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4:40 p.m. May 20: University of California schools will be open in the fall, president says
The University of California system — with 10 schools serving more than 285,000 students — is set to open this fall using a mix of in-person and online classes, according to President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday.
During the Board of Regents’ virtual meeting, Napolitano said all UCs will remain open, but she anticipates “that most, if not all, of our campuses will operate in some kind of hybrid mode.”
In order to do so, UC schools would need to meet certain criteria, including testing, contact tracing and quarantine plans, among other requirements, Napolitano said. Once universities meet these standards, administrators can determine whether courses will be taught fully remotely or have students return to campus. Decisions will be made around mid-June, while adhering to local, state and federal public health restrictions.
On May 12, California State University Chancellor Timothy White confirmed all 23 state schools will have online instruction for the fall, though there will be limited exceptions for classes that can’t be taught virtually.
3:18 p.m. May 20: San Jose Al Fresco passes in City Council
In an effort to kickstart the economy once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, San Jose lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal to help reopen some small businesses by allowing them to operate outside.
San Jose Al Fresco, the proposal authored by Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmember Dev Davis, will allow businesses such as restaurants, salons, cafes, gyms, yoga studios and other retailers to take advantage of the city’s sunny weather by setting up shop outside in public spaces such as parking lots, parks, alleys, plazas and streets, once Santa Clara County’s stay-at-home order is eased.
“We’re trying to have our policies all ready to go for when we get the go-ahead from the county and the state,” Davis said. “We’re trying to be forward thinking.”
Read the full San José Spotlight story here.
12:30 p.m. May 20: PAL Stadium hosts free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic residents
Anyone who wants a test for COVID-19 can now get one for free at PAL Stadium in East San Jose, with no need for health insurance or even symptoms.
Located at 680 S. 34th St., this drive-through and walk-up testing site run by Verily is less invasive than before, according to Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s COVID-19 testing officer.
He demonstrated Tuesday how folks will self-administer the test, placing a roughly 3-inch swab in their nose. Each appointment takes around three minutes after waiting in line.
All that staff asks is that anyone interested sign up online – sccfreetest.org – to schedule a time to arrive at the site. Those without internet access can call 211 or their city representative’s office to arrange testing. Verily’s two local sites – PAL Stadium and the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds – are funded by the state of California.
The joint announcement from the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County officials comes as the county is starting to reopen, starting Phase II on Friday.
“This is a great moment for us as we are scaling the amount of testing countywide – that’s critical for us to get to the current goal of 4,000 tests a day,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “Hopefully if we can demonstrate that we can get people here, we’ll be able to scale capacity at those sites as well.”
Fenstersheib said the area is in the “midst of a pivot,” transitioning attention from folks with symptoms to those without, but who are more at-risk or out in public, such as grocery, pharmacy and childcare workers.
“As we move towards opening the county more over the next weeks and months, we know that more people will be out and about, and the potential for increasing their risk for getting infected goes up,” he said. “As we do that, the plan is begin doing a lot of testing so we capture any of those little fires that flare up.”
This expansion is starting in East San Jose, because the data show hotspots across the community — accounting for 40 percent of cases in the county over the past few weeks while only 20 percent of testing has taken place here, Fenstersheib said. He said the goal is to find cases through testing and then reach out to those who had contact with that person — anywhere from 20 to 40 people.
Liccardo agreed, adding that’s also the reason for free testing.
“We’re seeing a disproportionate amount of deaths and cases,” Liccardo said. “There are many factors behind that, but the fundamental one is we know this is where the economic need is.”
John Propst, Verily’s head of COVID-19 testing operations, said the company has so far administered 120,000 tests in the state, with 22 sites now up and running. Once the daily cap of testing 300 people is met at PAL Stadium, he said conversations about expansion will continue.
12:20 p.m. May 20: Santa Clara County supervisors propose cost tracker for COVID-19
Two Santa Clara County supervisors have proposed establishing a COVID-19 cost tracker, in what they say is an effort to increase transparency around spending, especially as governments face unprecedented deficits, according to a news release Wednesday.
At the Board of Supervisors’ next meeting Tuesday, supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Dave Cortese are proposing a spending dashboard for residents to see breakdowns on expenditures. Already, the county has public dashboards to count COVID-19 cases and deaths, hospital capacity and long-term care facilities.
“It is gratifying to see gradual movement towards reopening as each week goes by,” Ellenberg said in a statement. “However, the post-COVID future will be a sobering one that will include hard decisions. In order for those decisions to be responsible and well-informed, we first need a clear view of what has been spent to date, where we still need to spend, and what we can cut that will cause the least amount of harm.”
The proposed dashboard would show costs by date, type and vendor, as well as those made by policy committee and department. Additionally, it would detail expenses by expected avenue of cost reimbursement by federal or state resources, and the ability to view expenses incurred aligned to indicators of lifting the shelter-in-place order.
Officials said the dashboard would also serve as a tool to inform larger general budget discussions in June that supervisors must approve. As San José Spotlight reported, local and state governments face historic budget deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county has a $246 million deficit to its general fund alone, County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith told supervisors on May 12, a shortfall he said hasn’t been seen ever in the county.
“We are facing significant budget cuts for the next fiscal year,” Cortese said in a statement. “We need to know where we are in COVID-19 related costs and spending so that we can plan for our future needs in supporting individuals and businesses who will still be impacted by coronavirus.”
11:53 a.m. May 20: City face covering requirement moves forward
The San Jose City Council unanimously approved moving forward with a mandatory face-covering requirement Tuesday, despite concerns from local law enforcement that it would criminalize residents.
The proposal, authored by Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, would require most people to wear a mask every time they step outside. Officials will draft a formal ordinance and return June 2 for the City Council’s approval.
The new directive comes a day after Santa Clara County public health leaders loosened local health orders to allow certain retailers to reopen for curbside pick-up. The county’s new order mandates face coverings inside all businesses, a notable change from previous orders that merely encouraged wearing masks.
The mandate would exempt masks for people exercising, children 6 years old or younger, or anyone who is otherwise unable to wear a face covering without assistance, as well as those advised by medical professionals not to wear one.
Still, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia was worried the requirement would “drive a wedge” between law enforcement and certain communities.
Read the full San José Spotlight story here.
11 a.m. May 20: Downtown councilmember convenes economic recovery task force
Councilmember Raul Peralez’s task force to address diminished economic activity in his downtown San Jose district has its first meeting Wednesday, his office announced in a news release.
“I have seen firsthand the economic struggles our community is experiencing, and we need to be proactive and inclusive in figuring out how to get the heart of San José thriving once again,” Peralez said in a statement.
Only about 15% of the urban core’s 1,628 businesses are fully or partially open due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the San Jose Downtown Association.
Composed of small businesses and community-based organizations, the task force will include 16 people elected by eight industry-based committees of more than 50 stakeholders and two at-large members, according to the councilmember’s office.
Its first meeting Wednesday will have representatives from the arts, personal care, retail and hospitality, along with Team San Jose, which does marketing for the city, and city staff. Peralez will moderate proceedings. In addition to reports on local industry conditions, the task force has action items to approve its mission and scope, and to elect two co-chairs to facilitate future meetings, the agenda outlines.
“I expect that we will come together and make a comprehensive plan to successfully bring our businesses back to a vibrant, confident and safe environment which will ensure our community a much welcomed return,” said Fernanda Carreira, co-owner of Adega and Pasteleria Adega and a participant in the first task force meeting, in a statement.
10 a.m. May 20: California must resume in-person religious services, Justice Department tells Gov. Newsom
The U.S. Department of Justice warned Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday that California’s stay-at-home order intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 may infringe on religious liberties by not allowing congregations to meet in person.
In a letter from Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, the Justice Department called on Newsom to accommodate religious worship with social-distancing measures as the state begins to resume certain businesses and activities. Currently, religious services must be done virtually in California.
“The Department of Justice does not seek to dictate how states such as California determine what degree of activity and personal interaction should be allowed to protect the safety of their citizens,” Dreiband wrote. “However, we are charged with upholding the Constitution and federal statutory protections for civil rights. Whichever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature.”
Citing essential workforces in California under Newsom’s executive order, the letter argued that the state allowing the entertainment industry to continue in-person work but not religious activities “facially discriminates against religious exercise.”
Still, the Justice Department acknowledged at least three federal court rulings have denied restraining orders against Newsom’s order. But the federal prosecutor said these decisions don’t address the state’s second of four stages to reopening the economy, which includes retail, outdoor museums, shopping centers, dine-in restaurants and offices considered lower risk to the spread of the virus.
The Justice Department said religious groups have created alternatives, such as providing services in parking lots, outdoors, or indoor services with most pews empty, and other ways that comply with social-distancing and sanitation guidelines.
“We believe, for the reasons outlined above, that the Constitution calls for California to do more to accommodate religious worship, including in Stage 2 of the Reopening Plan,” Dreiband wrote.
The state’s third stage, however, includes in-person religious services to resume activity with modification — a move Newsom said Monday could arrive as early as next week.
4:28 p.m. May 19: State lawmakers propose unemployment benefits to undocumented Californians
Democratic state lawmakers requested Gov. Gavin Newsom create temporary unemployment benefits to undocumented Californians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter Monday, 14 state senators and assemblymembers proposed Newsom increase aid to undocumented workers who have lost work with $400 in weekly benefits for up to two months. Undocumented people don’t qualify for existing federal coronavirus relief paychecks or unemployment benefits.
