Bay AreaCoronavirus

SFBay Covid-19 morning update: Santa Clara deaths, federal courthouses close

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The Santa Clara County Department of Public Health announced Monday afternoon that two more people in the county have died after contracting the novel coronavirus.

The victims, both men, bring the total death count from Covid-19 in the county to four. One man was in his 80s and the other was in his 50s, per county health officials.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video streamed on his Facebook page Monday evening that one of the men was homeless, but didn’t identify them. County officials didn’t specify or offer additional details on which victim was homeless.

Sonoma County virtual town hall

Sonoma County officials will hold a virtual town hall in English and Spanish on the novel coronavirus Tuesday.

It’s the county’s second virtual town hall since last Wednesday that will be broadcast on television, radio and livestream online.

The town hall Tuesday will address the county’s first two cases of the coronavirus that were contracted within the county and not connected to three people who had been aboard a cruise ship. The two cases came to the county’s attention on Saturday and Sunday.

The Spanish language town hall is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KBBF radio 89.1 FM. It will be streamed live on kbbf.org. Community members may submit questions before the broadcast by leaving a message at (707) 545-8833 or posting a question on KBBF’s Facebook page.

The English language town hall is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will air on radio station KRCB FM 91.1 and 90.9 FM. It will be on television at KRCB Channel 22 and KPJK Channel 60. It will livestream on NorCalPublicMedia.org, KRCB’s Facebook page and Northern California Public Media YouTube.

Supervisor Susan Gorin, Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management Director Chris Godley and Sonoma County Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase will present information and answer questions during the live one-hour town hall.

Questions may be submitted before the broadcast by emailing viewer@norcalpublicmedia. English and Spanish speakers will be available during the live broadcast to take questions.

More information on the coronavirus is available on SoCoEmergency.org and by calling the 2-1-1 information and resource hotline.

Federal courthouses close

The chief judge of the federal trial courts in the Northern District of California ordered Monday evening that federal courthouses will be closed to the public until May 1 and most court functions will be postponed or conducted telephone or video.

Chief U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said that because of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, federal court facilities in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and McKinleyville will be open only to people with official court business beginning on Tuesday.

No federal civil or criminal jury trials will be scheduled until May 1.

In criminal cases, initial appearances, bail hearings and arraignments and other proceedings before federal magistrates will continue, but will all be heard in San Francisco and will be conducted by telephone or videoconference when possible.

In civil cases, motions before the district judge assigned to a case will either be decided by the judge on the basis of the papers, without a hearing, or, if the judge thinks a hearing is necessary, a hearing will be conducted by telephone or videoconference.

Grand jury proceedings used to prepare indictments will be suspended until May 1.

The court district of Northern California includes the greater Bay Area and northern California coast from Monterey County on the south to Del Norte County on the north.

Santa Clara supervisors request aid

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and board President Cindy Chavez called for at least $3 million in aid to be allocated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to assist local nonprofits, prevent homelessness, distribute food and help the community during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Cortese made the proposal on the same day that seven Bay Area jurisdictions ordered a regional shelter in place to tamp down the coronavirus spread and give local medical workers a fighting chance to care for residents without overwhelming health care facilities.

“This rapidly evolving situation requires that we put community first to ensure the delivery of vital supplies such as food, the preservation of housing for those who have suddenly lost their sources of income, and psychosocial support to families and individuals as we face a period (of) unprecedented economic and emotional stress in our lives,” Cortese said in a statement Monday.

Once the regional shelter in place order goes into effect after midnight Tuesday, businesses around the Bay Area will close and workers will lose hours — save for essential services and businesses such as first-responders, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals.

In the South Bay, the City of San Jose — Santa Clara County’s seat and largest city — shifted into Stage 5 of its five-stage emergency plan to respond to the Covid-19 coronavirus disease. The shift shuttered non-essential services such as the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department and transferred workers into food distribution systems that will begin bringing food to elders and children under the age of 18.

Homeless residents are exempt from the order and are encouraged to shelter in place. The county said Monday that it will be working on a system to provide shelter and isolation to homeless individuals who are ill or need care, but official plans have yet to be released.

The emergency funding proposal will be heard by the board at its March 24 meeting.

Alameda courthouses request closure

The Superior Court of Alameda County on Monday said it is requesting an emergency order from the state Supreme Court that would close all its courthouse locations to the public through April 7 in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus shelter in place order in the Bay Area.

Under the request, current temporary restraining orders would be extended by 30 days. Requests for new restraining orders would be accepted at a drop box at the Hayward Hall of Justice, court officials said.

“The Alameda County Superior Court supports the Shelter in Place Order and has determined that it cannot adequately comply with coronavirus-related guidance from Centers for Disease Control, County Health, and other authorities and still remain open to the public” court officials said in a news release.

If the emergency order request to California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is granted, the Superior Court would halt virtually all of its operations, treating them as court holidays for statutory time and date calculations.

“Because the Clerk’s Office will not be open to process unlawful detainer stay requests, the court is also ordering the stay of all evictions pending” from Tuesday through April 7.

Criminal and juvenile case litigants will be able to file documents electronically during the closure, but processing will likely be delayed until the court reopens, officials said.

