Coronavirus LIVE BLOG: October 13 to November 12
Photo courtesy of the CDC.

    Catch up on our current Coronavirus LIVE BLOG here.

    11 a.m. Nov. 11: How to know if businesses are following county health order

    Beatrice Santiago, Santa Clara County’s Business Compliance Unit lead, said both business owners and customers have a role to ensure health order compliance during a news briefing on Nov. 11.

    “When a business operates in compliance, it let’s the community know that they take their obligations seriously,” Santiago said. “That they are making every effort to slow the spread of COVID.”

    To know establishments have submitted social distancing protocols to the business compliance unit, she said patrons should check that businesses have a paper with an orange check mark taped to their doors – the county’s seal of approval.

    County spokesperson Ricardo Romero-Morales added that some compliance papers may be printed in black and white, and that people should check that the paper says the county approved its protocols in October.

    If businesses are not following social distancing protocols, Santiago said people can report any violations on the county’s website.

    Santiago said the Business Compliance Unit prioritizes education first, but will fine and penalize businesses if health officers find evidence of a violation.

    Depending on the risk of the violation, Santiago said businesses may receive a grace period to correct their protocol or receive an immediate fine if their practices are egregious enough.

    Noon Nov. 6: Safety protocols bolstered at Santa Clara County testing sites

    Testing Branch Director Chrissy Cheung dispelled concerns about being exposed to COVID-19 at testing sites in Santa Clara County.

    “We take great care in ensuring safety for all of the residents and people who come to our testing centers to get tested,” Cheung said. “We make sure that there is enough space at our testing centers so that people can be physically distanced at least six feet apart especially when they’re waiting in line, when they’re waiting to get tested, when they’re filling out any paperwork.”

    Cheung added that everybody is required to wear a mask and testing staff has divided where asymptomatic people go for testing and where symptomatic people go.

    “The ones where you walk into a test site, where you have to park and get of your car and go into a test site, we only test asymptomatic people there. So if you are sick, we actually have to turn people away from those sites,” Cheung said. “We do have options for people who are sick … our fairgrounds site. It’s predominantly a drive-thru site. Because it’s a drive-thru and you’re enclosed in your car, it makes it safe for people who are going to these test sites if you’re symptomatic.”

    Santa Clara County health officials announced they had surpassed administering 1 million tests on Nov. 2.

    People who are sick or exposed to someone with COVID-19 should find testing as soon as possible, Cheung said, and frontline workers, who have to work away from home and interact with multiple people should be tested at least once a month.

    10 a.m. Nov. 2: Santa Clara County surpasses 1 million COVID-19 tests

    Santa Clara County Public Health officials announced they had surpassed administering 1 million COVID-19 tests, largely through the fairground site that serves 2,500 residents daily.

    “That is a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19,” said Betty Duong, County of Santa Clara Emergency Operations Center spokesperson.

    Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing officer, said testing has aided the county in keeping its infection numbers low.

    “Our positivity rate is under 2% for the county as a whole,” Fenstersheib said.

    Santa Clara County has a 1.5% positivity rate as compared to San Mateo and Alameda counties, which each have a 1.6% positivity rate. Contra Costa has a 1.9% positivity rate. San Francisco County has a higher per person rate of testing and a lower positivity rate of .8% but is half the size of Santa Clara County.

    Fenstersheib said county health, which did the bulk of the testing, is doing 7,000 to 8,000 COVID-19 tests per day. He said although the county initially had difficulty in getting tests and meeting demand, health providers have stepped up, especially following an order requiring them to.

    “Testing is one tool in combating the pandemic,” Fenstersheib said. “If we don’t know who is infected, we can’t keep that infected person from exposing someone else.”

    Santa Clara Valley Medical Center also has increased its testing. Kimberly Soria, a clinical coordinator, said the medical center was responsible for more than 30% of COVID-19 testing in the county. Soria said that in addition to testing being fast and painless, insurance is not required.