“This program would help address the void created by the lack of actions by the federal administration that has left our undocumented worker population in the cold, without any semblance of support or gratitude for the work they do on a daily basis,” said San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who led the proposal, in a statement.
Applications opened Monday for the state’s $75 million undocumented relief fund Newsom unveiled in April. The current fund only provides one-time $500 payments per eligible adult, capped at $1,000 for households, for about 150,000 people. There’s a separate pledged philanthropic fund that aims to distribute an additional $50 million, too.
Lawmakers’ proposal to Newsom — a Democrat who frequently spars with President Donald Trump and other Republican officials over immigration — would provide aid to an estimated 216,499 undocumented Californians who lost work between March 29 and July 25. However, the letter didn’t specify the program’s projected cost.
The proposal received support from the “Safety Net for All” coalition, which is advocating to expand benefits to people who lack lawful immigration status.
“A crisis like this is no time for anti-immigrant exclusion — yet every income replacement or federal relief program leaves one group behind,” said Elly Matsumura, California director of the Partnership for Working Families and a coalition member, in a statement. “We need to stand by our values in California and hold firm that no one gets left behind.”
A University of California, Merced study on extending unemployment benefits to undocumented immigrants found more than 22% of the state’s 1.2 million undocumented workers experienced job losses due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, non-citizens overall lost almost the same number of jobs as citizens, despite only being a seventh the size of the citizen population.
By contrast, federal coronavirus relief for unemployment benefits allows some residents to receive up to $1,050 weekly. Lawmakers acknowledged Monday’s proposal provides far less than regular unemployment benefits or pandemic assistance, but said the aid helps undocumented and mixed-status families.
“This pandemic has revealed the essential importance of immigrant workers who grow and prepare our food, build and maintain our homes, and care for our loved ones,” the letter said. “California must demonstrate that we value these workers enough for their families to survive during a crisis where all depend on each other.”
Yesterday, I submitted a proposal co-signed by 13 Assembly & Senate colleagues to @CAgovernor @GavinNewsom for a #SafetyNet4AllOfUs w/ ongoing weekly relief for families of #undocumented workers excluded from #unemployment! Thank you @SafetyNet4All coalition for your advocacy! pic.twitter.com/lCDf3Hu8i2
— Ash Kalra 🌱 (@Ash_Kalra) May 19, 2020
2:59 p.m. May 19: 30,000 Bay Area residents expected to receive state undocumented relief aid
As applications opened Monday for California’s $75 million coronavirus relief fund for undocumented adults affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, about 30,000 people across the Bay Area are set to receive the one-time $500 payments capped at $1,000 per household, state Department of Social Services figures show.
Classified as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the Bay Area will receive $15 million — a fifth of the total aid and the state’s second largest disbursement by area. By contrast, the Bay Area accounts for about 19% of the state’s estimated 2.67 million undocumented people, according to figures from the Public Policy Institute of California. Each of California’s eight identified regions will receive at least $5 million in aid for undocumented adults.
Department of Social Services spokesman Jason Montiel said state distribution isn’t further delineated, so it doesn’t specify how much each Bay Area county gets. However, Santa Clara County had the Bay Area’s largest undocumented population at 183,000 residents, per PPIC estimates.
In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced about 150,000 undocumented adults would receive one-time payments through the state’s relief fund. With local nonprofit organizations acting as conduits between the state and eligible households, the aid goes to people who don’t otherwise qualify for federal coronavirus stimulus paychecks or unemployment benefits because of their immigration status.
The total amount of the state fund is $79.8 million, with $63.3 million allocated from the state’s emergency coronavirus response and $16.5 million derived from the 2019 rapid response reserve fund, a Social Services Department document said. An estimated $4.8 million will go to program administration for the nonprofits, while $75 million goes directly to eligible Californians until it runs out or by June 30.
1 p.m. May 19: Undocumented COVID-19 relief fund begins accepting applications
Service providers began accepting applications Monday for relief to undocumented Californians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twelve nonprofit organizations across California will work with the state Department of Social Services distribute one-time payments of $500 per person — capped at $1,000 for households — for about 150,000 adults.
On April 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s $75 million fund directed to people ineligible for federal coronavirus stimulus checks or unemployment benefits because of their immigration status.
“California is the most diverse state in the nation,” Newsom said in a statement. “Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis.”
In the Bay Area, Catholic Charities acts as the regional conduit with the state Department of Social Services to distribute the aid. People who qualify are expected to receive the aid through a debit card mailed to their address, or they can pick it up at their respective provider. Aid is available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the $75 million fund is spent or by June 30 at the latest. Applicants can only apply with the local provider in their county of residency. To apply for state assistance in the South Bay, contact 866-490-3899 or visit Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
Separately, Newsom announced another $50 million pledge from philanthropic partners through the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, which dispersed more than $3.4 million at the start of April.
Locally, Human Agenda and the Rapid Response Network of Santa Clara County are among partners handling direct cash aid in the Bay Area, along with Asian Health Services and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative to help undocumented manicurists. Visit the Immigrant Resilience Fund to donate to philanthropic efforts. Contact one of the local providers to apply for aid.
7:30 p.m. May 18: San Jose launches food delivery program to elderly, vulnerable populations
San Jose launched a food-delivery program Monday to connect local restaurants with eligible seniors and other vulnerable populations across Santa Clara County, providing them up to 30,000 meals weekly, according to a news release from the office of Mayor Sam Liccardo.
As part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide program announced April 24, the local Great Plates Delivered (GPD) — in collaboration with chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen nonprofit — will distribute three meals daily to eligible residents.
“Through this partnership with World Central Kitchen, we will deliver more high-quality meals to more of our vulnerable seniors, while providing a much-needed shot in the arm to our local restaurants,” Liccardo said in a statement.
World Central Kitchen will work with local restaurants and deliver meals through its Restaurants for the People program, which helps feed communities across the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Sourcewise, a service provider for seniors and people with disabilities, will process participant data and meal needs.
With a trial of GPD conducted last Monday, World Central Kitchen contracted with restaurants that met state Office of Emergency Services guidelines and could prepare the required number of meals and meet nutritional parameters. Liccardo’s office said Bloom Catering, Aelitas, Vegetarian House, Pedro’s and Malaya currently aid the local meal program.
“This new initiative reflects World Central Kitchen’s mission to use food as a solution to empower communities and strengthen economies. We partner directly with small family businesses, female- and minority-owned restaurants to deliver these meals,” World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook said in a statement.
The local GPD adds to the public-private Silicon Valley Strong initiative, which has already worked with local school districts, cities and faith- and community-based organizations to serve 2 million meals per week.
“Our older adults in Santa Clara County must be treated with dignity and great care so they can get through the pandemic by eating well and maintaining their physical and mental health,” said Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “This program is a testament to local and state government working hand in hand for the greater good of our community.”
- Restaurants wishing to participate can sign up here.
- Residents in need of GPD meals can call 211, 408-350-3230, option 1, or sign up at Silicon Valley Strong or Sourcewise.
3:45 p.m. May 18: Santa Clara County eases shelter-in-place for retail, associated businesses; requires face coverings
Santa Clara County — along with four Bay Area counties and Berkeley — amended shelter-in-place orders effective Friday until further notice so that retailers can offer curbside pick-up while associated manufacturing, warehouses and logistical operations can resume with modifications, which include requiring face coverings inside all businesses.
The Bay Area has been slower than other parts of California in moving through the second of four stages to easing the state’s stay-home order; Gov. Gavin Newsom has said local jurisdictions can move at their own pace.
“By proceeding cautiously and safely, we will increase consumer confidence, improve resilience, and ultimately we will recover,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody during a news conference Monday.
Cody cited COVID-19 indicators of stable and decreasing new cases and hospitalizations as well as increased testing capacity that allowed for Monday’s actions. The new order, which supersedes the May 4 order due to expire at the end of this month, is in effect indefinitely.
As part of the state’s early stage two reopening, Newsom modified his stay-at-home order May 8 so that retail clothing, florists, bookstores, sporting goods and music stores — plus logistics and manufacturers that support them — could reopen with curbside pick-up.
County Counsel James Williams said the local revisions allow retailers in the county to offer curbside pick-up. The new order has additional physical distancing protocols for all businesses, including one employee per 300 square feet and, now, face coverings, which puts Santa Clara County in line with the rest of the Bay Area. Previously, the county only encouraged people to wear face coverings, while Milpitas, Cupertino and Palo Alto required them. San Jose is set to decide on requiring face coverings Tuesday.
“They are mandatory, they’re not optional,” Williams said of face coverings inside businesses. But the county strongly recommends people wear them in public elsewhere.
The amended order also allows more outdoor activities to resume, such as car parades, outdoor museums, historical sites and publicly accessible gardens.
Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, pointed to national controversies between public health orders and reopening the economy, and said the county is balancing both. “We want to make sure that people can safely get back to work, but we want that to happen in the safest way possible,” she said.
The changes apply to the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara, and the city of Berkeley. Read the county’s full order here.
1:28 p.m. May 18: Gov. Newsom eases reopening thresholds for California counties
Gov. Gavin Newsom loosened thresholds on Monday for counties to move further into California’s second of four stages to reopening certain businesses and activities with modifications.
“Bottom line is people can go at their own pace,” Newsom said in his briefing held in Napa County, which is not among the 24 counties that have already attested to meeting criteria. “We are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions better than any of us. At the same time, we need to hold all of ourselves to account.”
