Covid-19: County Update Call 4/17/2020


  • The supply of available hospital beds and ventilators appears to be in decent shape.
  • The rate of infection (in terms of positive tests) appears highest in the 30 to 50 year old age group. Fatalities are concentrated in the over 80 age group.
  • Face coverings while in public will become mandatory tonight (4/17/2020) at 11:59 PM. But the requirement won’t be enforced until 8:00 AM on Wednesday, 4/22/2020 to give people time to make arrangements.
  • State unemployment financial assistance for gig, independent contractor, etc.1 will be available starting April 28th.
  • Current unofficial unemployment rate in California is 12 – 15%
  • Food pantry organizations (e.g., Second Harvest) need volunteer help and are facing growing supply channel problems (i.e., their normal sources of supply are either offline or not generating much “unneeded” food).
  • County health officers continue to evaluate when and how to re-open currently closed public resources (e.g., parks).

Meeting Notes

The meeting opened up with County Manager Mike Callagy having all the attendees honor all the people who are sacrificing themselves and exposing themselves to risk to help our struggling communities get through this crisis.

Latest stats

  • 30 new cases
  • 797 cases in total.
  • 7 more deaths, 28 to date
  • 30 – 50 age group test positive most frequently.
  • Deaths concentrated in 80+.
  • 94% surge beds available, 82% ventilators available
  • Have tested over 7,700 people
  • Domestic violence calls are up.
  • Ambulance calls below normal, ambulance staff is healthy.
  • Face coverings will become mandatory next week because of asymptomatic infected individuals.
  • Never seen a demand for food (e.g., from places like Second Harvest) like today. And it’s growing.

Comments from Congresswoman Speier:

  • $5 million in contributions from a concerned entrepreneur to a number of NGOs in the Bay Area.
  • Payroll protection plan will be augmented by at least $250 billion, hopefully $500 billion.
  • Trying to develop a special grant program for the hospitality industry which hasn’t been well-served by the existing programs.

Comments from Senator Hill:

  • California Employment Development Division will be open from 8 am – 8 pm next week. Repositioned about 740 employees to handle expected call volume.
  • Pandemic unemployment assistance for gig, independent contractors, etc. workers will be available 4/28. Funds should be distributed within 24 – 48 hours.
  • 3.1 million unemployed in California (12-15% unemployment, unofficial)
  • State set aside $75 million, augmented by $50 million in private philanthropic donations, targeted at California’s undocumented workforce. Plan is for $500 payments per adult capped at $1,000 per household. This 6% of California’s workforce contributes over $6 billion in economic value.
  • Anyone within the agricultural industry working for a 500 or more person firm (?) will be guaranteed 2 weeks medical unemployment pay.
  • Retail sales were down 9% last month. Drop could exceed the first year of the Great Recession.

Second Harvest and other food pantries

  • Anticipating coverage gaps for seniors and other homebound groups
  • 25% of population is at risk for food and/or housing security.
  • How many will that become?
  • Calls for food up from 150-200/day to over 1,000 per day
  • 25 – 100% increase in households using service
  • Volunteers are down, some sites had to be closed, supply chains are less stable
  • Need to be able to incorporate other charitable players
  • Amount of growth seen so far is really challenging

Questions and answers

  • Blood supply is in good shape
  • County is not going to broaden testing protocol (e.g., staying with testing at risk, exposed, emergency workers)
  • Is County seeing pressure to re-open stuff? Health officers keep evaluating whether or not to re-open specific resources. Ultimately up to the health officers. Comment by Congresswoman Speier: “We need to act with humility. We don’t know enough about this virus. We just don’t know enough. For example, there is some evidence exposure doesn’t bestow immunity.”
  • Will shelter in place be extended past 5/3? Don’t know yet. Still under study by health official.
  • Small cities aren’t getting funds. How to backfill? Congresswoman Speier: Move afoot in House to augment monies for cities under 50,000 people. About 11,000 in the country. Another example of how communities like San Mateo County, with a large population but no large cities, get shorted.

  1. people not working as an employee of an organization 

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