    The county has targeted COVID-19 critically affected communities and positioned testing locations in most cities. Testing is free regardless of immigration status and insurance. Although patients may be asked to provide insurance information, so insurance companies may be billed, patients won’t be charged.

    Fenstersheib said essential and frontline workers who should be tested monthly..

    3 p.m. Oct. 31: Celebrate Halloween, Día De Los Muertos without getting COVID-19

    Lowest Risk

    The safest way to celebrate Halloween and Día De Los Muertos this weekend is to stay inside and do activities with fellow household members, health officials say.

    To celebrate the holidays with the least risk for COVID-19 exposure, families and roommates can organize a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, carve pumpkins, compete in a virtual costume contest, watch a drive-in movie, visit an outdoor pumpkin patch, cook together and create altars to honor loved ones, according to county guidelines.

    Moderate Risk

    People who choose to trick-or-treat outside can reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 by following local and federal health guidelines.

    Below are a list of guidelines from the CDC and county and for people who choose to go outside and trick-or-treat – socially distanced and with protective masks.

    For people giving out candy

    • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
    • One way trick-or-treating outdoors where trick-or-treaters and residents are socially-distanced.
    • Set up a curbside pick up station with individually bagged treats for kids to take at edge of yard or driveway.
    • Wash hands before handling treats.
    • Wear a mask.

    For trick-or-treaters

    • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
    • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
    • Make your cloth or surgical mask part of your costume.
    • A costume mask is NOT a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask.
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing
    • Stay six feet apart from trick-or-treaters outside of your household.

    Below are a list of activities prohibited or high-risk. These include door-to-door trick-or-treating, indoor parties and haunted houses.

    High Risk

    • Trick-or-treating from door-to-door and receiving candy from people directly.
    • Traveling to a rural fall festival not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19. Doing so can bring COVID-19 into the area and threaten the residents’ lives.


    • Attending a crowded party held indoors or outdoors.
    • Sharing, eating, drinking, speaking loudly or singing amongst others outside of your household.
    • Haunted houses or indoor mazes.
    • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

    11:30 a.m. Oct. 30: Court order requested to stop maskless gatherings at a San Jose church

    Santa Clara County officials are seeking a court order to stop Calvary Chapel San Jose from violating the county’s health order by hosting indoor church services with 600 people without masks or social distancing.

    Under the county health order, indoor gatherings for religious purposes are capped at 100 people, masks must be worn and people must maintain social distancing.

    “The obligation to preserve and protect life is at the heart of all major faiths,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. “We are grateful that virtually all religious congregations in the county have adapted their services to not risk the safety of their congregants or the community. All of us are making difficult sacrifices that are saving lives.”

    According to a news release, county officials spent months trying to convince church leaders to follow the rules, even issuing fines.

    “After church officials made clear they had no intention of ending their dangerous conduct, the County Counsel and District Attorney filed the request for a court order,” the release said.

    County officials say church services and other large gatherings without social distancing and masks cause super-spreader events.

    County Counsel James Williams said that most churches have been complying with public health orders and the actions of Calvary Chapel leaders forced the county to make this decision.

    “To keep our residents safe, and to allow schools, churches and businesses to reopen and stay open, we need everyone to do their part,” Williams said in the news release. “We cannot allow any organization in our community to willfully and repeatedly violate these orders, while everyone else, including other churches and religious organizations in the county, are complying.”

    The Superior Court scheduled a hearing for the case on Nov. 2.

    7 p.m. Oct. 29: If you’re using a Santa Clara County vote center, come early

    Santa Clara County officials say the safest way to vote this year is by mail, but vote centers will still have stringent health and sanitization measures in place when they open on Halloween.

    About 100 vote centers, including Levi’s Stadium, San Jose State and the headquarters of the county registrar of voters, will be scattered throughout the county.

    Eric Kurhi, a spokesperson for the county registrar, said people who intend on using vote centers should come at the earliest time possible when each one opens on Oct. 31 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

    “The longer you wait, the more likely if there is going to be a line, that’s when there is going to be a line,” Kurhi said. “So we would say that, yes, the earlier the better if you’re doing it in-person.”

