Coronavirus LIVE BLOG: June 4 to June 17
Photo courtesy of the CDC.

    Catch up on our current Coronavirus LIVE BLOG here.

    5:35 p.m. June 17: Most San Jose park restrooms open, Communications Hill staircase still closed

    Most San Jose park restrooms reopened Monday, according to a city news release.

    While the news release said park restrooms will be cleaned according to their use, the most frequented restrooms will be cleaned three times a day. Less frequented restrooms will be cleaned once or twice a day depending on usage.

    Still, certain restrooms at Almaden Lake, Alum Rock and Emma Prusch Farm parks remain closed. A few restroom buildings remain closed to the public since they’re being used by children in summer camp, a city update said.

    Other park amenities of playgrounds, basketball courts, barbecue pits, climbing walls, drinking fountains, outdoor gym equipment, pools, rock parks and volleyball and futsal courts are all shuttered for now. If residents don’t follow park rules, they could face fines up to $500.

    Nearly all city parks have reopened, but the Communications Hill staircase remained closed as of Wednesday.

    3:13 p.m. June 17: Hair, nail salons and gyms remain closed in Santa Clara County, but here’s how to help

    Although the state has issued guidance for personal care services and gyms to reopen pursuant to counties attesting to certain public health criteria, Santa Clara County officials don’t plan to give them the green light to resume business yet.

    “We know that the best way to prevent transmission is social distance, wearing face coverings, and avoiding high touch points,” said Betty Duong, manager of the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, in a briefing Wednesday. “These services and industries that we are talking about today require close contact between people and equipment for extended periods of time, which may increase the opportunity for transmission of COVID-19.”

    There is no timeline to reopen nail or hair salons and gyms yet under the latest June 5 shelter-in-place order, though Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody expects to reevaluate orders for revision every three weeks.

    State health officials, however, have issued guidance for gyms, barbershops and hair salons to reopen effective last Friday, while cosmetology, electrology, nail salons, tattoo parlors and massage therapy can resume business this Friday. The guidance to reopening these businesses is based on county health and elected officials attesting to certain public health criteria around testing, hospital capacity and contact tracing, which Santa Clara County has yet to do.

    “It has been extremely tough, very stressful financially,” said Blossom Nail Spa owner Linda Do, who has locations in San Jose and Campbell, during the county briefing.

    Do also spoke about plans to reopen, particularly for an industry that employees large numbers of women predominantly of Vietnamese descent. In the county, there are more than 800 nail shops that remain closed due to the shelter-in-place order.

    Despite the current order, Do has planned ahead, including added safety measures and installing Plexiglas once the nail salon industry can resume business. Her biggest fear is if they reopen but there’s a second wave and they’re forced to close again. But, she said, the biggest step customers can take to help local businesses that are still closed is to buy gift cards to plan ahead.

    “As a business owner, we are facing financial hardship,” Do said. “But with that support, just knowing we can’t be closed forever. We will reopen — I really believe that with the help of the county to set guidelines for us.”

    Read San José Spotlight’s story on how local nail salons are managing amid the pandemic.

    This post was updated to clarify Duong’s title with the county.

    6:55 p.m. June 15: Here are six free pop-up testing sites in Santa Clara County this week

    The Santa Clara County Public Health Department on Monday announced six new free COVID-19 testing sites in San Jose, Los Altos, Cupertino and Palo Alto Tuesday through Saturday.

    County health officials have chosen pop-up sites based on needs in hardest hit communities while increasing testing under the Bay Area’s COVID-19 indicators. Locations do not require health insurance or a doctor’s note, and it does not impact immigration status, according to the Public Health Department.

    In East San Jose, Overfelt High School will host a testing site at its gymnasium Tuesday through Friday 1-7 p.m. and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. The Santa Clara County Service Center Auditorium will have testing between Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The Mexican Consulate in South San Jose is scheduled to host pop-up testing 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday.

    The Los Altos Youth Center will have testing Tuesday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. In Cupertino, the pop-up site at Creekside Park will operate Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Additionally, Palo Alto City Hall has testing Tuesday from Thursday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

    For more information on more than 50 total testing locations across Santa Clara County, visit the Public Health Department website. Residents can also call 211.

    2:17 p.m. June 15: San Jose History Park to reopen next week

    The San Jose History Park plans to reopen to the public June 22 for walking, running, biking and picnics, according to Bill Schroh Jr., president and CEO of History San Jose, the nonprofit which operates the Kelley Park space.

    There is no fee to enter History Park, although all historic buildings will remain closed. Complying with state guidance on outdoor museums, History San Jose has implemented protocols for visitors, volunteers and staff reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. The measures require visitors to wear face coverings at all times inside the park, strictly encourage physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and closing all public facilities, including Pacific Hotel facilities, O’Brien’s Candy Store and Ice Cream Parlor, and G&A’s Gift Shop.

    History Park, located at 635 Phelan Ave., is scheduled to be open weekdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    1:17 p.m. June 15: Newsom stresses California’s stability as other states see spikes

    With several U.S. states reporting spikes in COVID-19 cases since easing public health restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom stressed stability in California’s numbers and emergency response Monday.

    “We have a state that is holding strong in terms of stability in case rates,” Newsom said in his briefing. “We didn’t experience the great spikes as a number of East Coast states did. So as a consequence, we’re not experiencing a precipitous decline in the number of positive cases, but the stability remains and is holding strong.”