Under the new guidance, Newsom said roughly 53 of the state’s 58 counties can now meet public health criteria in order to reopen dine-in restaurants and shopping centers with modifications, though didn’t specify which parts of the state. The governor’s orders allow retail and associated manufacturing and logistics, along with childcare, offices, outdoor museums and other selected services to reopen. He said regions like the Bay Area can maintain their stricter health orders.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly outlined revised criteria for counties to meet in order to reopen. Counties can have no more than a five percent increase in hospitalized patients over the past seven days; for smaller counties, they can’t have more than 20 hospitalizations in last 14 days. There also can’t be more than 25 people diagnosed with COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, or the test positivity rate must be less than eight percent.
Furthermore, Ghaly added counties must attest to 1.5 tests per 1,000 people per day and 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents, as well as confirming protecting essential workforces, including in skilled nursing facilities, and maintain hospital surge capacity. And in the event COVID-19 cases do spike, counties also need preparedness plans.
“With the support of the state, we are confident that we can continue to do this in a safe and modulated way,” Ghaly said, “that we can come back in the next many weeks with additional sectors and the guidelines for the sectors to open back up, and all the meanwhile watching the data.”
If trends hold, Newsom said attending religious services or getting a haircut would be possible as early as next week, while professional sports without live audiences could be held by June.
10:42 a.m. May 18: Bay Area to ease shelter-in-place orders on retail, associated businesses
Bay Area health officials will issue new shelter-in-place orders Monday that ease restrictions for retail establishments to offer storefront pick-up while also allowing associated manufacturing, warehousing and logistical operations to resume, according to a joint statement.
Some of the businesses that will be allowed to reopen for pickup include retail clothing, florists, bookstores, sporting goods and music stores.
“We are counting on these businesses to consistently follow social-distancing protocols and public health guidance to protect their employees and customers as these activities resume,” the Bay Area joint statement said. “COVID-19 continues to pose a very significant risk to our communities, and that continued vigilance is necessary to ensure that we do not see an increase in spread as more activities resume.”
Monday’s new order applies to the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara, and the city of Berkeley. The Bay Area already has a revised May 4 shelter-in-place order through the end of the month that eases restrictions on construction as well as outdoor businesses and activities.
Monday’s revised local order follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised stay-home order that allow counties across the state to begin reopening certain businesses with modifications under California’s second of four stages to easing restrictions. Under new guidance, counties can move further into the second stage if they attest to meeting certain state public health criteria, though the Bay Area has moved slower than other parts of the state.
In the statement, Bay Area health officials said sustained progress on key indicators for COVID-19 response led to the easing for retail and associated businesses. These regionwide metrics include stable or decreasing new cases and hospitalizations of the virus; more testing each day; improved supply of personal protective equipment in hospitals; and increased capacity for case investigation and contact tracing.
“As we reopen certain sectors, Bay Area residents are still required by health order to stay home as much as possible, wear face coverings, and follow the precautions that have helped the region make progress to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the joint statement said. “As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by our COVID-19 indicators and other data related to the spread of COVID-19 in our region.”
More details on the order are expected to come at 1:30 p.m., when Santa Clara County officials are scheduled to hold a briefing.
9:55 a.m. May 18: eBay Foundation increases COVID-19 relief with $10 million in grants
The eBay Foundation announced Monday it was distributing $10 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief, increasing total efforts to nearly $15 million from the philanthropic arm of the San Jose-based tech company.
“As we navigate our ‘new normal’ amid COVID-19, we all hear — and say — what an unprecedented time this is, and that is undoubtedly true,” eBay Foundation President Allie Ottoboni said in a statement. “And so, we felt it was critical to meet the moment and provide an unprecedented level of funding from the eBay Foundation to underrepresented entrepreneurs and small businesses who make our communities what they are.”
New grants will be dispersed among local, national and international organizations, a foundation news release said. The World Health Organization and Kiva, an international financial services nonprofit based in San Francisco, each received $2 million. Two other Bay Area-based organizations — Start Small Think Big and ICA Fund Good Jobs — as well as Local Initiatives Support Corporation all received $1 million each in grants. The remaining $3 million will go to Global Give, eBay’s employee grantmaking program to support small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“eBay has been an important partner to us over the years as we’ve partnered on employee lending initiatives,” said Neville Crawley, CEO of San Francisco-based Kiva, in a statement. “We are thrilled and incredibly proud to receive this additional funding from eBay, which comes at a crucial time for small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world needing necessary funds due to COVID-19.”
Since the pandemic outbreak, the eBay Foundation has pledged millions, including to medical groups such as the Italian Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Near eBay’s headquarters in the South Bay, its foundation contributed $500,000 in April to the Silicon Valley Strong fund for financial assistance to low-income residents who have lost wages and are facing economic hardship, and $1 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s regional response and nonprofit emergency aid.
“This incredibly generous grant from the eBay Foundation will help save small businesses on the front lines of this unparalleled crisis,” said Jennifer DaSilva, executive director of Start Small Think Big, which has offices in San Jose for under-resourced entrepreneurs, in a statement. “With eBay’s support, Start Small Think Big will be able to ensure that small businesses, who are so often left behind, have critical access to the services they need the most now.”
5:30 p.m. May 15: San Jose City Council to consider face covering requirement
Two San Jose councilmembers have proposed a face covering requirement intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, following similar mandates by a few smaller Santa Clara County cities and most Bay Area counties.
Set to be heard at the City Council meeting Tuesday, the San Jose face covering mandate by Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilmember Sergio Jimenez would apply to most people outside their homes.
“With the ease of restrictions to the County’s Shelter in Place (SIP) Order, as the economy begins to reopen, and as people eventually begin to congregate in public spaces, the wearing of face coverings outside of homes will become increasingly important to everyone’s health, safety, and wellbeing,” Jones and Jimenez wrote in a May 8 memo.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as have local and state authorities — especially with asymptomatic transmission of people who contract the virus.
San Jose’s proposal exempts masks for people exercising, children 6 years old or younger, or anyone who is otherwise unable to wear a face covering without assistance, as well as those advised by medical professionals not to wear one.
Milpitas, Cupertino and Palo Alto already have face covering ordinances, in addition to most of the Bay Area, including neighboring Alameda and San Mateo counties. Meanwhile, Santa Clara County urges people to wear face coverings, and Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told San José Spotlight it would be difficult for authorities to enforce a requirement. But Jones and Jimenez think it would be the right move locally.
“Considering the City of San Jose is the most populous city in the region with a population of over 1 million and 66% of the County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, adherence to this proposed mandate could have significant influence in further flattening the curve and reducing the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote.
Learn how to make your own CDC-approved cloth face covering here.
Wear a cloth face covering when on essential outings. In addition to washing hands, physical distancing, and staying home, face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. For more information: https://t.co/udMeJVRTfR pic.twitter.com/UYTGmc3EVP
— City of San José (@CityofSanJose) May 14, 2020
5:15 p.m. May 14: Five east side, downtown zip codes account for nearly half of San Jose’s cases
New COVID-19 data released by Santa Clara County Thursday showed five San Jose zip codes concentrated around the east side and downtown accounted for nearly half of all the city’s coronavirus cases.
Cases are broken down across the county, with some including long-term care facilities, according to publicly available health data. Figures also adjust COVID-19 rates per 100,000.
The 95111, 95112, 95122, 95116 and 915127 zip codes — encompassing predominantly immigrant, lower income, dense communities of color in downtown and east San Jose — had 758 of the city’s 1,582 total cases as of Thursday. The east side’s 95116 alone accounted for 222 cases, the most of any Santa Clara County zip code.
San José Spotlight reported on the same zip codes accounting for nearly half of San Jose requests for aid through Sacred Heart Community Service’s COVID-19 relief fund, highlighting longstanding racial disparities in Silicon Valley. Nearly all people requesting aid from the fund, which ran out in just three days, were people of color.
“It’s a tale of two valleys,” Poncho Guevara, executive director of Sacred Heart, told San José Spotlight in April.
“People are living in different conditions, in different neighborhoods with conditions of overcrowding, making less money than their counterparts. Here in the same valley, the access to educational opportunities, employment opportunities and health care are all weighted against them.”
Meanwhile, affluent, white zip codes tended to have far fewer cases from the novel coronavirus: Los Altos’ 94022 had just 19 cases, and Los Gatos’ 95030 had only 13 cases.
According to public health data as of Thursday, Latinxs comprised 39% of COVID-19 cases and 33% of deaths but were only 27% of the population. African Americans, meanwhile, were only 2% of cases but 6% of the dead, despite only being 2% of residents overall.
While Asians were 33% of the population, they were 22% of cases but 33% of deaths. At 34% of the county, white people were underrepresented in cases and deaths at 18% and 26%, respectively. Fifteen percent of cases did not have race or ethnicity listed.
The data released Thursday reflects local and national trends of Latinxs and African Americans contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than other populations. The Mercury News reported more than a third of the first 100 deaths occurred in just four zip codes on the city’s East Side, made up of lower income, Latinx neighborhoods.
4 p.m. May 14: Significant cuts in Newsom’s budget proposal to address $54.3 billion deficit
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced significant cuts in his revised budget proposal that aims to balance the state’s estimated $54.3 billion deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As California’s unemployment rate is now a projected 18% and expected to peak at 24.5%, Newsom said state revenues have declined 22.3% since January, when the state had a projected $5.6 billion surplus.
“While the numbers have certainly changed, our values remain,” Newsom said. “We are committed — despite the headwinds of a $54.3 billion-dollar budget shortfall that we are entrusted to balance in the current fiscal year and into the next budget year — to advance not only an effort to balance the budget, but also to balance our principles and to advance our values.”