Sonoma County, cities reduce services

Non-essential services in Sonoma County and the cities of Healdsburg and Santa Rosa will be cut back to reduce the risk of potential community spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, officials announced Monday.

To limit person-to-person contact the county and city governments will focus on providing only essential services and many public facilities will temporarily be closed through April 5 as a result.

Emergency law enforcement and fire services, water and wastewater treatment, emergency road repairs and transit services will continue, officials said.

City of Santa Rosa parks and county regional parks will remain open, but the public is warned to use precautions and avoid congregating at parks, and officials say people categorized as high-risk should stay home.

The public is advised to go online for updates on essential services and alternatives for other services affected by the closure.

Regional trash services to continue

Trash, recycling and compost collection will continue normally in the Bay Area amid the dramatic response to the novel coronavirus, according to a handful of local service providers.

On Monday, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin counties and the city of Berkeley instituted shelter-in-place orders through at least April 7 in an effort to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Throughout the region, people are being told to stay home unless going to the grocery store or the doctor, for example, and many school districts had already announced widespread campus shutdowns.

This means that people will likely be doing more home cooking and engaging in hobbies or other home-bound activities that could result in the generation of larger volumes of household waste that needs to be hauled away.

Waste collection industry leaders, however, don’t expect significant disruptions to their services.

An email statement from Waste Management, which provides services to Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Hayward and parts of San Leandro and San Lorenzo, said:

“We are currently operating the same routes and schedules, however, as the impact of the shelter in place becomes apparent, we will adjust those schedules to service the needs of our commercial and residential customers.”

The statement added:

“Garbage collection is an essential service and the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are not calling for any additional steps to handle (trash) or recycling. … Waste handling is not a disease pathway and has not been identified as needing any special precaution by the WHO or CDC.”

Robert Reed, a spokesman for San Francisco’s Recology, said that while there might be more material collected from homes in the coming days and weeks, he doesn’t anticipate adding additional routes or drivers.

Reed also said the virus and the response to it aren’t disrupting normal service:

“The drivers and their supervisors are working and showing up in force.”

Reed is encouraging people to break down all cardboard boxes and packaging and to crush their cans in order to ensure they have sufficient space in the bins:

“Every little bit helps. … So that would include flattening soda cans and everything you can tear up and crush.”

Also, to help ensure bins aren’t missed on pick-up days, people should put them out on the curb the night before.

Greg Christie, general manager of Bay Cities Refuse, said he anticipates some increase in the volume of residential collections but thinks that will likely be off-set by the diminishing volumes of commercial collections from restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, offices and other businesses.

Christie, whose company operates in Marin County and one area in Contra Costa County, said:

“Commercial debris boxes from construction jobs or people working on houses and stuff, those have dropped off.”

An emailed statement from Republic Services, which serves communities throughout the Bay Area, said:

“While we are confident that we have the right business continuity plans in place to quickly respond to situations that may impact the communities we serve, we apologize for any temporary service delays that may occur.”

The statement added:

“We will continue monitor developments to ensure we address escalated situations quickly, effectively and — most importantly — safely.”

Oakland mayor calls for calm

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Monday called for city residents to comply with an order by health officials to shelter in place to deal with the coronavirus pandemic but also said they should remain calm.

Referring to the shelter-in-place order that was issued for Alameda County and five other Bay Area counties earlier on Monday, Schaaf said:

“This limited order is something we all must take seriously but not panic.”

Speaking at a news conference at Oakland City Hall, Schaaf said:

“There are many things that we as Oaklanders can continue to enjoy while we do the very responsible thing and that is to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

The mayor said:

“We must be clear that essential workers are still going coming to work to do their jobs. While we must practice social distancing we can go about our essential tasks during the day. All essential businesses will remain open. You do not need to run to the grocery store right now.”

Schaaf said:

“This is a rapidly-evolving situation and we in the city of Oakland is working 24/7 to try and ensure that this health crisis is as least disruptive as possible. We’re doing things that are extraordinary to try and make sure we can all recover quickly and bounce back once we have worked through this moment.”

Joining Schaaf at the news conference, District 2 City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas said:

“This is a moment we are all coming together. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.”

She said people can stay in touch by phone, email and text and still walk with other people as long as they stay a safe distance apart.

Bas also said she is glad that the Alameda County sheriff’s office has agreed to temporarily suspend evictions of tenants.

District 6 Councilman Lauren Taylor said:

“Our food supply chain is healthy so there’s no need to panic or stockpile.”

District 3 Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney urged people to remain calm and said:

“We are resilient. We will get through this.”

District 1 Councilman Dan Kalb and District 5 Councilman Noel Gallo also spoke at the news conference.

Santa Clara police officer tests positive

Santa Clara police on Monday said that they were told that an officer tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus and is at home recovering.

The officer is expected to live.

Police are working with the county public health department to let the public, staff and other employees know that the officer tested positive. The officer’s name is not being released.

Police are in the process of working with the county health department to backtrack to find out who the officer may have come in contact with, Lt. Saskia Lagergren said.

The officer last worked March 9 and has since been self-isolating at home. Police are not sure how the officer became infected.

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