    In other words, don’t wait until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

    Kurhi said county workers will be sanitizing everything each voter touches in the center, including the voting booths, tables and every part of the voting machine down to the stylus pen.

    Voters can also submit ballots and receive assistance curbside from their car.

    “If they need a ballot, if they need a replacement ballot, they can still come up, not have to enter the vote center,” Kurhi said. “If they’d rather not wear a mask or if they just don’t want to, they can vote curbside, and we will have staff come out, find out what they need to get done and facilitate the process just like if they had gone inside the vote center.”

    The spokesperson added that voters can also submit their ballots in about 100 county drop boxes, which are handled by county staff and taken straight to headquarters of the registrar of voters.

    The county will be releasing more guidelines throughout the next few days.

    11 p.m. Oct. 28: Santa Clara opens playgrounds citywide

    Playgrounds in Santa Clara will open citywide on Oct. 28, according to a news release.

    “We know the importance of play for the health and wellness of Santa Clarans, and we are excited that new health orders allow the City to reopen playgrounds for our community to enjoy,” Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said in the release. “With so many parents at home with their children doing remote learning, it’s even more important to get outside and let kids be kids, but we have to do it safely.”

    The playgrounds are open under health and safety protocols to reduce COVID-19 transmissions.

    People on the playgrounds are responsible for wearing masks, sanitizing their hands and making sure they don’t overcrowd playgrounds, according to the release.

    Additionally, the release says city workers have sanitized equipment and installed hand sanitizer dispensers for the public at each city playground.

    2 p.m. Oct. 27: On-campus COVID-19 case reported at San Jose State

    San Jose State officials announced in a mass email that a person positive with COVID-19 was on-campus in Duncan Hall on Oct. 20.

    “After learning of the report, the building was cleaned and sanitized with a deeper level of sanitation performed for affected spaces, including high touch point areas like door handles, stairway railings, elevator buttons and bathrooms,” according to the email.

    SJSU officials learned of the case on Oct. 23, according to the email. But it is unclear whether the person infected with COVID-19 is a student or staff member at SJSU.

    SJSU officials have reported the case to Santa Clara County and have notified people in contact with the infected person, the email says.

    If students or staff on campus test positive COVID-19, SJSU officials say to report it using this website.

    4 p.m. Oct. 26: Database shows at least three COVID-19 ‘superspreader’ events happened in South Bay

    A database from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England shows three COVID-19 “superspreader” events – incidents where one person spread the disease to dozens of people during one gathering – happened in the South Bay.

    At the Canyon Springs Post-Acute nursing home in San Jose, at least 141 people tested positive for COVID-19 during a superspreader event on March 20.

    At the Ridge Post Acute (Mt. Pleasant Nursing Center) in San Jose, at least 59 people tested positive for COVID-19 at a superspreader event on June 4.

    ProPublica data shows Ridge Post Acute has had 35 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths among staff and residents and Canyon Springs Post-Acute has had 2 COVID-19 cases and 0 deaths among staff and residents since May 8.

    In Santa Clara, the Valley House Rehabilitation Center had at least 93 people test positive for COVID-19 at a superspreader event on March 25.

    Since May 8, Valley House Rehabilitation Center has had 134 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths among residents and staff, according to ProPublica data.

    4 p.m. Oct. 24: Santa Clara County Fairgrounds expands testing capacity

    Health officials announced they are expanding testing at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

    Testing capacity will increase to 2,500 tests per day by next week, according to a news release.

    “We’ve been well above state and county goals for months, and we’ve seen a lot of interest in our mass testing site at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds,” said County Testing Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. “It’s very encouraging and a benefit to the health of the county that residents are continuing to prioritize COVID-19 testing, and are taking the time to get a quick, simple test. In addition, high testing numbers help allow more of the county to move into less restrictive state tiers.”

    The county is also continuing appointment-only testing in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Milpitas.

    On Oct. 30, the county will also be providing testing at Project MORE’s hALLoWELLness LGBTQ+ clinic event at Local Color. Additionally, community partners plan to provide flu vaccinations and wellness toolkits.