The Legislature and Newsom constitutionally must pass a balanced budget by July. In his $203 billion budget, the governor proposed using $8.8 billion in reserves, which includes dispersing the $16 billion rainy day fund over three years.
Newsom outlined government-wide cuts of $14 billion. Spending on K-12 education is slashed $7 billion, though the governor plans to distribute $4.4 billion in federal coronavirus relief to schools. He also called for a 10% cut to government workers’ pay — amounting to $2.8 billion — and reducing physical office hours in opt for telework.
However much is slashed, Newsom used his bully pulpit to say his budget rescinds pay cuts if Congress passes House Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill announced Tuesday, which has $1 trillion directed to state and local governments.
Withdrawing new proposals and spending increases by $8.4 billion, Newsom scrapped reform of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, and expanding health insurance to older undocumented residents. However, overall funding for Medi-Cal is bolstered with expected COVID-19 case increases. His budget also seeks borrowing $10.4 billion, raising $4.4 billion through new revenues with temporary limits on tax credits and using $8.3 billion in federal coronavirus relief.
Nevertheless, Newsom’s budget priorities focus on public education, health, public safety and COVID-19 response.
He called for more in wildfire prevention and mitigation, preserving childcare funding to first responders, and not cutting free-tuition community college. To address hardship amid the pandemic, the governor also requested maintaining earned income tax credits, grants for families supported by supplemental income and payments, and health insurance subsidies for middle-income earners.
Since March 12, just a week before Newsom ordered California’s stay-home order, 4.6 million unemployment claims have been filed in the state. “We are at a time that’s simply unprecedented,” Newsom said.
11:45 a.m. May 14: Gov. Newsom to call for 10% pay cut to state workers, union leader says
In a Facebook video Wednesday, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said Gov. Gavin Newsom will call for state government workers to take a 10% pay cut to help address the state’s projected $54.3 billion budget deficit.
She said the governor’s office reached out to the union, which represents 96,000 state employees across California, about the anticipated decision under Newsom’s budget proposal revision expected Thursday. Addressing members in the video, she said the union will look at cost-saving measures including furloughs as a possibility.
“Or, we can call the bargaining team together, and we can figure out the equivalent of what that 10 percent represents and try to negotiate something,” Walker said in the video. “Yeah, there might be a little pain involved, but it won’t be the same two furlough days and how you think about it.”
She also suggested lobbying Congress on House Democrats’ latest $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes $1 trillion to state and local governments that has been requested by Newsom along with other leaders in the Western States Pact.
Previewing his budget revision Wednesday, Newsom said there are “sobering and deep challenges” to address the state’s budget deficit. By June 15, the Legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget or not get paid.
Last Thursday, a state finance memo projected the $54.3 billion deficit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic due to revenue declines and record unemployment.
“COVID-19 has caused a national recession, a precipitous decline in income, rapidly rising health and human services caseloads and substantial COVID-19 driven costs,” state financial analysts wrote.
View Newsom’s briefing at noon here.
10:35 a.m. May 14: California big city mayors ask to extend free internet through July
Mayors from California’s 11 largest cities wrote to executives of six of the United States’ largest internet service providers (ISP) on Thursday requesting them to extend free internet to low-income California families in the state through July.
At the start of government shutdowns that included school closures in March, many providers expanded affordable internet programs to families with K-12 students, typically on a limited 60-day basis. Others established WiFi hotspots for students to connect to the internet at designated locations.
“Access to the internet is more important than ever during a pandemic,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “We are grateful to our ISP partners for providing temporary free internet to low-income families in California, and we urge them to extend these offers and make them more accessible so families can continue learning, working and receiving care remotely during this time.”
In the letter to AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier and T-Mobile, city officials said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated California’s digital divide.
Citing the California Emerging Technology Fund, mayors said more than a fifth of the state was unconnected or under-connected to internet at home prior to the pandemic, meaning no internet whatsoever or cellular connection only. More than 900,000 households have students who are expected to participate in distance learning without internet, officials said. Record unemployment, meanwhile, has likely exacerbated this divide.
Along with extending free internet programs, mayors requested expanding access, including to families with students attending schools with high percentages of pupils eligible for free or reduced-price meals, an education metric for socioeconomic status. City officials also asked providers to remove enrollment barriers by screening all prospective customers for eligibility, increased staff and language options in call centers, and banning up-selling low-income customers.
On Wednesday, California’s superintendent of public instruction, Tony Thurmond, told ABC7 that school districts can determine their own reopenings, with many districts looking at hybrid in-person classes and distancing learning in the fall. Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, plans to have online summer programs.
9:30 a.m. May 14: California assemblymember introduces job-protected leave legislation
San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra introduced legislation Wednesday to allow Californians who are affected by COVID-19 to take a state-protected leave from their jobs, in addition to extending the leave by 12 additional weeks.
The bill, AB 3216, would also allow employees to take a job-protected leave to care for a family member whose school or care facility is closed. The leave would be covered through the California Family Rights Act. The legislation would also provide “return to work” rights for employees who work in hotels, event centers, airport hospitality, janitorial services or security.
“While we continue to work with our federal government and public health officials to implement broader policies that will help promote healthy workplaces and necessary protections for workers, we have to consider that any employee impacted by COVID-19 should be allowed to recover away from work or care for a family member who is impacted without the fear of risking their employment or placing their co-workers at greater risk,” Kalra said.
Read the full San José Spotlight story here.
5:20 p.m. May 13: Palo Alto requires face coverings
Palo Alto became the latest Santa Clara County city to require face masks while out in public effective Wednesday at noon.
Under the emergency order unanimously adopted by Palo Alto City Council on Monday, people must wear face coverings while outside their home doing permitted essential activities — like getting groceries or seeking medical care — or face citations, according to a city news release. Masks aren’t required but encouraged when engaging in outdoor recreation.
“In making this decision, the Council took into account the fact that COVID-19 can spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and the fact that people can be infected and contagious while not showing any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic,” the city news release said.
Local, state and federal health officials agree wearing face coverings in public can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Already, Milpitas and Cupertino adopted face covering requirements in April, whereas the county strongly urges residents to wear them while out in public for essential activities. Most Bay Area counties, including neighboring San Mateo, require face coverings, though.
Palo Alto’s order exempts children under 2 or those who can’t otherwise take off their masks by themselves; people who work in single-room offices as long as coworkers or the public don’t regularly visit them; or while driving alone or exclusively with other members of the same household.
The order remains in effect until rescinded or amended, or the local emergency proclamation ratified by City Council on March 16 for the pandemic is terminated.
Learn how to make your own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved cloth face covering here.
1:26 p.m. May 12: Emergency response priorities amid California’s projected $54.3 budget deficit
With the state projecting a $54.3 billion budget deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic and another wildfire season approaching, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday outlined funding priorities for emergency response with his May budget proposal revision.
“As we enter the fire season, we have to also be cognizant that as we increase our ranks and personnel that we keep our first responders healthy as a top priority…,” Newsom said during his briefing held in El Dorado County, where officials have lowered stay-at-home orders with modifications.
While saying there will be “sobering and deep challenges” to address in the budget, Newsom described additional funding for wildfire prevention and preparedness to be unveiled Thursday in a revised proposed budget. He pointed to the number of wildfires between January and May this year as 60% higher than the same time frame last year, a result of climate change.
Newsom’s budget requests include funding the Public Utilities Commission’s Wildfire Safety Division with 106 members to oversee companies such as PG&E that owe $5 billion in safety measures. Additionally, his revisions include a $127 million increase to the Office of Emergency Services for early ongoing monitoring of hazards such as wildfires and earthquakes, as well as $38.2 million in disaster assistance and $50 million for local governments in power shutoff grants. Meanwhile, the governor proposed $87.5 million to Cal Fire, which includes hiring 600 firefighters for surge capacity, 26 engines and 12 Blackhawk helicopters.
Despite enhanced funding proposed by Newsom, the Legislature must balance a projected $54.3 billion deficit by June 15, likely with deep cuts to services.
On Monday, gubernatorial and legislative leaders from the Western States Pact — consisting of delegations from California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have requested $1 trillion to state and local governments for pandemic relief from Congress. House Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package Tuesday, with $1 trillion allotted to state and local governments, but it’s unclear if Senate Republicans, headed by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, will approve the measure.
11:38 a.m. May 13: Alameda County signals Tesla can reopen next Monday
Alameda County announced late Tuesday that Tesla’s Fremont electric car factory can resume operations with modifications as soon as next Monday.
Amid a public feud with the county over its shelter-in-place orders that have shuttered Tesla’s electric car production, company CEO Elon Musk defied the county’s health orders by reopening his factory Monday, with the county responding it needed to close or face enforcement measures.
On Tuesday, the county said it has held productive discussions with Tesla representatives about safety and prevention plans, including additional recommendations. “If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Basic Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week,” a county statement said.
Officials added they are working with Fremont police to verify Tesla adheres to physical distancing and agreed-upon measures for worker safety.
Musk has frequently downplayed the effects of COVID-19 and berated Alameda County’s interim health officer, Dr. Erica Pan, who specializes in infectious disease, for not allowing the Fremont factory to reopen last Friday. In a Saturday morning Twitter rant, he threatened to pull Tesla out of California and filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in federal court for not loosening health orders.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said certain retail and associated manufacturing and logistics in California can reopen with approval from county health officials. Newsom signaled Monday that Tesla’s manufacturing would be able to restart as early as next week.