    While testing has increased, the numbers of new cases and hospitalizations have remained relatively stable. The positivity rate saw an exponential drop, from nearly 41% in early April, to just 4.5% in June. However, tests in the early stages of the pandemic were far more scant and were administered mostly to symptomatic patients.

    Meanwhile, the state has prepared adequate hospital capacity in surge and intensive care beds. There are slightly more than 3,100 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, with close to close to 53,000 surge beds identified and almost 74,000 total hospital beds available.

    Following the state moving into its second of four stages to easing the stay-home order starting on May 8 by allowing counties to reopen retail, restaurants and other businesses, Newsom clarified California’s hospitalizations and intensive care cases remained fairly stable. The state also did not see figures increase over Mother’s Day weekend on May 26.

    Still, in the nation’s largest state, the Newsom administration has emphasized regional variance, with 52 of California’s 58 counties attesting to meeting certain public health criteria to move further into stage two and now three of reopening. Officials have placed targeted monitoring and support to counties experiencing prolonged increases in spikes in cases, hospitalizations or limited hospital capacity. There are currently 13 counties being watched, Newsom added.

    Using county data monitoring, Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, “we’re getting in front of issues early and trying to help support counties so that as we look to reopen, we stay very vigilant around the data points that matter. And we can support counties and make, in a very transparent way, the decision making known to those citizens in that county.”

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

    Posted by California Governor on Monday, June 15, 2020

    11:14 a.m. June 15: Santa Clara County sees 70.5% 2020 census response rate as deadline extends amid pandemic

    Amid an extended 2020 census survey period due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Santa Clara County is second in the state for its response rate of more than 490,000 households who have been counted, according to Monica Tong of the county’s Office of the Census, in a briefing Monday.

    The county has a self-response rate of 70.5% as of Monday, second only to adjacent San Mateo County and tied with Contra Costa County, per the U.S. Census Bureau. In the last 2010 decennial census, Santa Clara County had a 74% response rate from households. But because the 2020 census kicked off April 1 as shelter-in-place orders took effect, the Census Bureau has extended the time for people to submit their surveys until Oct. 31.

    “We immediately shifted to doing a lot more outreach digitally and at a distance so we keep our community safe,” Tong said. “While we do have the amount of time to participate, which is great, we do want people to complete their forms as soon as they can so we can get everyone counted now.”

    Census data helps determine political representation and federal funding to areas, among other factors. Each year, the federal government allocates more than $700 billion across the U.S. based on census figures, of which California receives about $76 billion. As San José Spotlight reported, Santa Clara County could lose $2,000 annually for every person who doesn’t respond to the census.

    Concern arose when the Trump administration proposed to add a citizenship question to the census, which critics said would lower participation. In June 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the question from being added based on the Commerce Department’s “contrived” explanation for it, and President Donald Trump backed away from the proposal so the question was never added, as Vox reported.

    Residents can complete their census online, over the phone or a paper form. All households should submit a census based on the number of people living at their current residence as of April 1, which can include houses, apartments or where they are staying, like a park. Household census information is legally required to be confidential and isn’t shared by agencies, Tong said, though demographic data on census tracts, or neighborhoods, is viewable.

    5:36 p.m. June 14: San Jose libraries to launch pickup service, free summer meals

    The San Jose Public Library is scheduled to launch its new pickup service Monday, coinciding with the start of its federal free meal program to youth out of school during the summer.

    The new, contactless service allows library members to place requests and borrow physical items from the library’s catalog, according to a news release. This had been unavailable since the 25-branch system’s closed in-person operations March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though online services have continued.

    The Edenvale Branch Library will celebrate the new service at 1 p.m. Monday, where staff are expected to prepare and deliver nearly 1,100 preordered items in one week. Materials will be quarantined three days before being released to the public, the library news release said.

    Library pickups will be available Monday through Saturday 1-6 p.m. To place an order, customers can select their item online or over the phone, wait for an email or phone notification when it’s ready, and finally go pick it up at select locations. Patrons must comply with health protocols that include face covering requirements, designated waiting areas and calling staff upon arrival. For more information, visit the library’s website.

    Select library branches will also kick-off their annual free summer food program Monday, part of a federally funded service by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to youth in low-income areas with grab-and-go meals and activities to children and teens, ages 2 to 18. Meals provided in partnership with the YMCA, Revolution Foods and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley must meet federal regulations under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act for sodium, fat and sugar limits.

    The library’s summer food program — available at the Alum Rock, Edenvale, Educational Park and Hillview branches — is scheduled for weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until Aug. 7.

    Read San José Spotlight’s story on how city and county libraries have been preparing to reopen amid the pandemic.

    3:02 p.m. June 13: Northern California court temporarily blocks Newsom order on November election

    A Sutter County Superior Court judge on Friday temporarily blocked Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order related to voting for the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The lawsuit — filed by Northern California Republican assemblymen James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley — seeks to limit executive authority Newsom, a Democrat, has taken in response to the health crisis.

    Judge Perry Parker temporarily ordered the Newsom administration not act on his June 3 executive action, which consolidates in-person county voting centers to every 10,000 registered voters while furthering mail-in ballots to all registered voters, among other provisions for Election Day. Furthermore, Parker wrote, the administration is prevented “from further exercising any legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and applicable statute, specifically from unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”

    “This is a victory for separation of powers,” Gallagher and Kiley said in a statement. “The Governor has continued to brazenly legislate by fiat without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the Legislature. Today, the judicial branch finally gave him the check that was needed and that the Constitution requires.”