    A list of testing locations is attached below.

    Appointment-only – Schedule appointments here.

    San Jose
    Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Parking Lot A (across from the blue arch) – Drive-through, bike, and walk-up appointments
    Across the street from the Fairgrounds main entrance, 344 Tully Road, San Jose
    Appointments Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 27 – Oct. 30, 12 to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Murphy Park, 260 N. Sunnyvale Ave., Sunnyvale
    By appointment only for Monday, Oct. 26, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Morgan Hill
    Morgan Hill Council Chamber Building, 17555 Peak Ave., Morgan Hill
    By appointment only for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Los Gatos
    LGS Adult Recreation Center, 208 E. Main St., Los Gatos
    By appointment only for Wednesday, Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Saratoga Friendship Hall, 19848 Prospect Road, Saratoga
    By appointment only for Thursday, Oct. 29, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

    Milpitas Sports Center, 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd.
    By appointment only for Friday, Oct. 30, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    POP-UP TESTING SITES – No appointments needed and only for people without symptoms

    San Jose
    Emmanuel Baptist Church, 467 N. White Road, San Jose
    Tuesday to Friday, Oct. 27 – Oct. 30, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    South County Annex (formerly Del Buono Elementary) – 9300 Wren Avenue, Gilroy
    Tuesday to Friday, Oct. 27 – Oct. 30, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    San Ysidro Park, 7700 Murray Ave., Gilroy
    Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

    San Jose (in conjunction with Project Move’s “hALLoWELLness” event)
    Local Color, 27 S. First St., San Jose

    Appointments preferred, first-come availability for drop-ins. Friday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Schedule an appointment here.

    2:30 p.m. Oct. 23: California Telephone Access Program continues remote services

    During a virtual briefing held by the county’s public health department, Carmen Garcia, an outreach specialist from the California Telephone Access Program, said the program will continue remotely despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The program provides free specialized phones for deaf and disabled people and has put in place COVID-19 prevention modifications to their services, Garcia said.

    “Our goal is to ensure everybody can stay connected especially during this pandemic,” she said. “I think we’ve all recognized our telephones are a lot more important.”

    The program has no age or income requirements to meet, but people must have telephone service they are using already and a doctor’s note to receive the free devices.

    “If you have a hearing loss we want to make sure you can still call and request your refill,” Garcia said. “If you have a hard time seeing small numbers on your phone we want to make you can still call your friends and family to check on them or for them to check on you.”

    4:30 p.m. Oct. 22: CDC redefines close contact

    Health officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say close contact for transmitting COVID-19 includes brief encounters throughout the day that add up to 15 minutes in a 24-hour-period, contrary to their prior definition which was 15 continuous minutes of contact.

    The CDC’s redefining of close contact is based on an infection of a correctional officer at a Vermont prison, who was infected after having multiple brief encounters with six inmates, according to a CDC news release.

    All six inmates tested positive for COVID-19, and the security guard tested positive a week later, despite wearing a mask and gloves from the inmates during his interactions.

    However, CDC officials said video showed inmates not wearing masks while the officer interacted with them during several minute-long encounters throughout the day.

    “In correctional settings, frequent encounters of more than 6 feet between IDPs and facility staff members are necessary,” the news release says. “Public health officials should consider transmission-risk implications of cumulative exposure time within such settings.”

    6 p.m. Oct. 21: San Jose enters phased approach for playground reopenings

    Under new health guidelines, parents and kids can use more than 290 playgrounds in San Jose on Oct. 23. while wearing masks, sanitizing hands and equipment before every usage and social-distancing, according to a news release.

    “Parents and caretakers are responsible for ensuring that their children are playing safe and following all of the rules,” the news release said. “Do your part to protect your family and others against COVID-19 by following these guidelines.”

    Parks and recreation officials also say children should not share toys on the playground and should stay home if a family member is sick.

    However, it is unclear how San Jose will enforce these health restrictions at the playgrounds, though officials said the city will continue monitoring conditions at parks and facilities.

