ARCHIVE - Coronavirus Updates - April 16-21
NOTE: This page is an ARCHIVE of KAZU's online coverage, of April 16-21, 2020.
TUESDAY, APRIL 21
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz has launched their 2020 digital Earth Week celebration! Special at-home activities and fun arts and crafts are available for download all week long. You can also take a virtual underwater dive and explore different national marine sanctuaries along the coasts.
The City of Santa Cruz will resume enforcement of beach area parking meters this Friday, April 24. Beach area meter enforcement had been suspended in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet increased traffic with nicer spring weather has prompted enforcement to restart.
This decision in conjunction with closed parking areas along West Cliff and East Cliff drives, encourages minimal non-essential travel in observance of the shelter-in-place orders.
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel is preparing a new order requiring patrons and staff at essential businesses to wear face coverings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The order impacts public, commercial and governmental spaces where face-to-face interactions may pose a risk of transmission, including grocery stores, health care offices, restaurant pickup counters, public transit, essential government offices and more.
When wearing face coverings, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Face coverings should be washed regularly. Face coverings can be -
• Homemade masks
• Neck gaiters
• Towels or other cloth materials
Face coverings should:
• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
• Be secured with ties or ear loops
• Include multiple layers of fabric
• Allow for breathing without restriction
Due to ongoing shortages of personal protective equipment, the public is discouraged from using medical-grade masks, such as N95 masks or surgical masks. Those supplies should be reserved for health care workers and first responders. If you have medical-grade masks and would like to donate them, click here.
As of April 20, Santa Cruz County is reporting a total of 108 known cases of COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2 cases since April 19. 2 people have died from the virus and 18 have so far required hospitalization. 2,849 negative tests have been recorded. 56 people have recovered from the virus. More details on how quickly cases are doubling in the county compared to others can be found here.
The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and the Monterey Public Library are this Thursday, April 23, providing free books to students to celebrate World Book Day. The distribution site is at Monte Vista Elementary School in Monterey from 10 am - 2 pm. Social distancing is required and participants are asked to stay in their vehicles and drive through the Grab-N-Go lunch line.
A number of major items will be covered at today’s Monterey City Council Meeting:
Firstly the proposed Renter Assistance Program will be discussed in the afternoon session of the Council. It would provide assistance to Monterey residents who have been laid off due to the pandemic. It would be available to any resident, not just furloughed city employees.
The city employee layoffs will be discussed during the evening session. The city manager has proposed laying off 83 active employees and eliminating some unfilled positions. The city manager emphasized that the employees who are being laid off work for facilities that are closed due to the pandemic and are expected to be re-hired when those facilities are re-opened.
There is expected to be a lot of public comment on both the layoffs and the County’s use of the Monterey Fairgrounds for COVID-19 patients.
The Monterey County Fairgrounds, in the city of Monterey, have been identified as a location that could be used as an alternative housing site during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this a number of events have been cancelled:
The Home and Garden Expo of Monterey, scheduled for April 18-19, 2020; Monterey Bacon Festival, June 13; Monterey International Blues Festival, June 27; and Monterey Scottish Games and Celtic Festival, Aug 1-2; have all been cancelled, with no new dates announced.
The Artichoke Festival, scheduled for May 30-31, has been rescheduled to Aug. 8-9, 2020; and the California Roots Music & Art Festival (Cali Roots), originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 22-24, has been rescheduled for Oct. 9-11, 2020.
As of April 20, the California Department of Public Health says there are 33,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. 1,268 people have died. That’s an increase of 60 deaths since April 19.
Local health departments have reported 3,704 confirmed positive cases in health care workers. 300,100 tests had been conducted in California (some of the results from those tests are still pending).
If you didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents, the IRS is asking you to act by noon eastern time tomorrow (Wednesday, April 22). This is in order to add $500 per eligible child to the one-time cash payment of $1,200 that is being sent out as part of the coronavirus aid package.
The California Department of Public Health says as of April 19, the state has 30,978 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 1,208 deaths have been reported. Local health departments have reported 3,584 confirmed positive cases in health care workers. This includes on-the-job exposures, and other exposures, such as travel and close family contact. More than 290,500 tests had been conducted in California. At least 283,317 results have been received and another 7,200 are pending. The state says they’re collecting more detailed racial and ethnic data that will provide “additional understanding for determining future action”.
California State Senator Bill Monning is hosting a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, April 22, from 11 - 11:30am. He’ll be discussing how the public health crisis is impacting the Central Coast. Monning will be joined by ER Physician Dr. Casey Grover, to provide insight and perspective on COVID-19 in our communities. Register in advance here.
MONDAY, APRIL 20
SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Santa Clara County is today reporting 1,922 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county. A total of 83 people have died. On Sunday, April 19, 41 news cases were reported and 6 new deaths. 189 are currently hospitalized.
