Silicon Valley cities launch new coronavirus initiatives as companies step up
Nicole Taylor, CEO for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is one of five co-chairs for the new economic recovery council, announced Thursday. Photo by Janice Bitters

Silicon Valley government and nonprofit leaders on Wednesday launched a new initiative, called Silicon Valley Strong, to centralize coronavirus resources for residents and small businesses.

Those leaders also called on residents and companies to step up with their time, energy and perhaps most importantly, money.

But across the Bay Area, organizations have already begun to respond to the fast-spreading coronavirus that led to a “shelter in place” order that has shuttered companies and left some residents without income or other resources. Among them: Facebook, Google, Apple, DoorDash, Wag Hotels and others.

First, what is Silicon Valley Strong?

It’s a new website that mayors and nonprofit leaders across the region hope will become the “one-stop-shop” for updates, resources, information on the coronavirus.

It also includes a new fund launched by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, called San Jose Strong, where companies and individuals can donate money for residents facing displacement during the outbreak and small businesses at risk of closure due to lost sales. The fund will also help nonprofit organizations in Silicon Valley.

“We are here because of course we are valley of great abundance, a valley of great wealth, of talent, of ingenuity, but most importantly a valley of great heart,” Liccardo said Wednesday during the news conference. “We may not have shelves that are well-stocked with toilet paper and sanitizer at the moment, but we are a valley of abundance and plenty and we know that at a moment like this when so many are struggling, we need to do more to ensure that all in our community have access to food through this crisis.”

Already, Cupertino-based Apple Inc. has contributed $1 million to the San Jose Strong fund.

“Apple has called this region home for over 40 years we feel a profound sense of civic responsibility to ensure that it remains a vibrant place where people can live, build a strong sense of community and obviously have employment,” said Mike Foulkes, director of state and local government affairs for the tech titan.

DoorDash makes changes for workers, customers

Meanwhile, DoorDash on Wednesday announced it would provide financial assistance to deliverers and couriers diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined and ship more than 1 million sets of free hand sanitizer and gloves to workers at DoorDash and Caviar, the company’s subsidiary delivery service.

“We’re in this together, and as the situation evolves, we’ll continue to do everything we can to serve our community,” said Tony Xu, CEO and co-founder of the Silicon Valley delivery app, in the post.

In an effort to help local businesses, DoorDash will waive some commission charges for local restaurants and retailers. It will also offer $20 million in marketing support for partnered restaurants.

DoorDash is also working with community organizations to deliver an estimated 1 million pounds of groceries and prepared food to local food banks.

Facebook offers matching funds

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last week announced $20 million in matching funds to support relief efforts globally for the coronavirus.

Of that, $10 million will go toward the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization’s new COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and Facebook fundraiser. The other half of the money will go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Foundation, which will also launch a Facebook fundraiser in the coming weeks.

“It’s critical that global and national health organizations leading the response efforts have the financial support needed in rapidly emerging response needs,” a spokesperson for the Menlo Park-based company told San José Spotlight on Friday. “Following major crises, like COVID-19, our community always steps up to help. Because this is a health crisis, it’s not as easy for people to know how or where to help.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and fiance Tom Bernthal also announced a $1 million matching donation to San Jose-based Second Harvest of Silicon Valley to assist families who need food while schools and workplaces close.

Google teams up with the WHO

Mountain View-based Google has also been working with the World Health Organization, offering up to $5 million in matching donations to to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, among other initiatives.

Looking after first responders’ furry friends

Wag Hotels, a pet boarding company, is remaining open and offering discounts to first responders and medical professionals who need a place to board their pet during long workdays. The Sacramento-based company has nine locations across California, including Oakland, Redwood City, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Clara, and will be offering discounts through April 15.

Follow along with San José Spotlight’s real-time coronavirus coverage on our LIVE BLOG here.

Eduardo Cuevas contributed to this report.

Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter. Contact Eduardo Cuevas at [email protected] or follow @eduardomcuevas on Twitter.

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