    In a statement, Newsom’s spokesman, Jesse Melgar, said, “We are disappointed in this initial ruling and look forward to the opportunity to brief the Court on the issues,” according to Politico.

    Since Newsom’s original May 8 order granting vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters with limited voting centers intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Republican groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging his order saying it is illegal under federal and state law related to voting and elections. Prominent GOP leaders, including President Donald Trump, have also said mail-in ballots would spur widespread voter fraud, though researchers and the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters have said there is scant evidence to support that.

    On Facebook Saturday, Gallagher emphasized his lawsuit challenges Newsom’s June 3 order, not vote-by-mail.

    Newsom has received bipartisan criticism on his executive actions, with legislators saying he hasn’t included them in decision-making. The Superior Court case is set to next be heard June 26.

    4:08 p.m. June 12: Multiple outbreaks at Santa Clara County construction sites, Public Health Department says

    Four construction sites across Santa Clara County have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 cases among workers, prompting what health officials say is a need for more caution in adhering to physical distancing and safety protocols under the shelter-in-place order.

    The largest outbreak has occurred at davisREED’s Mountain View construction site, where more than 10 workers have tested positive and more than 30 others are being monitored for potential exposure, according to the county Public Health Department. Three other sites — two in San Jose and one in Milpitas — have each had between three and five confirmed cases. All four construction sites have voluntarily closed at the request of the Public Health Department, though officials didn’t specify the specific case counts at the latter three sites.

    San José Spotlight has learned Dickinson Cabinetry and GB Group operate the San Jose sites, while Citizen Corporation has the Milpitas site.

    “These cases emphasize the fact that we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” said Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody in a statement. “With additional sectors reopening, it is vital that everyone carefully follow social distancing protocols to ensure that workers are safe. This includes keeping physical distance and wearing a face covering.”

    In addition to the four outbreaks, nine more construction sites have had at least one confirmed case, and health officials are working to determine whether there are other infected people associated with the locations.

    Since the May 4 revised order, construction activity has been allowed to resume with specific safety, physical distancing and personal protective equipment protocols for both large and small job sites. Local union leaders had lobbied county officials to return to work, which received support from Supervisor Dave Cortese, who emphasized the need to continue building amid a housing a crisis.

    David Bini, executive director of the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, told San José Spotlight the protocols for infections are working how they should.

    “Everybody understood from the beginning that a reopening of businesses was not going to occur with zero incidents,” Bini said. “We always knew that if we started putting the monitoring and tracing at job sites, that cases would be identified. This was a system that was well thought out and put in place by the Public Health Department, and I believe the system is working the way it’s supposed to.”

    11:06 a.m. June 12: See how to get tested for COVID-19 in Santa Clara County (it’s free)

    Santa Clara County residents should get tested for COVID-19 at least once, though workers in frequent contact with the public are encouraged to get tested at minimum once a month, according to the Public Health Department.

    Testing is free and available to all residents, regardless of their health insurance or immigration status.

    A Public Health Department virtual tour, found below, details the process to getting tested at a pop-up site, which includes filling out demographic and consent forms, followed by nasal swabs that last about 10 seconds. San Jose Spotlight reporter Katie Lauer also chronicled her testing experience at East San Jose’s drive-thru site.

    To find a testing site, visit the county’s website or call 211. People who have symptoms but don’t have a health care provider can contact the county’s Valley Connection line at 888-334-1000.

    10:04 a.m. June 12: Free COVID-19 testing in Los Altos Hills

    Residents can get tested for COVID-19 for free Friday at the Los Altos Hills City Council Chambers, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

    Neither health insurance nor a doctor’s note are required, and residents can get tested regardless of immigration status. The Los Altos Hills testing site, located at 26379 Fremont Rd., is available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

    To find more locations, visit the Public Health Department’s testing website or call 211.

    12:10 p.m. June 11: Santa Clara County issues order to get hospitals to increase testing; Kaiser pushes back

    Santa Clara County officials on Wednesday announced a new health order intended to increase testing done by larger health care systems, saying private hospitals have not met demands to better monitor COVID-19 locally.

    Under the new order effective Monday, large health care systems must test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, those 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.

    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. Public Health Department figures show the county averaged only 120 daily tests conducted per 100,000 people, well short of its goal of 200 tests each day per capita.

    “The county can’t do it by itself, the small community clinics can’t do it by themselves,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, who leads Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing, in a press conference Wednesday. “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.”

    Private systems serve more than 1 million residents, Fenstersheib added, most of the county’s population. While not specifically pointing to thresholds for testing or punitive measures for not complying with the order, Fenstersheib believed the new health directive would get the county to its testing goals.

    Among the larger systems falling short, officials cited Kaiser Permanente, Stanford, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Regional Medical Center in East San Jose. During a June 2 Board of Supervisors meeting, Fenstersheib had said there was anecdotal evidence of Regional turning away patients from being tested.

    San Jose’s predominantly Latinx east side has seen disproportionate numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, while the positive test rate for COVID-19 is far higher than the county’s rate. County officials pointed to outreach campaigns in these communities, particularly for monolingual Spanish speakers, to increase awareness about getting tested.