    The reopening is part of a phased approach parks and recreation officials are taking to open more amenities for families in San Jose.

    11:30 a.m. Oct. 21 County pushes for asymptomatic people to be tested

    If you’re exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms, Santa Clara County has one message for you.

    Get tested.

    “People who have been exposed include people who have had 15 minutes of continuous contact or intermittent contact as well,” said Indira Fonseca, the manager of the county’s COVID-19 call center.

    Fonseca added even with a mask, it’s still possible to be exposed.

    The county recommends essential workers get tested at least once a month, she said, but no more than every two weeks.

    A COVID-19 infection cannot affect people’s employment status, Fonseca said.

    She said employees and employers can contact the county’s business call center or office of labor standards and enforcement for more guidance on COVID-19 in the workplace.

    4:30 p.m. Supervisor criticizes Santa Clara County executive’s comments on stadium closures

    Santa Clara County CEO Jeff Smith’s scrutiny and criticism of the state’s decision to reopen stadiums in orange-tier counties drew the ire of county Supervisor Susan Ellenberg.

    After Smith described professional sports games as “super-spreader” events, Ellenberg said the statements were inappropriate and not thought out during a county meeting on Oct. 20.

    “Dr. Smith, you just called an NFL game a ‘super-spreader event’ and declared it was unconscionable to think of playing these games with any fans there,” Ellenberg said. “I think that the statements were not well thought out, not appropriate and I think they are going to create significant controversy and concern.”

    However, Smith listed various reasons games would be more risky.

    “The changes in the state’s guidelines regarding professional sports are, in our opinion, really quite dangerous,” Smith said. “If you just do the math, 20% of the capacity at Levi’s Stadium means just under 14,000 people could attend a football game there.”

    Smith said the number of spectators coming from areas outside Santa Clara County with high COVID-19 positivity rates to watch a football game could be disastrous for the state and the county.

    “If you look around the county and around the region within 150 miles of this region, there are areas and communities that have positivity rates for COVID that are in the 8% range,” Smith said. “Ours in this county happens to be around 1%. But if you do the math, that means 250 to 1,000 people out of those 14,000 people will be infected.”

    He said eating, drinking, screaming and congregating at the stadium will increase the spread of COVID-19.

    “They’ll be infected, they’ll be at the stadium screaming, yelling,” Smith said. “They’ll be unmasked during the time period that they’re eating. They’re going to be going to the restroom. They’re going to be congregating. They’re going be infecting other individuals.”

    3 p.m. Oct. 20: San Jose State administrators discuss deficits and COVID-19 precautions

    Facing an indefinite COVID-19 pandemic, decreasing student enrollment and a dearth of state funding, San Jose State administrators say they have a $92 million deficit.

    “We have a $92 million problem here at the university. That is primarily COVID expenses related to about $43 million in housing, dining, parking, things like that,” said Charlie Faas, SJSU vice president of finance and administration during a virtual town hall. “We have international student issues, that enrollment is down …  and state budget cuts are about $25 million of those numbers.”

    According to the university budget, SJSU has earmarked $69 million in budget reserves to be used for the next two school years.

    The school has a total of $161 million in reserves, the budget says. However, Faas added tuition will not be decreasing anytime soon.

    “The outlook is grim,” Faas said.

    SJSU has had a total of 51 positive cases of COVID-19 since March on and off campus, said Dr. Barbara Fu, SJSU’s acting medical director.

    Patrick Day, vice president of student affairs, said students attending class on campus should be tested regularly, however, SJSU has no testing sites available on campus.

    Fu and Day said administrators are exploring ways to provide testing on campus, but did not detail any specific plans.

    2 p.m. Oct. 20: Stadiums and theme parks remain closed off to people in Santa Clara County

    Fans of the San Jose Earthquakes, San Francisco 49ers and other teams that play in Santa Clara County won’t be allowed to see games at a stadium anytime soon, health officials say.