On Twitter, Musk has slammed Alameda County for not approving Tesla to resume operations, as has happened with other American car manufacturers. The Associated Press reported General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler planned to gradually restart their factories next Monday, coinciding with Tesla’s newly anticipated date by the county.
10:24 a.m. May 13: San Jose faces projected $71.6 million deficit, worse than Great Recession
San Jose is facing a $71.6 million deficit in its budget proposal due to “severe revenue declines” from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that are worse than the Great Recession and Dotcom Bust, city officials announced Tuesday.
General fund revenues are expected to drop nine percent compared to the 2018-2019 year, according to the proposed budget message by City Manager Dave Sykes. City Council is scheduled to finalize and approve the budget on June 16, though the full effects of the pandemic are still unclear.
“The recommendations included in this document take serious steps to address what will we know will be a substantially weaker economic environment for the foreseeable future, while still mindful that much of the long-term impact from the pandemic is uncertain,” Sykes wrote in the proposal.
In addressing the deficit, the city’s $4.1 billion proposed operating budget closes the shortfall through cuts to library hours, parks and community centers, police, airport costs and city hall jobs, among other considerations. Additionally, the fund seeks new revenue sources and dips into reserves and other one-time dollars. Officials propose to decrease city staffing by 103 positions, however, no employee layoffs are anticipated yet because of the city’s high position vacancy rate, while some temporary positions expire on June 30 as previously planned.
Officials also announced a contingency plan if city revenues continue to decline even further. In the event it does, the city plans to slash $12 million, which includes 75 jobs. The proposals would only be brought forward in early fall for City Council consideration.
“San Jose residents are struggling mightily in today’s COVID economy, and we must do all we can to lift our neighbors to higher ground,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “The public’s participation in the budget process is vital.”
Liccardo encouraged residents to participate in budget hearings through May, including a meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m.
10:24 a.m. May 13: Winchester Mystery House to reopen with self-guided garden tours
Winchester Mystery House announced it will reopen Friday with self-guided garden tours.
In a news release Wednesday, Winchester said it will offer outdoor, touchless tours that features 20 stops across four acres of Victorian Gardens.
“As springtime blossoms abound, the Victorian Gardens surrounding Sarah’s mysterious home have never looked more beautiful,” Winchester Mystery House’s general manager, Walter Magnuson, said in a statement. “We are happy to offer an opportunity for guests to enjoy them with a zero-contact, self-guided tour complimented by informative visuals and educational sound clips. The strongest precautions are being taken to ensure the safety and health of our guests and employees, in accordance with city, county and state guidelines and protocols.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued statewide guidance on outdoor museums and botanical gardens reopening with modifications, and Santa Clara County has loosened restrictions on some outdoor businesses and activities through its revised shelter-in-place order while physical distancing. If permitted by to open by county health orders, outdoor museums can resume operations under state modifications such as maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet between workers and customers, and customers waiting in lines; designating separate entry and exit routes into exhibits, galleries and indoor employee work stations; and limiting visitor group sizes to six or fewer.
With all Winchester guests required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks, they will be provided with a link to the audio guide and digital map accessible on their own devices upon check-in, the news release said. Tours will be restricted to those in a visitor’s immediate household and capacity will be reduced for physical distancing. There will also be hand washing and sanitation stations throughout the property.
Still, Winchester’s gift shop and cafe will be closed, though guests can buy merchandise online. The self-guided tours are available Thursdays through Sundays and tickets must be purchased online prior to arrival.
9:10 a.m. May 13: CSU system to go online for fall classes
The California State University system will predominantly teach online for the fall at its 23 campuses across the state, Chancellor Timothy White said Tuesday.
The actions taken affect more than 480,000 students in addition to more than 53,000 faculty and staff after classes across the CSU system uniformly moved to virtual teaching on March 17.
“This planning approach is necessary because a course that might begin in a face-to-face modality would likely have to be switched to a virtual format during the term if a serious second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast,” White said in a statement. “Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus.”
There will be limited exceptions for in-person learning and research activities that can’t be taught virtually, and hybrid approaches will be available across campuses due to specific circumstances at campuses. Exceptions for CSUs, though, can include clinical classes for nurses, physical and life science labs, hands-on experience with unique instruments for engineering students, and boat and ship handling for maritime industry.
At San Jose State — where in-person classes were canceled in early March — President Mary Papazian said the campus has been strategizing the university’s return to as much face-to-face as possible while also being flexible in planning. Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, scheduled between for three days starting next Wednesday, were also postponed, though an online recognition for graduates is scheduled for May 22.
“I understand that the CSU’s decision may, on the one hand, be disappointing to many students, faculty and staff and may, on the other hand, bring relief to others,” Papazian wrote in a campus message. “When thinking about the college experience, the time spent on campus outside of class is just as meaningful as the time spent in the classroom. I can assure you that SJSU is innovating ways that campus life can extend to wherever you may be during the fall semester.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the University of California told CNN it’s unlikely any of the 10 campuses will reopen in the fall.
7:50 p.m. May 12: California has done more than 1 million COVID-19 tests, pharmacies can test
California has now conducted more than 1 million tests for COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
“Ramping up our testing capacity is critical as we begin modifying our stay at home order,” Newsom said during his daily briefing. “In addition to standing up more than 80 new testing sites across the state in underserved communities, soon Californians will be able to get tested when they pick up their prescriptions at some pharmacies across the state.”
While it’s unclear whether all pharmacies will begin COVID-19 testing, the governor’s direction allows pharmacists to collect test specimens and order tests.
California is now conducting more than 35,000 tests a day, Newsom added, far exceeding his goal set in April to ramp up testing to 25,000 each day.
Increasing testing capacity is one of the milestones that both the state and Santa Clara County health officials are measuring to decide how quickly to ease stay-at-home orders and reopen the economy.
Read San José Spotlight’s story on increased testing by the state and county here.
1:30 p.m. May 12: Offices, car washes, other businesses California allows counties to reopen
In addition to dine-in restaurants, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that counties, with state approval, can reopen offices, shopping malls, car washes, pet grooming and outdoor museums under new guidance.
Counties can loosen restrictions if they meet certain testing, health care capacity, contact tracing and other state indicators to respond to the pandemic. If approved, counties can move further into the second of four stages to reopening the economy. The second stage focuses on reopening lower-risk workplaces, initially retail, manufacturing and logistics, followed by schools, childcare, offices and limited hospitality.
Shopping malls, strip malls and outlets will be allowed to offer curbside pickup under new guidance. Shopping centers with movie theaters, bars, spas, salons or other personal care services should keep those areas closed until those respective businesses are allowed to reopen.
Offices unable to telework can reopen, though the state advises businesses to stagger schedules and close or restrict break areas. In order to do so, offices should regularly disinfect high-use areas, avoid sharing supplies and discontinue nonessential travel. Breaking away from business culture, employees should avoid handshakes or other greetings that infringe on physical distancing.
Car washes and pet grooming, along with other limited services that can maintain physical distancing from customers, can resume operations with modifications such as limited contact with others’ belongings and contacting customers in advance to request face coverings and screen for symptoms.
Additional considerations for car washes include recirculating air inside vehicles before workers clean them, and limiting interior cleaning to one worker at a time. Amenities like coffee or magazines should no longer be offered to customers, and the state recommends that waiting areas or lounges be closed altogether, or at a minimum reconfigured to maintain physical distancing. Self-serve car wash operations should regularly clean high-contact areas and provide disposable gloves for customers to use when handling cleaning equipment.
Pet groomers should schedule staggered appointments and limit interactions with pet owners through curbside pick-ups. They should also use their own equipment such as slip leads during the transfer of pets and not handle any leashes, collars or other equipment belonging to the pet. Similarly, dog walkers should practice contactless handoffs, and bring their own leashes and disposable bags.
Meanwhile, outdoor museums can resume operations with modifications, such as maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet between workers and customers, and customers waiting in lines; designating separate entry and exit routes into exhibits, galleries and indoor employee work stations; and limiting visitor group sizes to six or fewer.
At least a couple of the state’s stage two modifications, landscaping or gardening, are available in Santa Clara County, though many of Newsom’s announcements are not yet available in the Bay Area, which has more restrictive measures.
1:07 p.m. May 12: California issues guidance for reopening dine-in restaurants by county
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans Tuesday to gradually allow counties to reopen dine-in restaurants under certain rules.
The new guidelines allow counties to set looser rules if they meet certain testing, health care capacity, contact tracing and other state indicators. If approved, counties can move further into the second of four stages of reopening the economy, which now includes restaurants and shopping malls, among others. Previous health orders only allowed takeout or delivery meal options for restaurants.
“This would allow patrons to start coming back in these counties that have conditions that afford those,” Newsom said in his briefing Wednesday.
Under guidelines by the state Public Health and Industrial Relations departments, dine-in restaurants must establish workplace-specific plans, employee training and screening, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting. Table-side food preparation, bars, shared entertainment, buffets and drink dispensers all must be discontinued.
The also guidelines advise restaurants to offer disposable menus, reusable dinnerware, physical barriers and to require diners to wait in their cars. Employees and diners will also be required to remain 6 feet apart.
The state also requires physical distancing through partitions, with priority on outdoor seating and limiting people per table. Restaurants should display visible rules for customers and personnel as they enter, and restaurant workers and diners should be screened for symptoms, asked to use hand sanitizer and wear face coverings when not eating or drinking.
Other guidelines include asking customers to stay in their cars while waiting to be seated, staggering employee breaks as feasible to maintain physical distancing protocols and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between parties.