    In a statement Wednesday, Kaiser pushed back, saying it was in compliance with the new order and was one of the first providers to offer COVID-19 testing in early March.

    Along with testing all patients with symptoms, the statement said Kaiser has provided testing “on an individual basis” to those without symptoms. This included more than half of tests for people at high risk of exposure, residents at congregate living facilities, and patients prior to surgeries and certain procedures.

    “We will continue to work with state and local public health officials to suppress the spread of COVID-19,” the Kaiser statement said. “By ramping up COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Northern California, we are providing the level of testing that’s necessary to help reopen the state, support our members, and contain the spread of the virus.”

    Fenstersheib said private hospitals have communicated inadequate supplies of test kits and reagents needed to monitor COVID-19 cases. Moving forward, though, the state will help provide supplies to ameliorate those shortages.

    “We want to make sure that everybody who needs a test, gets a test,” County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith told reporters. “It’s a dangerous time right now, and the only way that we can protect the community and protect the residents is with testing, appropriate tracing and isolation.”

    10:10 a.m. June 11: San Jose’s 13 dog parks now open

    San Jose’s 13 dog parks reopened Tuesday, according to the city parks department.

    Residents and their pets who choose to use dog parks must follow posted signage and abide by Santa Clara County Public Health Department orders and conditions, including staying home if sick and maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others. Face coverings are required except for children younger than 6 or people otherwise medically advised not to wear one.

    In addition, dog park visitors must stay out of closed areas and not share recreational equipment with others. Because water fountains remain closed, the city asks people to bring their own water.

    The following city dog parks are now open: Butcher, Cannery, Del Monte, Discovery, Esther Medina, Jeffrey Fontana, Miyuki, Raleigh, Ryland, Saratoga Creek, Selma Olinder, St. James and Watson.

    9 a.m. June 11: San Jose’s Alum Rock Park reopens

    Alum Rock Park reopened Thursday morning with limited parking and restroom facilities available to the public, according to a city of San Jose news release. The east side park had been closed since March 27, along with the Communications Hill staircase and trail, due to concerns of overcrowding that risked the potential spread of COVID-19.

    Visitors to Alum Rock Park must bring their own water, with drinking fountains closed, and they’re not allowed to use picnic tables or barbecue pits. Instead, the city asked people to bring their own tables, chairs or barbecues. All entrants must practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet, follow posted signage and abide by Santa Clara County Public Health Department orders and park rules.

    Alum Rock Park’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the parking lot closing at 6:30 p.m.

    5:30 p.m. June 10: Santa Clara County issues order to get hospitals to increase testing

    Santa Clara County officials on Wednesday announced a new health order intended to increase testing done by larger health care systems, saying private hospitals have not met demands to better monitor COVID-19 locally.

    Under the new order effective Monday, large health care systems must test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, those 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.

    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. Public Health Department figures show the county averaged only 120 daily tests conducted per 100,000 people, well short of its goal of 200 tests each day per capita.

    “The county can’t do it by itself, the small community clinics can’t do it by themselves,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, who leads Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing, in a press conference Wednesday. “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.”

    Private systems serve more than 1 million residents, Fenstersheib added, most of the county’s population. While not specifically pointing to thresholds for testing or punitive measures for not complying with the order, Fenstersheib believed the new health directive would get the county to its testing goals.

    Among the larger systems falling short, officials cited Kaiser Permanente, Stanford, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Regional Medical Center in East San Jose. During a June 2 Board of Supervisors meeting, Fenstersheib had said there was anecdotal evidence of Regional turning away patients from being tested.

    San Jose’s predominantly Latinx east side has seen disproportionate numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, while the positive test rate for COVID-19 is far higher than the county’s rate. County officials pointed to outreach campaigns in these communities, particularly for monolingual Spanish speakers, to increase awareness about getting tested.

    Fenstersheib said private hospitals have communicated inadequate supplies of test kits and reagents needed to monitor COVID-19 cases. Moving forward, though, the state will help provide supplies to ameliorate those shortages.

    “We want to make sure that everybody who needs a test, gets a test,” County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith told reporters. “It’s a dangerous time right now, and the only way that we can protect the community and protect the residents is with testing, appropriate tracing and isolation.”

    5:15 p.m. June 10: Judicial Council moves to end $0 emergency bail schedule in California

    The state Judicial Council on Wednesday moved to rescind California courts’ emergency bail schedule of $0 for most misdemeanors and lower-level felonies, which had been intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in jails and surrounding areas.

    In a 17-2 vote, the council ended the temporary bail schedule for people accused of certain crimes effective June 20, according to a Judicial Council news release. Officials cited the need for the bail changes as the state begins easing stay-at-home orders, while courts have restored services previously shuttered due to the pandemic.

    “The Judicial Council’s action better reflects the current needs of our state, which has different health concerns and restrictions county-to-county based on the threat posed by COVID-19,” said state Supreme Court Associate Justice Marsha Slough, a Judicial Council member and chair of the Executive and Planning Committee, in a statement. “We urge local courts to continue to use the emergency COVID-19 bail schedule where necessary to protect the health of the community, the courts and the incarcerated.”

    Additionally, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye rescinded her order extending time for defendants to be arraigned, so defendants will again be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest.