    “We must all continue to prioritize reducing the spread of COVID-19, creating conditions that will allow our businesses, schools, and other community organizations to operate safely,” a county news release said.

    Theme parks will also remain shuttered, according to the release.

    During a virtual news briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said large-scale parks with capacity of more than 15,000 people, such as California’s Great America in Santa Clara, are high-risk settings and can not open until the counties they are located in hit the lowest-risk yellow reopening tier. Even then, capacity will be limited to 25%.

    California’s Great America’s capacity fits up 30,000 people. Park officials announced in August the Santa Clara theme park would remain closed throughout 2020.

    Stadiums may resume operations in the orange tier – which is Santa Clara County’s current status – at 20% capacity. However, Santa Clara County officials are not allowing audiences to convene for any local sporting events.

    “As we see COVID-19 rates rising in states across the U.S., and as we enter the winter months when risk will increase, we cannot take chances with the health and wellbeing of our community and forfeit the many sacrifices that have been made to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

    2 p.m. Oct. 19: California in advanced planning to do vaccine distributions with CDC and DOD

    Governor Gavin Newsom announced California has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense for advanced planning on vaccine distributions.

    “We have long been in the vaccination business, our experience in mass vaccinations makes us a unique partner for the CDC and the DOD based on the scale and scope of vaccinations that occur on an annual basis here – on typical due course – in the state of California,” Newsom said.

    Newsom said a state logistics task force has coordinated with federal, regional and local health officials on implementing vaccine plan.

    In addition, California also formed a “scientific safety review workgroup” of health experts who will conduct independent reviews of vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Recent surveys have found people lack confidence and trust in the federal government to approve a vaccine.

    Planning for vaccine distribution consists of setting up vaccination clinics, vaccine storage, handling, administration and documentation, according to the CDC. Distribution within “large-scale facilities” such as stadiums and arenas would require more planning.

    Newsom said pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are anticipating vaccine releases in November and December, but the number of vaccines will be limited and directed to vulnerable populations and first responders.

    10 a.m. Oct. 19: San Jose Mayor signs letter for more resources to safely reopen schools

    Mayor Sam Liccardo signed a letter with 12 other mayors of California cities, urging Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to direct COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment and contact tracing programs to schools in order to get students back in the classroom.

    “When the history of this pandemic is written, it will reveal that school shutdowns imposed far greater harms to our children than COVID-19 ever did – particularly for children from low-income families,” Liccardo said. “The lost years of education, mental and emotional anguish, social isolation, limited access to exercise, play, and nutritious food will have impacts that will be felt for a generation, and we need a statewide commitment to get our schools open safely.”

    Although Santa Clara County is in the orange reopening tier, which allows the reopening of schools, many school districts such as San Jose Unified School District have opted to continue with remote instruction.

    The letter said while the mayors said they understood the severity of opening schools too early, they said keeping them closed for too long would take a toll on students who are low-income, unhoused or foster youth.

    Each of the mayors who signed the letter were part of the Big City Mayors Coalition, which includes the mayors of the 13 largest cities in California including San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

    Below are the letter’s list of suggested resources for schools to reopen safely:

    • Direct rapid testing and other testing resources to schools;
    • Provide schools with PPE guidance and resources, support for making physical accommodations to school sites and expand contact tracing programs;
    • Work with stakeholders statewide to develop uniform standards on priority student populations, testing and contact tracing protocols, site selection and staffing guidance in addition to setting a timeline for the reopening of elementary schools, with the opportunity to quickly expand to secondary schools;
    • Prioritize serving students with special needs, Title 1 students in low-income neighborhoods, children of essential workers; and students who have experienced homeless and/or youth in the foster/kin care system, and early learners (K-2nd grade). 
    • Actively gather, analyze and distribute data from the full range of schools that have received waivers to re-open to develop best practices that could be applied in a public school setting. 
    • Establish and provide funding for partnerships with cities and counties to develop creative solutions for using underutilized spaces such as libraries, recreation centers and other public venues to provide safe and supervised spaces for students to access remote instruction and educational support. Funding options must provide consideration to the staff and necessary extra training to support this option.