Ahead of the announcement, the California Restaurant Association issued its own recommendations for the state to allow dine-in eating, adding it took guidance from state coalitions of local health officers and environmental health directors.
Last week, Newsom allowed retail and associated manufacturing and logistics to resume work through measures such as curbside pickup. However, under his orders, local jurisdictions can retain stricter measures, like the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders that have not reopened retail or manufacturing businesses.
Newsom said more than 70% of the state economy is open, but he urged Californians to protect vulnerable seniors’ health under the new guidance. “That’s why practicing, and not just preaching, what’s in these guidelines is so foundational,” Newsom said. “It’s a way of just saying this: We’re putting these things out, and now we’re asking you to do even more than you have done.”
Read about the new rules and how they’re creating some confusion for South Bay restaurant owners.
10:58 a.m. May 12: Gov. Newsom expected to outline reopening for dine-in restaurants
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday previewed announcements for furthering California’s second stage of gradually loosening stay-at-home orders by reopening certain businesses, including dine-in restaurants, offices and malls, scheduled for his Tuesday briefing at noon.
Tuesday’s expected guidelines are part of Newsom’s larger guidance allowing counties to loosen rules if they can attest to meeting certain testing, health care capacity, contact tracing and other state indicators to respond to the pandemic.
Last week, Newsom allowed retail and associated manufacturing and logistics to resume work through measures such as curbside pickup. However, under his orders, local jurisdictions can retain more restrictive measures, like the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders that have not yet allowed last week’s measures to take effect.
Ahead of the announcement, the California Restaurant Association issued its own recommendations for the state to allow dine-in eating, adding it took guidance from state coalitions of local health officers and environmental health directors. Under current health orders, restaurants can only serve takeout or delivery meal options.
Along with physical distancing measures, the association in a video proposed limiting tables to no more than 10 people, contactless payment, banning self-service buffets or salad bars, and either using disposable menus or disinfecting menus.
The association’s recommendations are intended to address employee safety, education for the dining public, physical distancing and increased sanitation and disinfection. Still, it emphasized for restaurants to engage with local health officers to find out more on reopening.
View Newsom’s 12 p.m. briefing on his Facebook page.
10:05 a.m. May 12: Losing a loved one to COVID-19
The San Jose-based Bill Wilson Center has grief counseling for people who have lost loved ones due to the novel coronavirus disease.
Call the Centre for Living with Dying at 408-243-0222 for counseling available in multiple languages, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department tweeted.
To date, 129 people in the county have died from COVID-19, according to health officials.
6:08 p.m. May 11: Three San Jose golf courses, certain park amenities reopened
Three San Jose golf courses reopened last Tuesday as part of slowly phasing in more than 1,000 park and facility amenities, a city news release announced.
Residents can now frequent Los Lagos, Ranco de Pueblo and San Jose municipal golf courses under revised Santa Clara County public health protocols that include physical distancing and not sharing recreational equipment.
Additionally, on Saturday, the city also allowed activities such as pickle ball, bocce ball, tennis courts, disc golf, horseshoes and skate parks, with the exception of Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park.
Other amenities remain closed, officials said. Violators can face fines of $100 or more. For a current list of park and facility closures, visit here.
5:30 p.m. May 11: Silicon Valley Strong launches San Jose small business grants
The Silicon Valley Strong initiative started accepting applications Monday for its $1.42 million San Jose small business grant program through Sunday, a city news release said.
Operated by the Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit financial institution, 142 small businesses in San Jose can receive $10,000 grants for payroll, rent, two-week paid sick leave and other overhead costs. Funds come from Silicon Valley Strong, a philanthropic effort by the city and Silicon Valley Community Foundation that brings donors, nonprofits and community leaders to amass and centralize resources.
To be eligible, business owners have to live in Santa Clara County and qualify as low or moderate-income, or below 80% of the area median income, the Opportunity Fund says. Their businesses, meanwhile, must have five employees or less and prove they lost at least 25% of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priority will be given to businesses qualified as essential under the county’s shelter-in-place order, as will those that comply with and whose liquidity is affected by two-week paid sick leave requirements.
3:45 p.m. May 11: Gov. Newsom says Tesla could resume as early as next week, Musk restarts operations anyway
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday manufacturing in Alameda County — where Tesla CEO Elon Musk has berated local health officials over reopening the company’s Fremont car factory — could resume as early as next week, despite the company already restarting production in defiance of local public health orders.
While Newsom said manufacturing broadly is allowed to resume with modification under the state’s stay-home order, he respected regional conditions for areas such as the Bay Area and said certain restrictions for shelter-in-place orders could be lifted by next week.
“We are respecting the rights of their health directors to make decisions that they see best for themselves,” Newsom said in his daily briefing. “And to the extent that we can be helpful and accommodating, we will be to move these conversations along more quickly. But I look forward to getting manufacturing back in the state, more logistics work, more retail. We made those modifications, again with conditions.”
Shortly after the governor’s briefing, Musk tweeted, “Thank you Governor Newsom!” Additionally, the CEO confirmed Tesla started operations against Alameda County’s orders. Several news outlets, including the Verge, KTVU and San Francisco Chronicle, reported Tesla appeared to restart operations Monday.
“I will be on the line with everyone else,” Musk said on Twitter. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
On Saturday, Musk ranted on Twitter threatening to move his electric car company’s operations out of California and filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in federal court for not loosening orders that closed carlines at the Fremont factory on March 23. In a blog post later Saturday, Tesla also laid out plans to reopen, though didn’t specify when.
Musk then tweeted Monday other American car companies are allowed to resume, while Tesla was not. “This is super messed up!” he said.
Responding to press questions about photos circulated of the car plant, Newsom said he wasn’t aware of Tesla’s reopening but said enforcement would need to come from Alameda County.
On Twitter, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office released a county statement acknowledging Tesla opened beyond minimum basic operations for businesses amid stay-home orders.
“We are addressing this matter using the same phased approach we use for other businesses which have violated the Order in the past, and we hope that Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures,” the county statement said. Officials added the company planned to provide a site-specific plan later Monday under the state’s guidelines for manufacturing. The steps include improving employee health screening procedures and engaging front-line staff on concerns and feedback regarding safety protocols.
Over the weekend, Musk also threatened to move Tesla to Texas or Nevada, which both have less restrictive public health measures. Nevada — home to battery production for Tesla — is also part of the Western States Pact to coordinate COVID-19 response alongside California.
Emphasizing his personal relationship with Musk and early advocacy for Tesla’s technology, Newsom said the Palo Alto-headquartered company has been “substantively supported” for many years by the state and California has in turn been one of its “beneficiaries.” He added he looked forward to “many decades” of that relationship.
“I know many of us are frustrated of where we are in this pandemic,” Newsom went on. “Almost all of it, no one could have seen coming. But we’re working through these issues in real time — even those Bay Area modifications coming in the next week or so. I’m confident we’ll get through this, regardless of what some people are saying on social media and in the press currently.”
1:50 p.m. May 11: California Gov. Newsom, western leaders ask for $1 trillion in federal response
Several leaders from western states signed a letter Monday requesting $1 trillion in federal relief from Congress to aid state and local governments facing significant budget shortfalls.
As part of the Western States Pact including California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, governors and legislative leaders from each of the states asked for dollars from Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate.
“This is the requirement of this moment,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his briefing Monday. “It gives you a sense of the thrust of the needs that we are all feeling — as states, as states, as regions, as city — that are required to get through this pandemic and to make sure we’re doing justice to you.”
Amid historic unemployment numbers, local and state governments are faced with losses in tax revenues that would force them to make cuts to basic services. Federal aid, the western leaders said in their letter, would preserve core government services such as public health, public safety, education and returning workforces through job training and small business relief.
“Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same COVID-19 math, as are Democratic and Republican mayors across our states,” read the western states’ letter sent to Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “The moment requires unprecedented partnership from all of us — across every level of government and across party.”
California alone has a projected $54.3 billion budget deficit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By June 15, the state Legislature legally must pass a balanced budget or not get paid.
11:45 a.m. May 11: Grants for Santa Clara County nonprofits to provide financial assistance
Destination: Home’s $1 million grant program for Santa Clara County nonprofits to provide direct financial assistance to extremely low-income households undergoing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic is due Friday.
Already, the San Jose organization partnered with Sacred Heart Community Service for the Homelessness Prevention System in March to help vulnerable families and individuals with direct cash assistance for rent and other basic necessities. Under existing direct cash assistance, the $11 million fund ran out in three days, with about 10,000 people on the waitlist as of late April. Half of applicants were considered extremely low-income, while 90% of all those who applied were people of color.
But in its new qualification request announced last Friday, Destination: Home said it “also recognizes the importance of partnering with additional organizations to serve historically hard to reach groups and meet the unique needs of specific populations throughout the county.”
Qualified organizations and community groups can receive support ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 to directly enroll and disperse assistance.The aid will go to Santa Clara County families and individuals who made less than 30% of the area’s median income — classified as extremely low-income — prior to the crisis, and are ineligible for unemployment benefits or federal stimulus payments because they are cash economy or undocumented workers, or mixed status households. Under the grants, eligible workers, with up to two workers per household, can get a flat amount of $1,000 in direct client assistance payments.
In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled $125 million in relief for about 150,000 undocumented Californians, with eligible adults able to receive one-time $500 checks, capped at $1,000 per household, to help with the effects of the pandemic.
View the grant application process here.
10:30 a.m. May 11: California Senate returns to work
After the state Assembly returned to the Capitol last Monday, California senators reconvened Monday morning to take on pressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a projected $54.3 billion budget deficit.