Richard Stedman, the Air Pollution Control Officer at the Monterey Bay Air Resources District, says our region is currently experiencing some of the cleanest air recorded in decades. He says 70 percent of air pollution in our community comes from vehicles, and 60 percent of all pollution comes from adjoining counties. He says the decrease in vehicle traffic has been the biggest contribution to the current conditions.
The Monterey County Public Health Officer, Dr. Edward Moreno, says he is in discussion with neighbouring counties and Bay Area jurisdictions about when to ease shelter-in-place restrictions. The region is working on a coordinated plan.
The California Department of Public Health says as of April 17, 258 skilled nursing facilities in the state have reported one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes one facility in Salinas. Windsor The Ridge Rehabilitation Center has reported more than 11 cases amongst staff and patients.
Monterey County says they have so far received 15 trailers from the State. These trailers, similar to a 30 foot long RV, will be used to isolate patients rather than for patients that require treatment. 10 are in San Lorenzo Park in King City and 5 are at Marina airport. 80-90 are still to be received.
San Lorenzo Park, King City has been identified as a possible future alternative housing site.
Marina Airport has been identified as a possible future alternative care site.
The City of Monterey says between 100 and 150 people can be housed at the Monterey County Fairgrounds when and if it is transformed into an alternative housing site*. This location was previously identified as a confirmed alternative housing site by Monterey County officials.
City officials say a ‘code of conduct’ contract will have to be signed by individuals housed at the site. This is in response to concerns by neighbors that individuals might leave the facility and walk around the neighborhood.
*Alternate housing sites are temporary housing for persons who have been confirmed COVID-19 positive or being monitored but require minimal or no medical care and live in compromised, congested, or congregate living situations with no alternate housing.
Community leaders from the Salinas Valley will be hosting a virtual town hall tomorrow (Tuesday, April 21) at 6pm.
Those participating include local Congressman Jimmy Panetta, County Supervisor Chris Lopez, and the mayors of Gonzalez, Greenfield, King City and Soledad. The CEO of Natividad and the Director of the Monterey County Health Department will also take part.
Participate via Zoom, use the Meeting ID: 973-0711-2525.
Or use the call in numbers:
US: +1 669 900 6833
or +1 346 248 7799
or +1 929 205 6099
or +1 253 215 8782
or +1 301 715 8592
or +1 312 626 6799
Or follow on Supervisor Lopez’s Facebook page.
City of Monterey Councilmember Tyller Williamson is hosting a “Talks with Tyller” session today (April 20) at 6pm. These meetings occur on a regular basis before council meetings (1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month). This week Williamson will focus on local updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can participate by joining Google Hangout Meets or by phone (+1 406-578-3526 PIN: 703 408 058#).
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
Both Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties are reminding the public that all state parks and beaches are closed to vehicular access. Some parks are temporarily closed to all public access, including walk-ins. They say unfortunately, during these trying times, many state parks and beaches have experienced visitation surges that make it impossible for the public to implement a safe, physical distance of 6 feet from others.
Santa Cruz and San Mateo county parks fully closed to all public access at this time include the following:
Santa Cruz County (Effective April 16 – May 3; Longer if deemed necessary)
Castle Rock State Park (SP)
Big Basin Redwoods SP
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
San Mateo County (Effective April 16 – May 3; Longer if deemed necessary)
Bean Hollow State Beach (SB)
Portola Redwoods SP
San Gregorio SB
SUNDAY, APRIL 19
The California Department of Public Health now reports 30,333 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That’s an increase of 2,751 cases since Friday’s report. 1,166 people have died, an increase of 181 deaths. Local health departments have reported 3,523 positive cases in health care workers. As of April 18, more than 280,000 tests have been conducted in California.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
Santa Cruz County officials are currently reporting 104 known COVID-19 cases among Santa Cruz County residents. That’s an increase of 6 cases since Friday. Two people have died from the virus and 17 have needed hospitalization. 48 people have recovered. The total number of negative lab test results in the county is 2,672. Click here for the county’s data dashboard.
The Monterey County Health Department announced another death from the coronavirus over the weekend. That brings the total number of Monterey County residents who have died from COVID-19 to 4. As of April 18, the Health Department says there are 141 known COVID-19 cases among Monterey County residents. That’s an increase of 22 cases since April 15. Local labs have reported conducting 2,343 tests to the Health Department.
Hospitality and tourism organizations in Monterey County are working together to prepare for recovery once shelter-in-place orders are lifted. The focus will be on business and marketing recovery. Back on March 24, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated a short-term loss of $400 to $500 million in tourism spending during the first 90 days of the pandemic. The same modeling projects over a billion dollars of loss should the pandemic continue for the next six to nine months.
