COVID-19 District Update + FREE School Lunch Locations
We are facing challenges that have dramatically changed our lives and daily routines. While our knowledge of COVID-19 and how it is spreading is continually evolving, it is important that we take care of one another and stay responsive to recommendations that are in the best interest of our community/public health.
Six of our nine Bay Area counties, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo, have now issued a shelter in place that began at 12:01 AM on March 17th, for everyone who is not required to perform an essential service. At the end of this message are details on what businesses are essential and thus exempted.
I know this measure may seem drastic and may intensify the anxiety that many people feel. But I want to assure you, this is the right action to take, not only for our personal health but to protect the most vulnerable among us and our health care workers. And most importantly to help ensure that our hospital facilities are not overwhelmed. Our county health leaders are experts, and they have our best interests in mind.
By asking us to shelter in place, our counties and our state government are actively working to slow the community spread of COVID-19 and "flatten the curve" of the spread of infections. One proven way to slow the transmission of this virus is to limit person-to-person interactions to the greatest extent possible, which is exactly what being sheltered in place does.
This shelter in place impacts everyone except those who work at an "essential business," such as health care operations, grocery stores, banks, others (the full list of essential services is further down this message). However, seniors, everyone age 65 or older, and those who have an underlying health problem should stay inside at all times except for health care appointments. This means asking others to shop for them or pick up prescriptions.
While non-essential activity outside our homes must stop, it's important to note that people are still allowed to go out for necessary trips to grocery stores, accessing health care, and helping families, friends or others who need our help
Here's what shelter in place means: Stay home and only leave for "essential activities" or "essential travel." The counties' health order describes the items below as essential travel, essential activities:
- Tasks essential to your family's health and safety, including your pets
- Getting necessary services and supplies, including groceries, prescriptions
- Delivering such goods to family members or others
- Going to appointments or obtaining services at any healthcare facility, including veterinary care (but not gyms)
- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons. Including pets
- Travel to educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning or meals and other related services
- Travel related to providing or accessing services exempted in the order
Note, it is OK and healthy to go outside to engage in outdoor activities like walking or running, as long as you and your family can avoid coming into close contact with others.
Other important points:
- All gatherings of any number are prohibited except as needed to carry out essential activities, maintain operation of essential businesses, or for essential governmental functions.
- All first responders, law enforcement personnel and those performing essential governmental functions are exempt from the Order.
- This Order does not apply to the operations of federal and state agencies, including airports.
- Public transit remains open to allow people to engage in "essential travel."
- Each local governmental entity shall identify which employees are needed to continue providing essential governmental functions.
Exemptions in the Health Order
Essential businesses include:
- Healthcare operations
- Grocery stores (including stores like Target that sell both grocery and non-grocery items)
- Pharmacies and healthcare supply stores
- Gas stations, auto supply and repair
- Banks and financial institutions
- Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other services to maintain safety and sanitation and essential operations of homes and businesses
- Educational institutions for purposes of facilitating distance learning
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Restaurants and prepared food facilities, but only for delivery or carry out (no table service)
- Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers for essential activities
Businesses that supply other businesses providing products or services exempted in the Health Order
- Shipping and mailing services including PO boxes
- Businesses that deliver goods and services directly to residences
- Childcare facilities to enable employees exempted in the Order to work
- Home-based care and residential facilities for seniors, adults, children
- Essential governmental functions and essential infrastructure
- Newspapers, TV, and other media
As of today, most public K-12 schools and colleges have closed because of the outbreak. Local school districts, however, are continuing to serve meals during the shutdown. Please check your school or school district's website for more information. Also, here are some links to public school district meal offerings in Senate District 15:
Lakeside Joint School District – contact school directly
Loma Prieta Joint Union School District – contact school directly
Also, if you have been subject to price gouging, please report such instances to the Attorney General's office via phone (800-952-5225) or website https://oag.ca.gov/consumers. You may also contact your local police department or sheriff's office.
Please see The Labor Workforce Development Agency for more information on actions Governor Newsom has taken to help everyone whose job has been impacted by this crisis, including extended sick leave, unemployment benefits and more. Also, please see this information about personal steps you can take to slow the spread of the disease.
For more information, you can check out these websites: the federal CDC website on COVID-19, and our state and county Public Health department websites: the CDHP, and Santa Clara County Department of Health.
Friendly reminder: it's also very important for all of us to continue washing hands, not touch our faces, cough into an elbow not our hands, and practice social distancing — maintaining six feet between others.
It's critical that we continue to follow facts, not fear. We all have an important role to play to protect our and our community's health. While these are challenging times, let's stay calm and maintain a mindset of care and compassion for each other and all of our neighbors and community members.
Senator, 15th District