Nearly two months have passed since the state Legislature last met, when Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, suspended hearings in March.
“The California Senate returns to the Capitol today to continue our essential business in a responsible and transparent way,” Atkins tweeted.
The Senate planned to take additional precautions to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, including not convening a full floor session with all members. Additionally, the Capitol will limit in-person access to committee rooms with physical distancing in place, and there will be virtual public comment and testimony.
Still, a special Senate committee on pandemic emergency response did meet Wednesday, two days after the Assembly reconvened.
By June 15, legislators will need to balance a projected $54.3 billion budget deficit caused by the pandemic, as well as historic increases in Californians filing for unemployment, among other urgent matters.
5:15 p.m. May 9: Elon Musk threatens to pull Tesla out of California, sue Alameda County “immediately”
In a series of Saturday morning replies on Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will move its Palo Alto headquarters out of California and sue Alameda County “immediately” for not loosening revised shelter-in-place orders to allow the company to reopen production at its Fremont factory.
“Frankly, this is the final straw,” Musk tweeted in response to users questioning Alameda County’s actions. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen (sic) on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
Later Saturday, Musk made good on the threat and filed the lawsuit against the county.
In the 18-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District, Musk’s attorneys claimed Tesla is one of the 16 essential businesses allowed to continue operating under Newsom’s shelter-in-place order issued in March.
Alameda County, the complaint alleges, is violating the state order by forcing Tesla to remain closed.
On Friday, Musk hoped to restart carlines for its electric vehicles following less restrictive guidance on statewide stay-at-home orders, according to CNBC. But Alameda County’s interim health officer, Dr. Erica Pan, reportedly said Tesla did not have the “green light.”
While Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed some reopening of certain businesses Friday, local governments can retain more strict measures. Santa Clara and Alameda counties, along with several Bay Area governments, reaffirmed health orders will remain in effect for now through May, which don’t allow retail and associated manufacturing and logistics to restart workplace business as the governor outlined. In announcing Saturday Tesla would file a lawsuit against Alameda “immediately,” Musk tweeted Pan was “acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plan common sense!”
With more than 10,000 workers, Tesla’s Fremont factory produces every Model S, X and 3 car and also makes the vast majority of vehicle components, according to the company’s website. Bloomberg reported Tesla has battery manufacturing in Nevada and some staff based in Texas.
Later, Musk replied the company knows “far more about what needs to be done to be safe” from its China factory than an “(unelected) interim junior official,” referring to the county’s top health official. He encouraged followers to voice their opposition to Alameda County.
In a statement Saturday, Alameda County officials said they have been communicating and working closely with Tesla staff based in Fremont. “This has been a collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla’s factory,” the statement said.
The county statement went on, “It is our collective responsibility to move through the phases of reopening and loosening the restrictions of the Shelter-in-Place Order in the safest way possible, guided by data and science.”
Electric cars are California’s second largest export, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Tesla is one of Alameda County’s largest employers.
Shortly after Musk’s threats, Fremont Mayor Lily Mei issued a statement saying she was growing concerned about the county shelter-in-place order’s effects on the regional economy, particularly without provisions for manufacturing such as Tesla. Linking the statement in his replies, Musk tweeted “Thanks Mayor Mei!”
“The City encourages the County to engage with our local businesses to come up with acceptable guidelines for re-opening our local economy,” Mei said in a statement. “As we have done for over a decade, the City is prepared to support Tesla as soon as they are able to resume automobile manufacturing operations and are committed to a thoughtful, balanced approach to this effort that remains safe for our Fremont community.”
Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine appealed directly to Musk on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
“I truly appreciate having a cutting edge company based here, employing people, paying taxes, and helping to solve the climate crisis,” Fine tweeted. “Happy to help @elonmusk,” to which the Tesla CEO later replied, “Much appreciated, Mayor Fine!”
Palo Alto Mayor here. I would be really sad and disappointed if @Tesla left @cityofpaloalto, and stand ready to help. I truly appreciate having a cutting edge company based here, employing people, paying taxes, and helping to solve the climate crisis. Happy to help @elonmusk. https://t.co/LYsu0gbPfa
— Adrian M. Fine (@adrianfine) May 9, 2020
3:30 p.m. May 9: Estimates: Santa Clara County saved 7,429 lives in 45 days since stay-home order
Estimates released by the Big Cities Health Coalition Thursday showed Santa Clara County saved 7,429 lives in the first 45 days of the county’s initial March 16 shelter-in-place order.
“Ordering people to shelter in their homes was unprecedented and difficult,” said county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, chair of the Big Cities Health Coalition, in a statement. “Everyone’s collective action has dramatically slowed the spread of COVID-19. These measures have prevented many infections, hospitalizations and deaths. It’s tempting to let up, but we need to massively scale up two essential guardrails–testing and contact tracing–to protect the progress we’ve made, as well as the most vulnerable among us.”
Within Big Cities’ jurisdictions, Santa Clara County avoided 69,453 hospitalizations in the county’s first 45 days of sheltering in place, estimates found, saving capacity for regional health systems. Over a 60-day period, the county is projected to save 8,409 deaths and 81,161 hospitalizations due to its orders.
In the 30 largest U.S. cities, health orders saved more than 200,000 deaths and deterred more than 2.1 million hospitalizations in a 45-day period, per estimates.
6:20 p.m. May 8: San Jose holds social media marketing workshop with Facebook
Businesses can join a virtual workshop hosted by the city of San Jose next Thursday to learn social media marketing with representatives from Facebook and Business Owner Space.
The webinar is open to nonprofit organizations, independent contractors and sole proprietors, among others affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a city news release announced. Businesses are slated to learn how Facebook and Instagram platforms can increase reach and engagement to customers.
The workshop is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday. Register here.
6:05 p.m. May 8: Plan to reopen San Jose small businesses
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and regional business leaders on Friday proposed helping reopen some small businesses by allowing them to operate outside when shelter-in-place restrictions are eased.
“We recognize that in a city with 300 days of sunshine a year we have a unique opportunity to offer a plan for greater resilience to the coronavirus challenge that is facing every single small business owner in our city and throughout the country right now,” Liccardo said at Friday’s meeting.
The proposal, aimed primarily at restaurants, would also allow businesses such as salons, cafes, gyms, yoga studios and other retailers to take advantage of the city’s sunny weather by setting up shop outside in public spaces such as parking lots, parks, alleys, plazas and streets, once Santa Clara County’s revised health order is lifted.
Read the full San José Spotlight story here.
4:50 p.m. May 8: Mexican Heritage Plaza’s School of Arts and Culture launches $1 million arts workforce initiative
After receiving a $1 million grant in the fall to create an arts equity program, the School of Arts and Culture at San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza announced Friday it would launch a statewide workforce initiative for arts administrators of color during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Done in partnership with SVCREATES, the fellowship seeks to address the dearth of people of color in arts administration through a nine to 12-month placement beginning in October. In addition to creating a more inclusive workforce, the pilot program will also work to celebrate unique cultural identities across California.
“While the current state of affairs is in flux, this statewide pilot program is vital at a time when the sector is canceling events, and artists and independent contractors are having a hard time finding work, which is further compounded by the culture of unpaid internships within the arts,” a School of Arts and Culture news release said.
Across nine geographical regions, fellows will receive a $50,000 stipend and host organizations will get $35,000 grants for the program’s duration. The fellowships are funded by the California Arts Council and the James Beard Foundation.
1 p.m. May 8: California voters to receive mail-in ballots for November election
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Friday so registered voters in California will receive mail-in ballots for the November general election.
“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” Newsom said in a statement. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote.”
Secretary of State Alex Padilla added that California is the first in the nation to move to mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election. Voting by mail will be expanded to all voters, though Newsom’s administration plans to work with counties to ensure in-person voting is available on and before Election Day. In voting by mail, ballots also do not need stamps because postage is prepaid on ballots.
“It’s great for public health, it’s great for voting rights,” Padilla said in Newsom’s briefing Friday. “It’s going to be great for participation because this November’s election is still slated to be (the most) consequential election of our lifetime.”
Eligible voters will need to verify their registration status or register on the Secretary of State’s website. Additionally, Padilla called on residents to volunteer at polling places, as many poll workers tend to be older with chronic health conditions that put them at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Read the executive order here.
11:55 a.m. May 8: Skilled nursing, assisted living facilities account for nearly half of California’s deaths
Nearly half of people who have died from COVID-19 in California were living or working in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, according to data released by the state departments of Public Health and Social Services.
Close to 48.5% of all the state’s dead due to the novel coronavirus came from facilities that tend to serve the elderly. Accounting overwhelmingly for residents but also staff as of Wednesday, skilled nursing facilities had 998 deaths and assisted living facilities had 216 deaths. The total statewide death count in the same time frame was 2,504 people.
Across California, skilled nursing facilities had 9,254 cases and assisted living facilities had 1,602 cases, suggesting death rates from COVID-19 are far higher in these facilities.
Santa Clara County had five nursing facilities reporting deaths: Canyon Springs Post-Acute, Mountain View Healthcare Center, Ridge Post-Acute, Valley House Rehabilitation Center and Vista Manor Nursing Center. While cases or death figures fewer than 10 were not specified in state data, Canyon Springs had 11 residents who died as of Wednesday.
Long-term care facilities — which include skilled nursing and assisted living — overall in the county accounted for 52 of the 128 total deaths as of Friday, local data show. Because these facilities typically serve older people with chronic health conditions, county health officials say these residents are at greater risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19.