FRIDAY, APRIL 17
Santa Clara County issued new guidance on face coverings Friday. County officials are strongly urging all individuals to wear them while out of their homes. Face coverings could be a bandana, scarf, towel or any other piece of cloth or fabric. County officials say they’re critical for essential activities, including doctor appointments, grocery shopping or riding public transit.
Caltrans is allowing food trucks to temporarily operate at state rest areas to support truck drivers during COVID-19. Food truck operators can apply for a temporary permit to work at one or more of the state’s 86 rest areas. The permits will be valid through June 15. This news comes on the heels of an executive order by Governor Gavin Newsom. The order suspends restriction on selling commercial food at the state’s rest areas during this crisis.
The California Department of Public Health now reports 27,582 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. That’s an increase of 1,400 cases from Thursday’s report. 985 people have died, an increase of 95 deaths. More than 258,800 tests have been conducted in the state. Local health departments have reported 3,155 positive cases in health care workers.
California State Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Eduardo Garcia applauded Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order extending two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to essential workers in the food industry, which includes agricultural workers. Rivas and Garcia’s “California Farmworker COVID-19 Relief Package” proposes to expand paid sick leave for farmworks, provide supplemental hazard pay, fund an educational outreach campaign about best practices during this time and more.
The Bureau of Land Management has launched a California Educational Resource webpage for children who need something to do while stuck indoors. You can take a virtual nature walk, explore a National Monument, and find lesson plans.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
The Pajaro Valley Unified School District released its upcoming meal schedule. PVUSD is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute food at three school sites.
Santa Cruz County officials are currently reporting 98 known COVID-19 cases among Santa Cruz County residents. That’s an increase of two cases since Wednesday. 2 people have died from the virus and 17 have needed hospitalization. 45 people have recovered so far. The total number of negative lab test results in the county is 2,560. Click here for the county’s data dashboard.
The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is running a Pet Food Pantry next week to help pet owners in need. Free pet food will be distributed at the Shelter’s Education Center (2260 7th Ave, Santa Cruz) on April 21 and 28, from 10am to noon. The Shelter is also accepting pet food donations at their front door (1001 Rodriguez St, Santa Cruz).
The Monterey Police Department says they have received numerous complaints of non-essential businesses operating during the county’s shelter-in-place order, which is a violation of the order. This week, Monterey Police detectives posed as customers and visited over 30 businesses. They found one that was not operating within the guidelines of the order, Twisted Roots on Alvarado Street. Detectives say they had previously warned the business they were not essential and had to close to the public. On April 15, they issued the owner of Twisted Roots a citation. Detectives continue to provide extra patrols during this time and encourage business owners to ensure alarm systems are activated and that lights are left on inside. They also say windows should not be blocked so police can observe any activity inside.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is reminding the community that the use of short term rentals, hotels and inns for vacation purposes are not allowed under the shelter-in-place order. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office has received complaints that short term rentals may be advertising their facilities and potentially encouraging travel, which violates the order. Appropriate uses of short term rentals include providing lodging for healthcare workers and other essential employees, Monterey County residents who need to isolate or quarantine themselves, or residents who must leave their homes because they’re living with someone who is ill.
The City of Monterey is now offering a live stream option for their city council meetings. Through the city’s partnership with Access Media Productions (AMP), meetings will now be broadcast live on Monterey’s YouTube channel. The City has also developed an easier call-in option, which will allow the public to make comments. The phone number to call in will be published on the agenda, which will be posted at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The next Council meeting is at 4pm and 7pm on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The city’s proposed layoffs will be taken up.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula reported Friday that it’s been 9 days since they have had a positive test for COVID-19. Officials attribute this to the effective shelter-in-place orders.
As of April 15, the Monterey County Health Department says there are 119 known COVID-19 cases among Monterey County residents. That’s an increase of 11 cases since Tuesday. 3 people have died from the virus and 22 have needed hospitalization. 22 people have recovered. Local labs have reported conducting 2,198 tests to the Health Department.
In a very rough estimate, Dewayne Woods, assistant county administrative officer for Monterey County, said the projected loss in the county’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), a tax charged to guests in hotels, motels and vacation rentals, is around 50 percent for next year. The coronavirus is impacting summer travel. Typically, TOT is around $24.9 million annually.
The Interim Chief Medical Officer of Mee Memorial Hospital, Dr. Robert Valladare, said new policies are taking effect at the hospital. Everyone that comes onto the hospital grounds must wear a mask and soon, everyone will have their temperature checked. Modified visitor policies and restricted access to the hospital are already in place. Mee Memorial serves around 50,000 people in King City, Greenfield and Soledad.
Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno says COVID-19 cases in Monterey County are occurring in a variety of settings, including households and within businesses. He reminds the community that no sector of Monterey County is protected from this virus. He said the best way to stay healthy is to continue following stay at home orders and social distancing requirements.