    If health conditions worsen or change, the Judicial Council may reinstitute these measures.

    4:43 p.m. June 10: California Supreme Court chief justice suspends vote to end eviction, foreclosure protections

    California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Wednesday suspended a vote by state courts’ rule-making body to end emergency rules that currently limit evictions and judicial foreclosures amid the novel coronavirus pandemic

    Wednesday’s vote by the state Judicial Council would have sunset provisions that curtailed court eviction and foreclosure proceedings by Aug. 3. In a statement, Cantil-Sakauye said she made the decision after speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislators and Judicial Council members, as well as residents.

    “I believe the executive and legislative branches need more time to sort through various policy proposals,” she said.

    The Judicial Council’s vote was intended to shift decision-making over evictions and foreclosures amid the pandemic to the Legislature, according to a staff report. Under a previous executive order by Newsom, the council assumed a policymaking role on issues such as evictions, foreclosures and bail, the latter of which was set at $0 for most misdemeanors and lower-level felonies in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in facilities.

    “The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “At the beginning of the statewide shelter-in-place orders, the Legislature was not in session and the judicial branch was a constitutional partner with the executive branch in adopting temporary, emergency rules designed to protect the public and our justice system. We will work with the governor and legislative leaders on an updated time frame for amending, sunsetting, or repealing the Judicial Council’s rules, orders or other actions taken under the authority assigned to us under the governor’s executive order.”

    Still, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley said in a statement that tenants will need protection from evictions until legislators solve the ongoing issue of rent debts accrued during the pandemic.

    “Now that the Judicial Council has preserved this critical eviction protection, we urge our legislators to act quickly to cancel the rent debt that tenants owe, or prohibit landlords from evicting tenants to collect this rent debt,” the Law Foundation statement said.

    At its meeting Wednesday, the Judicial Council is also expected to announce by 5 p.m.  its decision on ending the current pandemic bail schedule.

    12:06 p.m. June 10: California’s big city mayors call for nearly $1 billion in state funding for homelessness, argue for police reform

    Amid negotiations to forge a balanced state budget while facing a projected $54.3 billion deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mayors of California’s largest cities called on the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to incorporate nearly $1 billion to address homelessness.

    In a press conference Wednesday, city leaders announced their support for legislators to include $350 million in existing flexible funding for local governments under one-time state allocations for homelessness intervention, in addition to $600 million of federal coronavirus relief for cities to house people in hotels, motels and other solutions. Officials touted existing progress to house homeless people but are now threatened with budget cuts, including Project Room Key, a state program to house homeless residents in hotels and motels amid the pandemic.

    “Homelessness is a crisis in all of our cities and indeed throughout the state of California,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who heads the mayors’ coalition from the state’s largest cities. “We are all grappling with crises that have arisen since, but we know when our current crises resolve, homelessness will continue to be a crisis in each of our cities.”

    Mayors also addressed racial inequities in homelessness, as black residents tend to be overrepresented across the state.

    “We are in a moment of national reckoning that demands we dismantle systemic racism,” said Mayor Libby Schaff of Oakland, where Black people account for 70% of homeless people but only about 24% of the city’s overall population. “There are few more visible, more inhumane manifestations of systemic racism than homelessness.”

    In light of calls to defund police departments after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, city officials argued for reform, particularly around homeless services from law enforcement. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, co-chair of Newsom’s commission on homelessness, pointed to added stress and trauma often created by police responses to mental health calls.

    “We have an opportunity to actually create some systemic change here,” Steinberg said. “None of it easy, but I think this is a tremendous moment to ask the fundamental question of what do we actually expect our police officers to do, and what do we want them not to do?”

    The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by next Monday.

    LIVE NOW: Big City Mayors

    I’m joined by members of the Big City Mayors coalition to support the Legislature’s inclusion of $350 million in flexible funding for local governments to fight homelessness, and the Governor’s proposal to use $600 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for homeless housing solutions, including hotels and motels. While the economy faces severe free fall, the cost of these priorities comes at a bargain compared to the cost of doing nothing to deal with our twin crises, homelessness and COVID-19.

    Posted by Sam Liccardo on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    9:10 a.m. June 10: California Judicial Council to consider ending protections for evictions, foreclosures

    California courts’ top rule-making body on Wednesday will consider ending protections on evictions and foreclosures, in a move proponents say gives power back to the Legislature as stay-at-home orders are eased, though critics believe it will prompt mass evictions.

    In early April, the Judicial Council of California adopted 13 emergency rules that included banning eviction and foreclosure filings unless there were public health or safety issues until Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state of emergency declaration is lifted and 90 days afterward. Committee chairs of the Judicial Council now propose to amend emergency rules on evictions and foreclosures to sunset Aug. 3, as state legislators work to address these issues and courts can reopen, often with remote technology.

    “(Given) the length of time for which the formal state of emergency may be in place, the state’s changing responses to the pandemic and the efforts of courts to resume operations, the chairs decided that an adjustment of the sunset of these rules was appropriate,” said a Judicial Council report for the proposed changes to evictions and foreclosures.

    But the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley said the changes on evictions would prompt mass evictions amid the pandemic. The foundation alone has received approximately 1,400 calls from Santa Clara County residents seeking legal assistance for housing-related matters since March 15, just prior to when the county’s shelter-in-place order took effect, according to a letter Tuesday from Nadia Aziz, directing attorney on housing issues at the Law Foundation, to the Judicial Council.