10:30 a.m. May 8: Santa Clara County launches resource portal for families, individuals
Santa Clara County launched a resource portal for families and individuals, with many resources available regardless of whether they can pay, are uninsured or lack immigration status.
With a searchable map, resources listed by the Office of Public Affairs range from childcare to business assistance, as well as food-distribution and immigration services. The county’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs is also available to residents, as well as connections to receive free internet at home during the COVID-19 crisis, among a litany of other community-based services.
6 p.m. May 7: Gov. Newsom previews California’s varied reopening
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday previewed steps counties can take to reopen certain businesses and public spaces as they loosen the state’s stay-at-home order locally.
The state will allow counties to move further in the second of four stages to reopen the economy, though these regional variances will require local health officers to attest to thresholds determined by the state Public Health Department.
“These are specific responsibilities of the counties if they want to go further,” Newsom said in his briefing, “specific responsibilities of the state if we want to continue to make progress that we have to monitor in real time.”
While more specific guidance is expected, Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, said county officials must notify state authorities about local intent to ease restrictions and confirm readiness with the board of supervisors and local health systems. The county’s steps to easing must be publicly available, too.
In a 14-day span, a county can’t have more than one COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents and no deaths. Counties must also have sufficient testing, contact tracing, hospital capacity and protections for vulnerable populations, such as elderly residents in nursing homes. The state also requires adequate protections and protective supplies for essential workers.
Importantly, local authorities must give timelines to move through the state’s second stage of gradual reopening for nonessential businesses and amenities considered low-risk, which include retail, offices and dine-in restaurants, among others.
At any time, state health officials can pull back restrictions, particularly if there are increases in the virus’ spread. Still, some rural Northern California counties with few or no cases already started easing restrictions even before the new guidance. The state order also doesn’t limit local health officers from having more restrictive measures. Bay Area officials, for example, said they don’t plan to ease restrictions Newsom recently announced.
3:44 p.m. May 7: Bilingual childcare portal for workers in Santa Clara County
Residents allowed to work under Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order can now find childcare centers through an online portal, the county Office of Education announced in a news release Thursday.
The portal, in English and Spanish, can link childcare services with updated information about available resources, eligibility and guidance on applying. In addition to mapping of providers, it also has information for payment vouchers for essential workers and subsidized costs.
“We know the demand has increased since the shelter-in-place order was initially announced, and we want to meet that need with the most relevant and useful content that we can,” said Mary Ann Dewan, the county superintendent of schools, in a statement. “These resources listed on the portal are made available through the efforts of the community, city and county organizations within Santa Clara, and through partnerships with these entities, essential workers are provided with several childcare options.”
The county’s revised shelter-in-place order effective through May allows childcare facilities to reopen and serve the families of essential workers and others allowed to return to their jobs. In order to operate, childcare centers must follow physical distancing, sanitation and hygiene practices determined by county, state and federal health officials.
On April 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a childcare facility navigator operated by the California Department of Social Services. The county’s new portal was made possible by the county Office of Education in partnership with local leaders, community organizations and agencies.
3:12 p.m. May 7: Bucking California, Bay Area won’t reopen retail, associated businesses Friday
Bucking statewide guidance by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday to reopen certain businesses, Bay Area officials — including in Santa Clara County — affirmed local health orders remain in effect that don’t allow these retailers and associated manufacturers and warehouses to begin operating again.
As part of the state loosening its stay-at-home order, Newsom said retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses can reopen Friday under modifications such as curbside pickup. The changes are subject to local authorities’ discretion, though.
However, with a revised shelter-in-place order that took effect Monday, Bay Area officials emphasized locally loosened restrictions apply to outdoor activities and businesses, not “curbside pickup from non-essential, non-outdoor businesses, and that is not allowed to begin Friday,” according to a news release issued shortly after Newsom outlined the changes.
“We appreciate that the Governor recognizes that California communities are impacted differently by coronavirus and can make decisions at the local level,” Bay Area officials said. “In our current environment, if a county order differs from a state order, the more restrictive order takes precedence.”
Local officials said they will use indicators of increased testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment inventory, as well as monitoring new cases, hospitalizations and health care capacity to determine reopening. While saying they share the urgency to restore economies, the Bay Area news release said they want to do so in a safe manner that doesn’t increase cases or deaths, or overwhelm health systems.
“We will continue to work with our community and business leaders to accomplish careful, measured progress that allows us to maintain our gains as we move forward to further reopening and better times ahead,” officials added.
The Bay Area’s orders apply to Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, as well as the city of Berkeley.
2:15 p.m. May 7: Gov. Newsom says California’s first community spread case was in nail salon
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday the state’s first COVID-19 case of community spread occurred at a nail salon.
Responding to a press question why churches and nail salons are part of the state’s third of four stages in loosening the stay-at-home order, Newsom made the announcement, saying “let me be specific now to nail salons.”
“This whole thing started in the state of California — the first community spread — in a nail salon,” he said. “I just want to remind you, remind everybody of that. I’m very worried about that.”
Newsom did not specify where the nail salon was or when the case occurred, however. The county of Santa Clara confirmed the state’s first community spread case did not occur locally. San José Spotlight has reached out to the California Department of Public Health for comment.
He said many of the procedures to reduce the spread of the virus, like using surgical masks and gloves, are already used by nail salons. Citing guidance from health officials, he said reopening nail salons have caused “red flags.” Churches, meanwhile, have had augmentations, though officials were fearful of allowing congregations in enclosed spaces.
The United States’ first known death from COVID-19 was in Santa Clara County through community transmission on Feb. 6 of a 57-year-old woman, county officials announced in April. On Feb. 26, state health officials had said the country’s first possible case of community spread occurred in Solano County.
1:30 p.m. May 7: Guidance for certain businesses reopening in California
Starting Friday, certain retailers and associated manufacturers and warehouse logistics can reopen in California under new guidance announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday.
The actions come as part of the state’s second of four stages to gradually relax its stay-at-home order to nonessential industries. Previously, only essential workers in sectors such as food supply, transportation and health care were able to work in-person.
The guidelines announced Thursday for retail, manufacturing and logistics, Newsom said, have “an eye for turning the page and moving into a new phase in terms of our economic recovery.”
“You get a sense that we’re moving forward,” he went on. “But we’re doing it always with an eye being led by data, by the science, by public health.”
Retailers — including bookstores, jewelry stores, clothing stores, sporting goods, music stores and florists — can reopen with curbside pickup and delivery. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said businesses must implement contactless payment systems, more hand sanitizers, and staff must wear gloves and masks in delivering goods to customers.
Meanwhile, manufacturers must have more spacing in the workplace, and close break rooms and opt for outdoor break areas with physically distanced seating. Warehouses should have sanitation materials during deliveries and use personal protective equipment for each site.
All businesses must perform risk assessments, employee training and implement site-specific protections to reduce the spread of the virus.
Officials said more reopening guidance is expected soon for businesses such as shopping malls, offices, car washes, dine-in restaurants and outdoor museums.
But as the state reopens, Ghaly said, it doesn’t meant things will immediately return to normal.
“We know that COVID-19 is still spreading,” he said, adding that cases continue to increase, with 92 new deaths from the previous day.
11:50 a.m. May 7: 1,000 face coverings delivered to San Jose wastewater, municipal water
Staff from the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility and the city’s Municipal Water System received 1,000 cloth face coverings, a city news release announced Thursday.
Delivered Tuesday, the donation to the city’s Environmental Services Department, which oversees both entities, is intended to provide personal protective equipment to essential workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cloth face coverings support worker safety and enhance the current inventory of non-surgical rated masks for everyday use of essential workers in ESD,” the news release said.
Already, at least one worker at the city’s wastewater facility tested positive for COVID-19 in March, in addition to several San Jose police, fire and airport employees, as San José Spotlight reported.
11:35 a.m. May 7: California projects $54.3 billion budget deficit amid COVID-19 recession
California is projected to face a $54.3 billion budget deficit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession, according to a state Finance Department memo Thursday.
With revenue declines of more than $41.2 billion along with $7.1 billion to health and human services programs’ caseloads and $6 billion mostly in direct COVID-19 response, the state is expected to have budget declines for the upcoming fiscal year that are more than three times the rainy day fund balance of $16 billion.
“COVID-19 has caused a national recession, a precipitous decline in income, rapidly rising health and human services caseloads and substantial COVID-19 driven costs,” state financial analysts wrote.
At the start of the year, California had a 3.9% unemployment rate, a $5.6 billion surplus in the governor’s proposed budget, $21 billion in projected reserves and increased revenues through March from January forecasts, per state analysts.
However, the pandemic had “immediate and severe” impacts on global, national and state economies, the memo said. California saw 478,000 unemployment claims in the last week, job losses in lower wage sectors that exacerbated existing wage disparities and a projected unemployment rate of 18%, far higher than the Great Recession.
Personal income is projected to fall 9% this year, while housing construction permits, a key economic indicator, are forecast to drop 21%.
Compared with tax revenues from January, this fiscal year is projected to see more than 20% losses from personal income, sales and corporate taxes. Because of revenue declines to the general fund, K-12 schools and community colleges — which receive more than 40% of the fund’s dollars — are expected to see $18.3 billion in funding declines.
While calling it the “COVID-19 Recession” with loss of jobs and income, state officials said the projected deficit as a percent of general fund spending is smaller than deficits incurred in 2003 and 2009. “This is due largely to the state’s prudent fiscal management and strong economic recovery since 2011,” the memo said.
Catch up on our past coronavirus coverage: