County responds to pandemic impacts

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I hope that you and your families are safe and healthy during this pandemic. These are truly unprecedented times and while the majority of residents are not infected, we are all affected. My staff and I compiled some resources for Santa Clara County residents that can help guide you and answer questions as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Please visit my website (https://www.sccgov.org/sites/d1/news-events/Pages/Upcoming-Events.aspx) to view a list of resources including general questions and assistance with food, childcare, distance learning, housing and taxes, as well as resources for workers, businesses and consumers. You can also connect with local groups looking for volunteers and donations.

The Board of Supervisors is taking bold action to provide relief to our residents in the face of this crisis. On March 24, my colleagues and I conducted a virtual board meeting. Among many actions, we approved $2 million for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We also approved $1 million toward Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Support Fund. In addition, $1 million for the Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System is in the works to address the expected increase in at-risk families seeking temporary rent assistance. 

The board also approved a Countywide Urgency Ordinance that puts a temporary moratorium on evictions for both residential and small business commercial renters. This will block evictions for nonpayment of rent due to impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The eviction moratorium will expire on May 31 unless lifted or extended by the Board of Supervisors based on events at that time. It’s important to note that the moratorium does not forgive rent nonpayment or restrict a landlord’s future ability to recover past due rent.

Financial help is on the way for property owners as well. On March 25, Gov. Newsom announced Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as 200 smaller banks and credit unions, have agreed to a 90-day mortgage payment grace period for Californians impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, Bank of America announced that they are deferring mortgage payments on a monthly basis until the crisis is over. Property owners should contact their lender for more information.

Connecting people to nature and outdoor open spaces is more important than ever during this unprecedented pandemic. At the request of both myself and Supervisor Joe Simitian, our Santa Clara County Parks remain open to the public without entry fees. However, it is critical that the trails are used in a safe and responsible manner. Under the COVID-19 Health Order, people may leave their home to exercise, but must comply with social distancing requirements while doing so and then return to their home to shelter in place. The park trails are for exercise only. Social gatherings of any kind are prohibited. This includes picnicking, barbecuing, and hiking in organized groups. Complying with social distancing means remaining at least 6 feet apart from anyone not in your immediate household. 

Accurate data is foundational to combatting COVID-19. In order to get a more precise count of testing in the Bay Area, private labs conducting COVID-19 tests are now required to report all results to the appropriate state and local health officials. Prior to this order, most labs reported only positive results, making it difficult for public health officials to understand how many people are being tested overall. The more comprehensive information will improve health officials’ understanding of the rates of infection and the location of possible infection clusters. To keep up to date on the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Clara and how to protect your family, please visit the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department website.

Mike Wasserman represents District 1, which includes South County, on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.