    6 p.m. Oct. 17: Santa Clara County releases COVID-19 Halloween guidelines

    State health officials have warned people from going trick-or-treating or having traditional Halloween and Día De Los Muertos gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    Santa Clara County released guidelines and suggestions for socially distanced activities to do instead.

    The guidelines say it’s safest to stay home and create activities such as scavenger hunts for candy and pumpkin carving.

    For Día De Los Muertos, the guidelines suggest to stay home and create altars for dead loved ones.

    However, they still listed certain activities under the low-risk category such as going to an outdoor pumpkin patch or participating in a drive-in movie night.

    Under the moderate-risk category was a modified form of trick-or-treating in a grab-and-go format. People would leave candy in separate baggies for pickup in front of their houses.

    The guidelines say traditional trick-or-treating, in which kids receive candy by hand is high risk and could lead to COVID-19 transmissions. In addition partying and large gatherings are also high-risk activities.

    Read the full guidelines here.

    6:30 p.m. Oct. 16: San Jose lawmakers to review extension of food distribution agreements

    Nonprofit food providers may continue receiving funds from San Jose until Dec. 30 to supply meals and groceries to people experiencing food insecurity because of COVID-19, according to a city memorandum.

    Under an agreement with Santa Clara County, San Jose leaders are in charge of distributing food throughout the county.

    “In late September 2020, the county asked the city to continue meal delivery services to vulnerable homeless residents and residents in isolation and quarantine locations inside and outside of San Jose, with reimbursement by the county for non-San Jose residents,” wrote Assistant City Manager Kip Harkness and Budget Director Jim Shannon.

    San Jose lawmakers on Oct. 20 will decide on extending agreements with Catholic Charities and World Central Kitchen to continue receiving up to $1.3 million and $3.5 million in funding for food distribution, respectively, until Dec. 30, the memorandum says.

    Hunger at Home, Team San Jose and The Health Trust may receive funding increases of $452,795, $1.4 million and $365,290, respectively, and an extension to their agreements to year’s end with city leaders’ approval.

    6 p.m. Oct. 15: San Jose State to host forum on continuing on-campus operations

    San Jose State administrators plans to host a virtual forum on Oct. 20 to discuss how on-campus classes and operations will resume in spring semester, 2021.

    “San Jose State is impacted greatly by the pandemic and its impact on the state budget,” Papazian said during a virtual town hall on Oct. 13. “Layoffs are our least preferred option at San Jose State and we continue to look for creative solutions to our financial challenges without resorting to layoffs.”

    To ease financial burdens on SJSU, Papazian said the school will release plans for an “early exit program,” similar what to other California State University campuses have.

    Papazian did not outline any details of the plan, but Early Exit Programs at other campuses give severance pay to employees voluntarily leaving their positions by the end of fall semester, 2020.

    Chancellor Timothy White announced San Jose State will continue with remote classes in Spring 2021.

    Despite Santa Clara County moving into the moderate-risk orange reopening tier, Fall 2020 in-person commencement is canceled and it is still unclear if Spring 2020 commencement will be in-person.

    Register for the next virtual forum here.

    Noon Oct. 14: Eat, pray and social distance indoors under orange tier in Santa Clara County

    Restaurants, churches and movie theaters can reopen indoors as Santa Clara County has moved to the moderate-risk orange tier, but businesses still need to submit their social distancing protocols to health officials for approval.

    Social distancing and mask requirements will still be in effect, with exceptions for people eating inside.

    “For indoor gatherings, an example would be if you’re attending a religious ceremony you cannot take off your face covering if you are indoors,” said Indira Fonseca, the manager of the county’s COVID-19 call center. “If you are outdoors you can remove your face covering.”

    Businesses and churches can reopen indoors at 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer.

    Church leaders would be required to record who attends their events to make contact tracing easier if someone at the gathering tests positive for COVID-19.

    Catch up on our past coronavirus coverage:

    Visit our special coronavirus page.

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