announcement came as the state saw its consecutive highest daily case count and hospitalizations continue to increase. 

Still, Newsom emphasized his approach to allowing local governments to decide regional issues, but called on law enforcement to carry out local health measures. He also blasted people who have threatened local health officials in their COVID-19 response. For example, the Silicon Valley Business Journal first reported Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody received threats, while demonstrators against public health measures appeared to protest outside of her home Tuesday.

“This is not some ideological issue,” Newsom said. “This is about keeping you safe and keeping your loved ones safe.”

11:07 a.m. June 24: Santa Clara County sees increase in crisis hotline calls, but suicides haven’t gone up

Calls to suicide and crisis hotlines have increased in Santa Clara County, but officials say death data for suicides hasn’t gone up amid the county’s shelter-in-place order.

“We have seen actually a spike in calls to our suicide and crisis hotline in our county,” said Rachel Talamantez, a senior manager at the county Behavioral Health Services Department, in a briefing Wednesday. “Recent medical examiner’s office data shows, however though, that suicide fortunately has not gone up during the shelter-in-place.”

The spike in calls reflects San José Spotlight reporting that showed increases to the county Mobile Crisis Response Team, a trend mirrored nationally.

But on Wednesday, the county released data from the Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner, which found there were 27 suicides across all ages between March 16, when shelter-in-place began, and June 1, less than the 38 suicides during the same period in 2019. Still, Talamantez said the office is still investigating deaths, so numbers may slightly change.

Here are resources to help:

  • The Mobile Crisis Response Team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Team members can be reached at 1-800-704-0900. Press option 2 for mobile crisis.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline can be reached at 1-800-985-5990.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Helpline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
  • The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting RENEW to 741-741.

COVID-19: Emotional Needs and Risk for Young Children and Teens During Shelter-in-Place | 2020-06-24

COVID-19: Emotional Needs and Risk for Young Children and Teens During Shelter-in-PlaceFull Transcript: https://pastebin.com/Cad0BXRX

Posted by County of Santa Clara Public Health Department on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

4 p.m. June 23: Cody calls U.S. COVID-19 response a ‘collective national failure’

As the number of new cases continues trending upward throughout the U.S., including Santa Clara County, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody on Tuesday blasted national COVID-19 response.

“The root causes of this epidemic in the U.S. is the collective national failure to invest in public health preparedness,” she told the Board of Supervisors in a report. “We are now managing the best we can county by county. But we’re managing this pandemic at a local level, but it’s not a local epidemic.”

Public health data Tuesday showed 122 new cases from the previous day, among the county’s highest daily increases. There are also recent upticks in hospitalizations and intensive care cases. While dramatically increased testing may be attributed to county case increases, Cody said the virus may be spreading, especially in East San Jose and South County. Latinos throughout the county are also overrepresented in cases.

Cody, the architect of the nation’s first shelter-in-place order, has been seen as a leader in reducing the spread of COVID-19. She has also spoken frequently on public health response with local and national news outlets, and even criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom for easing stay-home restrictions too soon.

12:52 p.m. June 23: Highest daily case count in California as positivity rate continues upward trend

California on Monday tallied its highest daily increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases as the rate of positive cases continued ticking upward, state figures showed Tuesday.

There were 5,019 new cases, surpassing the state’s previous highest daily count from Saturday. In the last two weeks, there have been close to 50,000 new cases, accounting for more than a quarter of all cases since the pandemic began in the state.

California’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued record trends, with 3,868 positive patients, surpassing the previous highest count Sunday of 3,702 patients.

Importantly, the positivity rate — the number of positive cases compared to all tests conducted — increased to 4.9 percent. This is higher than Sunday’s rate of 4.8 percent and July 14’s 4.5 percent.

In a briefing Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom emphasized the state’s first wave of the outbreak isn’t yet over as cases and hospitalizations continue increasing. Most new cases and hospitalizations appear to originate from Southern California, centered around Los Angeles County.

11:54 a.m. June 23: DMV to resume behind-the-wheel tests Friday. Here’s how it will look.

The Department of Motor Vehicles will resume behind-the-wheel tests for California drivers beginning Friday. In-vehicle testing — required for first-time driver license holders and commercial license applicants — has been suspended since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a DMV news release Monday.

All canceled drive test appointments will automatically be rescheduled, which could take several weeks to get tests, the DMV said. Meanwhile, appointments for new behind-the-wheel tests won’t be available until previously canceled tests are completed.

“I’m asking for everyone’s patience as we safely clear the backlog of behind-the-wheel drive test appointments,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a statement. “For all of those Californians who have been waiting, we know how important this is to you.”

In order to do so, the DMV outlined new testing protocols. All behind-the-wheel test applicants must wear face coverings and answer screening questions before starting their exams. Southern California county applicants will have their temperatures checked, though the DMV plans to expand this procedure statewide in the coming weeks.

Test examiners will wear protective equipment, including face coverings and gloves, with plastic covers on the test vehicle’s passenger seat and floorboard, the news release said. During the test, at least two windows must be lowered to increase ventilation. In addition, examiners will conduct more of the test outside of the vehicle, such as when they are providing applicants pre-test instructions.

The DMV plans to expedite the testing process and increase the number of exams it can administer each day, including shortening testing routes. Hours will also be expanded with Saturday service for drive tests in high-volume locations and adding more examiners.

Employees at 169 DMV field offices are assisting customers with current appointments and limited transactions that require in-person visits. Still, the DMV recommends customers use online services.

8:50 a.m. June 23: Woman wanted for coughing on 1-year-old at San Jose Yogurtland, police say

Photo and video recordings appear to show a woman cough on a 1-year-old child in line at a South San Jose Yogurtland on Friday, according to a police department news release.

At about 5:25 p.m., the suspect — described as a white woman in her 60s — was standing in line at Yogurtland ahead of a mother and her child, who was in a stroller. San Jose police say the woman was upset the mother wasn’t maintaining proper physical distancing, so the woman removed her face mask, got close to the baby’s face and coughed two or three times. The woman left the business, at 5638 Cottle Rd., and hasn’t been identified or arrested.

Police are now looking for the woman as an assault suspect. Recordings from the incident show she wore a gray bandana, glasses, long sleeve shirt with gray vertical lines, white dress pants and patterned tennis shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact San Jose police Detective Dan Bowman of the Assaults Unit at 408-277-4161. People who would like to remain anonymous can cal the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 408-947-STOP (7867) or submit a tip at this link. Those who provide information leading to the woman’s arrest and conviction may receive a reward, police said.

8:30 p.m. June 22: ‘Devastating’ consequences as food assistance needs soar in Santa Clara County

Data of food need in Santa Clara County suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has had dire consequences for families already struggling in one of the United States’ most expensive areas to live.

“COVID-19 has really had, you know, a whammy on everybody,” said Jo Seavey-Hultquist, a health care program manager for the county, in a briefing Monday. “But especially, there’s a whole bunch of people that are now newly unemployed. So, lots of folks had jobs, full-time jobs or even part-time jobs, now their hours have been reduced or their jobs have been absolutely eliminated. And for a lot of us, we are living paycheck to paycheck already, and so that’s been devastating.”

Before the pandemic, approximately seven to eight percent of Santa Clara County families were food insecure, meaning they didn’t have enough food to last them throughout the month and couldn’t buy fresh food, according to Seavey-Hultquist. Projections of the pandemic’s effects have brought that number to around 12 percent.

The Second Harvest of Silicon Valley saw twice as many people accessing food distributions, while the total poundage of food has doubled, Seavey-Hultquist said.

Here are more assistance programs:

  • Residents can apply for CalFresh, the state’s food assistance program funded by the federal government. Second Harvest also has a hotline (800-984-3663) to determine eligibility for various food resources.
  • With CalFresh, the county’s Market Match uses an EBT card to go to a market and match the amount of benefits residents take out from their accounts, so a $10 expenditure would be matched at farmers markets.
  • Double Up Food Bucks — a similar matching program operated by the Bay Area urban issues nonprofit SPUR — at six different retailers from Gilroy to San Jose. After purchasing select items, Double Up matches how much is spent by CalFresh recipients as a coupon to spend at those select retailers.
  • Because children often receive free and reduced meals at their schools that have closed due to the pandemic, the state also launched pandemic EBT benefits loaded at $356 per child. Families enrolled in CalFresh, foster care or Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, will automatically receive pandemic EBT benefits, but the deadline for others to apply is July 15.
  • Families can also apply for the county-run Women, Infants and Children program, which provides low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women and parents with kids up to 5 years old with aid to buy nutritious groceries.
  • Silicon Valley Strong, a local philanthropic effort to centralize resources, provides mapping for food distribution and a COVID-19 relief fund to help with rent and other basic necessities.

Read San José Spotlight’s story on the demand for food assistance soaring in Silicon Valley.

4:30 p.m. June 22: Trump moves to restrict H-1B workers entry into U.S. through 2020

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday to restrict H-1B visa holders — often used by Silicon Valley tech companies — along with other visas entrance into the U.S. through the end of 2020, citing concerns about immigrants taking American jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn.

While the Trump administration had already restricted legal immigration for a period of 60 days from April 22, Monday’s new action, which is set to take effect Wednesday, lasts until Dec. 31. In addition to H-1B visas for highly educated workers working in STEM, the order affects their spouses under the H-4 visa program. Trump’s action also restricts H-2B, J and L visas, respectively for seasonal workers, academics and intracompany executive transfers from positions abroad. The presidential action also halts issuing green cards for people seeking permanent residency through 2020.

“Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy,” Trump’s proclamation said. “But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

However, immigrants already in the U.S. won’t have a change of status from the order. Additionally, visas for agriculture, food supply and health care can continue, the order says.

Silicon Valley ranks among the highest in the nation for H-1B visa requests for workers adjusted for population size, according to the Brookings Institute. The nonpartisan American Immigration Council says H-1B workers complement U.S. workers by filling employment gaps in many STEM occupations and expand job opportunities. Instead, low unemployment rates in occupations that use large numbers of H-1B visas suggest a demand for labor that exceeds supply, researchers found.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported more than 388,000 H-1B petitions were approved in the 2019 fiscal year. Most H-1B workers came from India and China, while nearly all had higher than a bachelor’s degree.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Mountain View-based tech giant Google and an Indian immigrant himself, issued a rebuke of Trump’s actions.

“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today,” Pichai tweeted. “Disappointed by today’s proclamation — we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”

1:45 p.m. June 22: Amid rising cases, Newsom says California’s first wave isn’t over

With increases in COVID-19 confirmed cases and hospitalized patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the outbreak’s first wave isn’t over in California.

“We are not out of the first wave of this virus,” Newsom said in a briefing. “We’re not discussing yet the second wave because we still need to work through the first wave of this virus.”

Nearly 36% of all the state’s cases have occurred in the last 14 days, according to Newsom. While testing has dramatically expanded, the positivity rate — the number of confirmed cases per tests conducted — has ticked slightly upward, from June 14’s 4.5% to Sunday’s 4.8%. The number of confirmed COVID-19 hospitalized patients are increasing. Still, health care capacity has remained fairly stable with hospital surge beds, intensive care space and ventilators.

But if cases continue increasing at drastic rates, Newsom added the state could reinstitute more health measures that shutter parts of the economy. He encouraged Californians to be mindful of requirements to wear face coverings and ensure businesses are complying with health orders and guidelines, including physical distancing of at least 6 feet.

“We don’t intend to do that, we don’t want to do that, but I want to make this clear: We are prepared to do that if we must,” Newsom said. “Clearly we have the capacity — individual and collective capacity — not to have to go in that direction by just being a little bit more thoughtful about how we go about our day to day lives.”

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to #COVID19.

Posted by California Governor on Monday, June 22, 2020

12:20 p.m. June 22: California records highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients Sunday

California recorded its highest number of hospitalized patients due to COVID-19, according to state public health data.

As of Sunday, there were 3,702 total confirmed COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized, surpassing figures from late April. Still, the number of total suspected and confirmed positive COVID-19 hospital patients has ticked upward in the last week but still remains lower than daily counts in early April. However, the percentage of positive COVID-19 patients in intensive care has trended downward.

On Saturday, the state recorded the most-ever highest daily count of new, lab-confirmed cases, at 4,515. Sunday showed a slight decrease in new daily cases at 4,230, which was still the third highest to date. 

A key indicator for state health officials has been the positivity rate, or the number of positive cases per tests conducted. That number, 4.8%, has remained stable in a 14-day average, a Department of Public Health news release said.

10:30 a.m. June 22: Santa Clara County to add free pop-up testing site at SAP Center

Santa Clara County residents will be able to get free COVID-19 testing at downtown San Jose’s SAP Center Tuesday through Saturday, county officials announced.

With no appointment, health insurance or doctor’s note needed, the pop-up testing site at the San Jose Sharks stadium is available to all regardless of immigration status. Residents who get at the SAP Center site will receive Sharks or San Jose Barracuda memorabilia.

During the same timeframe, the county will have pop-up testing sites at Andrew Hill High School and the city of Santa Clara’s Northside Branch Library.

The SAP Center site will be available 1-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.

On Monday, Cindy Chavez, president of the Board of Supervisors, and the county’s COVID-19 testing officer, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, are scheduled to host a news conference at 12:15 p.m. with Sharks’ team mascot, S.J. Sharkie. Fenstersheib is expected to test Sharkie, according to a news release from Chavez’s office.

View Monday’s news conference on the county Public Health Department Facebook page. Find a testing site on the county’s website.

11:20 a.m. June 21: Newsom signs California vote-by-mail law for Election Day

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a state law requiring county election officials to mail active registered voters a ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

With a two-thirds vote threshold required for passage in the Legislature, Assembly Bill 860 — authored by Assembly Democrat Marc Berman of Menlo Park — received bipartisan support to affirm executive action by the Newsom administration to move to mail-in ballot elections and limited voting centers on Election Day to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Californians will start voting in just over 100 days,” said Berman, who chairs the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, in a statement Thursday. “In the midst of a deadly health pandemic, mailing a ballot to every California voter, and giving them the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home, is the responsible thing to do. No Californian should have to risk their health — and possibly their life — to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

AB 860, which took effect immediately after Newsom signed it into law Thursday, comes after a Northern California superior court placed a temporary restraining order blocking the governor’s action on the Nov. 3 voting process, but the case was stayed by a state appeals court Wednesday. Critics had said the governor overstepped his executive authority on elections by not working with the Legislature. The two Republican Northern California assemblymembers who took Newsom to court on his executive powers, Kevin Kiley and James Gallagher, ended up supporting AB 860 alongside a handful of other GOP lawmakers.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) has an accompanying Senate Bill 423 to require county election officials to establish a minimum number of polling places and voting centers for the Nov. 3 election. Umberg’s bill has been in Berman’s Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee.

For the March California primary election, approximately more than 75% of actively registered California voters received a mail-in ballot, according to Berman’s office.

2:07 p.m. June 19: Santa Clara County to open free pop-up test sites in San Jose, city of Santa Clara

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced Friday it will offer two free pop-up COVID-19 testing sites in San Jose and the city of Santa Clara next Tuesday through Friday.

At the county-run Valley Medical Center’s pop-up test sites across the area, 6,391 people have been tested between last Tuesday and Thursday, according to a Public Health Department news release. With at least 57 total testing locations throughout the county, residents can get tested at the pop-up sites without an appointment, insurance and a doctor’s note, regardless of immigration status.

“We want to ensure that as we reopen, we do so with the support systems in place that will keep our residents and businesses safe,” Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said in a statement. “With the addition of pop-up sites like this new set announced today, we can better offer these free COVID-19 tests right where our residents and frontline workers are.”

Done through a nasal swab, testing can identify COVID-19 before people feel sick or they spread it to another person. The news release said pop-up sites are more appropriate for those who don’t have symptoms but are at higher risk because they’ve had “significant interaction” with members of the public, which includes grocery store clerks, construction workers, retail associates, first responders and others who regularly ride public transit or have attended a mass gathering.

For residents with COVID-19 symptoms, the Public Health Department strongly recommends they get tested by calling a doctor or scheduling an appointment through one of the community-based, drive-thru sites. They can find a location at the county testing website or by calling 211.

More than 115,000 patients have been tested in Santa Clara County as of Friday, per public health data.

Here is more information on the two pop-up sites opening Tuesday:

  • San Jose: Andrew Hill High School cafeteria, 3200 Senter Rd., San Jose, CA 95111, Tuesday, June 23 – Friday, June 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Santa Clara: Santa Clara Northside Branch Library, 695 Moreland Way, Santa Clara, CA 95054, Tuesday, June 23 – Friday, June 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

1:18 p.m. June 19: Two weeks after revised order, no further reopening in Santa Clara County

Despite Santa Clara County last revising the shelter-in-place order two weeks ago on June 5, there are not current plans for additional eased restrictions as of Friday.

“As you may know, the state of California is allowing several businesses to open today,” county spokesperson Larry Little said in a county briefing Friday, “but we found out earlier this week that personal care services such as salons, tanning salons, nail care services, barbershops and gyms will not be able to open (in the county).”

Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody has previously indicated that a phased approach of at least two weeks, which coincides with the novel coronavirus’s incubation period, can better manage outbreaks. Still, on June 3, County Counsel James Williams clarified it would take approximately three weeks before changes are made to the June 5 order, which would be next Friday, June 26.

“If our overall rate of transmission remains stable, we will be able to continue to ease our restrictions and safely reopen activities on a regular cadence with at least an incubation period between each phase,” Cody had said in late May, when she criticized the state of California for moving too fast in loosening stay-home orders.

On Friday, two weeks after Cody eased restrictions for in-store retail, outdoor dining and outdoor religious services — in what Williams had called a “significant milestone” — a new order hasn’t been issued. Meanwhile, the state issued guidance effective Friday to reopen more businesses and activities pursuant to counties attesting to public health criteria which includes testing, contact tracing and health care capacity.

The county has moved more slowly in easing restrictions than the state of California. Santa Clara is among a handful of counties that have yet to provide attestation to move further into the state’s second of four stages to easing its stay-at-home order, according to the state Department of Public Health.

COVID-19: Q & A Session | 2020-06-19

The County of Santa Clara answers questions from community members and business owners that have come to us via the Call Center, Website and/or through Facebook. Join us Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on Facebook Live at 10AM PST for the latest information on COVID-19.Full transcript: https://pastebin.com/hS3GsXMK*Our panel participants take off their face coverings to allow ASL translators to better follow the conversation. The public is encouraged to keep on their face coverings when conducting essential activity outside of the homeStill have questions and concerns? Send us a question at https://direc.to/dsd9

Posted by County of Santa Clara Public Health Department on Friday, June 19, 2020

10:50 a.m. June 19: COVID-19 testing process in Santa Clara County, no antibody testing yet

In a Friday briefing, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department fielded questions from residents about latest health orders on issues ranging from dentists offices remaining open to traveling outside of the county.

For now, county spokesperson Todd Naffziger said travel outside Santa Clara County is restricted for essential activities such as work or outdoor recreation. He also recommended checking the jurisdiction they’re traveling to and make sure they comply with public health measures there.

During the briefing, officials also provided details about the testing process.

If residents tested positive for COVID-19 at one of Santa Clara County’s free pop-up sites, they should receive results within 48 hours by phone, according to Antoinnae Comeaux, a county spokesperson. Those who test negative should receive results in the mail.

Meanwhile, county pop-up sites don’t have age restrictions, nor should health care providers, Comeaux said. But there are age requirements to get tested at Alphabet’s Verily sites — for people 18 or older — or OptumServe testing, which only takes those 12 or older.

However, the Public Health Department emphasizes pop-up sites are for people who aren’t symptomatic. If residents have symptoms for COVID-19, they’re encouraged to contact a health care provider.

Antibody tests — which determine if people have proteins in their blood showing past infection with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — are not yet available at county testing sites, according to Comeaux.

To find a free COVID-19 testing site, visit the Public Health Department’s website.

8:10 p.m. June 18: Newsom’s state face covering requirement more strict than Santa Clara County

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered Californians to wear face coverings in public — particularly indoors or other spaces where physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible — in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Californians are now REQUIRED to wear face coverings in public spaces,” Newsom tweeted, announcing the action. “Together — we can slow the spread.” 

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for face coverings requires people wear them inside or in line to enter any indoor public space, health care services, public transportation and while working in a job that interacts with the public, food preparation or going through common areas. Already, Bay Area governments — including Santa Clara County and several South Bay cities — have required face coverings in most public areas.

Because more strict health orders take precedence, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced on Twitter residents must follow the state requirement. The tweet said more details related to county health measures are forthcoming.

In the state order, CDPH recommends people wear cloth face coverings over their nose and mouth and securely ties or straps around the head. State health officials said evidence suggests face coverings can help reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Still, the order exempts children 2 years old or younger, people with medical or mental health conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing face coverings, or those who could otherwise not remove a mask without assistance. People who are hearing impaired, or those communicating with hearing impaired people, also aren’t required to wear them. Moreover, people can take a face covering off while eating at a restaurant or recreating, as well as people getting a service where they have to remove their covering. In prisons and jails, inmates and guards are exempt pursuant to facilities’ public health guidelines.

Read San José Spotlight’s story on making your own cloth face covering.

Catch up on our past coronavirus coverage:

Visit our special coronavirus page.

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