The Monterey-Salinas Transit, or MST, will provide a mobile wi-fi unit to students in Greenfield today. Access to wi-fi has been a challenge in the Greenfield area. So, MST will provide wi-fi in the form of a bus at Patriot Park Community Center in Greenfield from 2pm to 5pm this Friday. Requests for MST wi-fi enabled buses must be submitted through the Monterey County Office of Education, Department of General Services and Business Support for consideration.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced Friday they’re reducing staff and senior level salaries in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Aquarium says they had to make the difficult decision to lay off 93 employees and furlough an additional 128 employees. Together, it represents a 38 percent reduction in workforce. The Aquarium will also implement a 20 percent pay reduction for executive leadership and vice presidents along with a 10 percent pay reduction for employees who make more than $100,000 per year. The Aquarium says these actions will ensure the health and safety of the animals continues and that facilities are maintained. The Aquarium closed on March 12 and the revenue shortfall is projected to be at least a 60 percent drop, or $40 million, through the end of the year.
All affected employees were given two weeks’ notice and are eligible to file for unemployment. The Aquarium will cover health insurance premiums for furloughed employees.
THURSDAY, APRIL 16
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
According to the Santa Cruz County Health Officer, there are currently 98 known COVID-19 cases among Santa Cruz County residents. 2 people have died from the virus and 17 have needed hospitalization. 41 people have recovered. The total number of negative lab test results in the county is 2,514. Click here for the county’s data dashboard.
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel is encouraging people to wear face coverings. She said the virus is transmitted through large droplets and that wearing a mask protects others. Dr. Newell said you must wash these masks at least once a day.
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel says any changes to the county’s stay at home order will involve a slow and long process. Any lifting of the order would happen in stages, such as allowing low-risk activities to resume first. Examples of low-risk activities include gardening and landscaping work, golfing and childcare at day centers.
Santa Cruz County beaches and parks are now back open after a week-long closure due to the holiday weekend. Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel hopes everyone can enjoy these open spaces responsibly. If large gatherings happen, the county may need to close these areas again.
The California Department of Public Health now reports 26,182 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. 890 people have died. More than 246,400 tests have been conducted. Local health departments have reported 2,974 positive cases in health care workers.
State Senator Anna Caballero, who represents Senate District 12, has been working to collect masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protection equipment for farmworkers and other essential workers in the Salinas Valley. The Resource Recovery Coalition of California, an organization of solid waste companies, has joined the effort as they continue to provide essential services throughout Northern California. If you’re interested in donating personal protection equipment, you can contact Senator Caballero’s Salinas office at 831-769-8040.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta’s office says local communities have seen a spike in domestic violence cases being reported during stay at home orders. Congressman Panetta has joined over 80 members to call for funding for domestic and sexual violence programs. He said funding provided in the CARES Act was insufficient to address the problem and that no funding was provided to support sexual assault surivors. Panetta also sent a letter to House leadership requesting more funding for the Pet and Women Safety program to help increase shelter capacity for domestic violence survivors and their pets.
California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, announced a new task force that will work to close the digital divide for California students. The task force will help students who lack access to resources such as internet connectivity or devices. The Closing the Digital Divide Task Force will be co-chaired by California State Senator Connie Leyva and will help facilitate donations. The California Department of Education has recently been working to get devices and wi-fi hotspots to students and schools in need.
The Los Padres National Forest is temporarily closing roads and trails within the Monterey Ranger District. The closures took effect Thursday, April 16 and will continue through June 1, 2020. Officials say heavy vehicle traffic and large groups of people were using the area, creating challenges around social distancing. Officials also noted that some roads, trails and trailheads are near homes, which could increase exposure risks of COVID-19 to local residents.
The City of Monterey is reducing staff by 107 positions, potentially impacting as many as 84 active city employees as the coronavirus continues to disrupt the economy. City Manager Hans Uslar says the positions mostly come from operations that have been suspended due to shelter-in-place orders. Those operations include community centers, the library, the Sports Center and the Conference Center. Uslar said no active police, fire, emergency or public works employees are being furloughed. The City has a total workforce of 450 people.
The layoffs need to be approved by City Council. The Council is scheduled to vote on the issue during next Tuesday’s meeting. If approved, the layoffs will be effective June 1st. The City earlier announced a $10 million revenue loss from March through June.
VNA Hospice has ordered masks from a nonprofit organized by a family in Pacific Grove. The family startedMasks for Monterey County as a Girl Scout service project in collaboration with Wellness for Toula. Masks for Monterey County connects seamstresses with healthcare workers and other essential workers who need masks.Click here to find out how you can help sew masks. So far, VNA Hospice has ordered 300 masks from the nonprofit.
As of April 14, the Monterey County Health Department says there are 108 known COVID-19 cases among Monterey County residents. 3 people have died from the virus and 22 have needed hospitalization. 22 people have recovered. Local labs have reported conducting 2,132 tests to the Health Department.