    “Lifting this rule would not give the Legislature time to offer a fix and would certainly further threaten the lives of thousands of tenants in our community by putting them at risk of homelessness and COVID-19 exposure,” Aziz wrote.

    Additionally, courts had placed bail at $0 for most misdemeanors and minor felonies as an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in jails. But citing variance by counties in the public health crisis and their timelines to reopen, the Judicial Council on Wednesday will consider ending the emergency bail schedule June 20.

    The Judicial Council is scheduled to meet virtually at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Access the agenda here.

    6:10 p.m. June 9: Santa Clara County monitored by state for hospitalizations, top health official says it’s because of easing restrictions

    Santa Clara is among nine California counties being monitored for spikes in new cases or hospitalizations of COVID-19 by the state Department of Public Health, with the top local health official saying it’s due to easing stay-at-home restrictions.

    State health officials said Santa Clara County is experiencing increasing hospitalizations, with 69 hospitalized patients for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday. Although the percentage change in hospitalizations shows an increase, the Department of Public Health noted the overall number of patients is low compared with Santa Clara County’s size.

    On Monday, county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told the Board of Supervisors the small uptick in hospitalized patients was due to easing shelter-in-place order restrictions in the middle of May.

    Drivers of county hospitalization increases, state officials added, may include more testing of people who seek hospital care in the county and patient transfers from outside the county, or increased transmission among residents or surrounding communities who sought care in the county.

    To address increases, state officials recommended improving coordination and communication between the county Public Health Department and local hospitals to identify underlying causes; data collection from hospitals that serve large proportions of out-of-county patients to confirm place of residence; and increased public messaging, in multiple languages, on personal protection measures risks with mass gatherings.

    In addition to Santa Clara, the counties of Fresno, Imperial, Kings, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin and Tulare have all seen increased hospitalizations or elevated transmission of COVID-19, according to the state Department of Public Health.

    1:45 p.m. June 9: San Jose, Santa Clara County libraries begin process of reopening

    Santa Clara County and San Jose libraries are beginning the process of reopening with curbside book checkouts and drop-offs later this month.

    With anticipated reopening in mid-June, Santa Clara County Librarian Jennifer Weeks says community and employee safety is her biggest concern, but she understands that libraries can safely follow a similar trajectory as retail with materials available for drop-off and pick-up outside. Similarly, the San Jose Public library — which operates 25 locations throughout the city — is also planning its own Monday through Saturday curbside service starting June 15.

    “We’re not putting anybody (in close contact with each other) for some time,” Weeks said. “We are absolutely considering carefully each step we take.”

    Read the San José Spotlight story here.

    10:38 a.m. June 9: San Jose resumes parking, traffic control patrols through phased approach

    San Jose parking and traffic control officers resumed vehicle patrols Monday since they were halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Done through a phased approach to enforcement, officers will identify nonoperational vehicles, which are illegal to park on city streets, and leave warnings for owners, according to a city news release. Actual towing of these vehicles will begin Monday.

    The next phase of enforcement — expected later in June — will include identifying and issuing warnings for safety-related parking violations, such as blocking curb ramps, bike lanes, sidewalks and red curbs.

    “Parking compliance activities are being phased in thoughtfully, addressing potential health and safety concerns while remaining sensitive to the community’s economic concerns as well as public health order protocols,” the city news release said.

    10:21 a.m. June 9: Movie theaters, family entertainment centers in California receive reopening guidance

    Movie theaters and other family entertainment centers received state guidance Monday to reopen at the end of the week, pending prior approval by counties to attest to certain criteria with the California Department of Public Health.

    Along with theaters, bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades can resume services as early as Friday with physical distancing of at least 6 feet between patrons and limited attendance, according to the guidance. At movie theaters, capacity cannot surpass 25% or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. The guidance also encourages reservations to limit theater attendance, and reconfigure seating to maintain physical distance.

    Still, these venues are unlikely to open soon in Santa Clara County, which has some of the most restrictive public health measures intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The county has yet to attest to public health criteria of testing, contact tracing and hospitalization capacity, among other indicators, required for these businesses to reopen under California’s regional variance for counties to move further into the state’s four stages to ease stay-at-home restrictions.

    Per Monday’s guidance, high-traffic areas and rented or shared items should be disinfected frequently after customer use. Whenever possible, businesses should provide disposable or single-use items, including for scorecards, pencils and 3D glasses. Family entertainment centers selling food and drinks should also encourage customers to order online or over the phone. Meanwhile, the guidance recommends installing physical barriers between game, seating or other activities to minimize exposure between customers, or discontinue areas that make it difficult to physically distance.

    But in Santa Clara County, drive-in movie theaters are allowed under the county’s latest shelter-in-place order. State guidance requires vehicles at drive-in venues to maintain 6 feet of distance between them.

    8:30 p.m. June 8: Santa Clara County adds two pop-up test sites in San Jose, Gilroy

    Santa Clara County expanded two free temporary pop-up COVID-19 testing sites in San Jose and Gilroy between Tuesday and Friday, the Public Health Department announced in a news release Monday.

    The two sites — located at the county service center auditorium in North San Jose and Gilroy’s Valley Health Center — were chosen based on testing needs in hardest hit communities, according to the county. With walk-up availability to test up to 1,000 people per day, neither location requires an appointment, insurance or a doctor’s note, regardless of immigration status.

    “We ask everyone to protect themselves and their community by getting tested,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, whose county district encompasses the new San Jose pop-up site, in a statement.  “Increased testing will help us battle COVID-19 and allow us to enter the next stage of recovery as soon as possible.”

    All front-line workers with regular public interaction should get tested every month going forward even if they don’t have symptoms, the news release said. This includes employees at grocery stores, food delivery and retail, along with first responders.

    Both sites are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; the San Jose pop-up is located at 1555 Berger Drive, and the Gilroy site is at 7475 Camino Arroyo. More information is available on the county’s website in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog. County residents can also call 211.

    5:45 p.m. June 8: Local elected leaders criticize Santa Clara County public health officials over latest order

    Santa Clara County and San Jose elected leaders this month criticized local public health officials over a lack of clarity and adequate notice in their plans to ease shelter-in-place restrictions due to COVID-19.

    The criticism, which follows relatively strong support for local measures taken to stop the coronavirus spread by health officials, began at the San Jose City Council meeting last Tuesday. Councilmembers questioned the county’s sudden announcement last Monday of its latest change to the shelter-in-place order — which opened in-person retail, manufacturing, religious services and outdoor dining — beginning Friday. City leaders complained they didn’t have enough time to prepare businesses for the changes.

    Since March, Santa Clara County has been under some of the nation’s most restrictive health measures that have slowed the pandemic’s effects locally. Now, as the county peels back restrictions, city leaders say they’re struggling to stay on the same page with county health officials.

    “I’m a little frustrated by the county in that we didn’t know ahead of time that they were opening things up this Friday,” said Councilmember Pam Foley.

    Read the San José Spotlight story here.

    1:40 p.m. June 6: Newsom issues state order intended to increase availability for over-the-counter drugs, medical devices

    Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Friday intended to increase the state’s availability of over-the-counter drugs like hand sanitizer and medical devices, including respirators, ventilators and masks, that are in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The order allows companies not currently licensed by the Department of Public Health to temporarily manufacture over-the-counter drugs and medical devices. In order to do so, companies must apply for temporary registration and self-certify their compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance. If approved, companies can manufacture the drugs or devices for six months, or until the state Department of Public Health or FDA withdraw or suspend registration or guidance.

    In addition, the order defers renewal fees for up to 60 days for manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, food and cosmetics that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but have state public health licenses, registrations and certificates expiring.

    3:51 June 5: Schools, gyms, bars, pro sports in California to receive reopening guidance, AP says

    Schools, gyms, bars and professional sports can start reopening in California next Friday, according to the Associated Press.

    Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly reportedly said the state will issue guidance Friday for counties to reopen certain businesses considered higher-risk settings in California’s four-stage framework to easing the stay-at-home order. Most of the businesses set to receive rules to reopen next Friday are in the third stage.

    While Santa Clara County’s latest shelter-in-place order effective Friday already reopens summer camps and campgrounds, the state guidance will release rules for schools and day camps to apply statewide. However, only counties that have attested to certain public health criteria for cases, testing and preparedness can start reopening bars, gyms and professional sports, per AP.

    Santa Clara County health officials and supervisors have not indicated they will attest to those criteria by the state yet, reflective of the Bay Area moving more slowly in easing public health measures. Nearly all of the state’s 58 counties have submitted documentation to meet state thresholds.

    Along with physical distancing requirements, AP reported the state plans to provide every school and child care facility with touchless thermometers, hand sanitizers, face shields for teachers, cloth face coverings for staff and students, in addition to N95 masks for health care workers in schools. On Thursday, the Santa Clara County Office of Education issued preliminary guidance for schools to reopen in the fall.

    The state will also release guidance for hotels, casinos, museums, zoos and aquariums to reopen, as well as music, film and television industries to resume, according to AP.

    1:23 p.m. June 5: Gov. Newsom says state will issue guidance for nail salons reopening

    Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will issue guidance Friday on nail salons reopening subject to county approval.

    On May 7, Newsom said a nail salon had California’s first case of community transmission, but he didn’t specify where or when this occurred. The purported case, he added, was reason why nail salons couldn’t reopen yet. San José Spotlight reached out to the state Department of Public Health for clarification on Newsom’s allegation, which said the governor’s statement spoke for itself.

    During Newsom’s briefing Friday, reporters disputed the governor’s earlier claims about the first case of community transmission at nail salons. While he didn’t address those disputes, he said guidance for nail salons will be released Friday as a “how document” but not when they can reopen. Instead, nail salons could reopen subject to county determination based on local conditions.

    Currently, nail salons are among personal services not allowed to operate amid the pandemic, though hair salons and barbershops have been able to reopen with county attestation of public health criteria issued by the state. Since Santa Clara County has moved more slowly in easing shelter-in-place restrictions and hasn’t submitted state attestation, it’s unlikely Friday’s anticipated guidance affects the local nail salon industry soon.

    Governor Gavin Newsom holds a press conference following meetings throughout the state with community, faith and youth leaders, small business owners and elected officials this week on racism, systemic injustice and how we move forward as a state.

    Posted by California Governor on Friday, June 5, 2020

    11:30 a.m. June 5: How to report businesses for violating shelter-in-place protocols

    With Santa Clara County’s revised shelter-in-place order taking effect Friday, officials have provided ways to report businesses that may not be complying with public health protocols intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    Still, officials emphasize education and outreach first, according to Michael Balliet, director of the Department of Environmental Health.

    “Our goal is to help people comply to the extent they can,” he said during a briefing.

    If employees would like to report their work for violating health orders, they can contact the Department of Environmental Health at 866-870-7725. Customers can file complaints of businesses via email at [email protected].

    Residents can also also ask for clarity on the county’s shelter-in-place order FAQs. Questions should receive a response within 48 hours.

    10:53 a.m. June 5: Happening now: Board of Supervisors holds hearing on economic recovery

    As Santa Clara County’s latest shelter-in-place order takes effect Friday, the Board of Supervisors is hosting a special hearing on economic recovery where business owners and community leaders can discuss plans and recommendations for safe reopening and recovery.

    Along with a report from County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith and Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, the hearing has panelists from manufacturing, construction, grocery stores, office workspaces, education, as well as retail and restaurants, the latter two having eased restrictions effective Friday. A second hearing is scheduled for Monday, when more panelists will speak about professional sports, hotels, hair and pet grooming businesses, dentists and chiropractors, among other sectors.

    View Friday’s livestream and agenda here.

    9:54 a.m. June 5: Reopening, recovery guidance for Santa Clara County schools

    Health and education officials on Thursday issued guidance to reopen Santa Clara County schools this fall, though this will likely include altered learning settings and daily operations intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    The Stronger Together Recovery and Reopening plan — developed by the county Office of Education and Public Health Department — contains preliminary guidance for local decision-making around school reopening and community engagement. Bay Area schools have been closed since March, affecting 31 school districts and more than 260,000 students who had to transition to online or other remote learning methods.

    “This planning process requires thoughtful, intentional, and deliberate efforts on the part of school leaders to create the conditions for schools to reopen safely,” said county Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan in a statement. “At the same time, the challenge to provide for the physical, social, and academic needs of students will be critical in this new environment. As the planning process becomes quite detailed and nuanced, it is necessary to hold on to some guiding principles as teams engage in this work that will center on protecting the safety and health of students, staff and families.”

    Per the guidance document, K-12 schools may reopen this fall with physical distancing and face covering requirements, screening all students, employees and visitors, and smaller, stable classroom cohorts, among other considerations. The guidance also requires schools to consider alternatives should outbreaks arise, which includes transitioning between full distanced learning, a hybrid model or complete reopening. Officials also issued an action plan to check-off what needs to be done now, before schools reopen and when classes are in session.

    Still, the Office of Education plans to update how schools may open in the fall by July 1. The planning comes as the state undergoes significant budget woes caused by the pandemic, which may result in significant cuts to K-12 education funding. In late May, Tony Thurmond, the state superintendent of public instruction, said there won’t be uniform school reopening across California, but rather local decisions for returning students to classrooms. CalMatters reported guidance by the state is forthcoming.

    In the meantime, parents throughout the county can partake in a survey to gauge experiences with distance learning and concerns for school reopening. The survey is open until next Friday.

    5:41 p.m. June 4: Downtown farmers market seasonal opening postponed

    The Downtown San Jose Farmers Market seasonal opening has been delayed one week to June 12 due to several growers unable to attend, organizers said.

    The market will be open for seniors and those with health vulnerabilities 10-11 a.m., while all shoppers can go 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

    Since farmers markets are considered essential businesses under stay-home orders, the downtown market webpage says booths will be spaced 10 feet apart whenever possible and have hand-washing stations or hand sanitizer available. Moreover, booths have designated waiting areas for customers, and farmers bag all items. The Downtown Farmers Market additionally requires physical distancing and face coverings.

    For more information, visit the Downtown Farmers Market webpage.

    2:04 p.m. June 4: Nearly half of Californians say worst is yet to come in pandemic, poll says

    A new poll released Wednesday found close to half of Californians believe the worst is yet to come in the pandemic.

    Forty-eight percent of adult respondents said the worst is yet to come with the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Public Policy Institute of California survey of more than 1,700 people between May 17-26. Most people of color agreed with that sentiment, while 51% of white people said the worst of the outbreak has passed — a contrast as black, Latino and Pacific Islanders are overrepresented in the state’s COVID-19 cases and deaths.

    Only three in 10 Californians want shelter-in-place restrictions on physical activity reduced in their local area, including only 28% in the Bay Area, the poll found. Statewide, 46% of people want about the same number of restrictions and 25% want more measures taken.

    On the issue of state governments easing restrictions, the poll found most Californians responded their greater concern is that states lift restrictions on public activity too quickly, while 38% said their greater concern is states don’t lift restrictions quickly enough.

    Nearly 70% of California respondents approved of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to the pandemic, and close to 60% said they approved of his handling of jobs and the economy. Amid a projected $54.3 billion budget deficit, respondents were divided on Newsom’s revised budget.

    When asked about Newsom’s order for vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 3 general election to all registered voters, 73% of likely voters polled said it was a good idea, while less than a quarter said it was a bad idea. Nearly all of likely Democratic voters supported the measure, compared to 37% of Republicans and 63% of independents.

    See the PPIC results here.

    Catch up on our past coronavirus coverage:

    Visit our special coronavirus page.

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.