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Blog Live Blog: COVID-19 updates for Milpitas

Live Blog: COVID-19 updates for Milpitas

11:58 p.m., April 23, 2020:

At present Milpitas has 66 total cases of COVID-19. The total cases in Santa Clara County are up at 1,987; and there have been 95 deaths total. 

6:49p.m., April 20, 2020: 

As of this evening, the total coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County are 1,922. Six new deaths were announced today, bringing the total to 83. 

The Beat also caught up with Councilmember Anthony Phan about the new non-public COVID-19 testing site that just opened last week in Milpitas. 

The site, which was spearheaded by Phan, was the result of a joint effort between The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals and Clinics and the City of Milpitas, and is targeted toward Santa Clara Medical Center patients. The Milpitas City Council has supported the project in full. 

Like other regional testing facilities, this one operates in drive-thru fashion, the better to protect patients and healthcare workers alike from potential viral spread. 

It is located at the Milpitas Sports Center, which has already been closed for normal activities in accordance with the standing shelter in place provisions. It opened this past Wednesday, April 15, and was active from 8am to noon. 

Only patients who have been prescreened and referred by their physicians are eligible for coronavirus testing at the site. 

Said Phan in an interview with The Beat, “I think that combating coronavirus is probably the top priority if not the only priority on every stakeholder’s mind right now. Everybody was probably thinking the same thing, I just happened to bring [the testing site idea] forward. The Council was unanimous.” 

He went on to add, “The testing will probably save lives,” but also sounded a clear note of sobriety: “This is a testing facility in a very limited capacity. At the end of the day, the County Health Office has the final say as to the expansion. 

“We’re working closely with the private sector, trying to secure additional resources and expand the program. The program as it is is through the County. We’re working to make it more accessible. 

“It’s only a drop in the bucket. We still have a long way to go. It’s definitely a positive step, and I think everybody can use that optimism right now.” 

11:50p.m., April 16, 2020: 

In a press conference on Thursday, President Donald Trump presented guidelines for reopening the country, broken down into 3 distinct phases. Trump mentioned that State governors around the country have the authority to put these guidelines into action, in contradiction of his claim earlier this week of having absolute authority over the states.

The presented guidelines can be accessed here.

The implementation of the phases is contingent upon confirming lower infection rates and establishing increased access to novel coronavirus testing. Its 3 phases go as follows:

Phase 1 — People work from home where possible. People avoid groups of 10 or more where social distancing is not possible. Churches, cinemas, and sports venues can open for business, but they have to follow standard social distancing rules.

Phase 2 — Schools are allowed to open. People can travel for nonessential reasons. 

Phase 3 — People no longer have to work from home. Hospitals and nursing homes can open their doors to visitors.

To graduate from one phase to the next, the states are advised to continue in a given phase for approximately two weeks so as to ensure that viral cases are not on the rise.

The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are advised to keep sheltering in place until their given community reaches Phase 3.

Here in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has spoken recently of how day-to-day life could be drastically altered until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is developed and made available. Two days before Trump announced his plan, Newsom announced six steps for easing stay-at-home restrictions: 

1. The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating and supporting those who are positive or exposed

How prepared is our state to test everyone who is symptomatic?

Do we have the ability to identify contacts of those who are positive to reduce further transmission?

2. The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19

Are older Californians and the medically vulnerable living in their own homes supported so they can continue appropriate physical distancing?

Have we developed a plan to quickly identify and contain outbreaks in facilities housing older Californians, those living with disabilities, those currently incarcerated, and those with co-morbidities?

3. The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges

Do we have adequate bed capacity, staff and supplies such as ventilators and masks?

Can our healthcare system adequately address COVID-19 and other critical healthcare needs?

4. The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand

Have we built a coalition of private, public, and academic partners to accelerate the development of therapeutics?

Have we identified potential therapeutics that have shown promise?

5. The ability for businesses, schools and child-care facilities to support physical distancing

Have we worked with businesses to support physical distancing practices and introduced guidelines to provide health checks when employees or the general public enter the premises?

Do we have supplies and equipment to keep the workforce and customers safe?

6. The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary

Are we tracking the right data to provide us an early warning system?

Do we have the ability to quickly communicate the need to reinstate these measures?

Newsom would not put a firm date on where stay-at-home restrictions would begin to ease up; although he did say he’d have more of an idea in a couple of weeks. He also mentioned that although the plan was to ease restrictions, there will most likely still be a need to wear face coverings and practice social distancing for some time. He also spoke of the possibility of restaurants reducing their quantity of tables, in order to create more distance between future customers. And he mentioned that there might be a need to stagger school schedules, come the Fall, so that students are in smaller groups on campus.  

1:25p.m., April 13, 2020:

In a press conference, Governor Gavin Newsom mentioned that he will be unveiling a plan for easing restrictions in the state. Newsom, along with governors from Oregon and Washington, released a  joint statement today, announcing the formation of a Western States Pact, in an effort to collaborate together to re-open the economy. “I don’t want to overstate this vision, I don’t want to overstate this framework. And I don’t want to understate the imperative of meeting this moment by continuing to practice appropriate social distancing and practicing physical distancing, so we can continue to bend the curve,” said Newsom. He spoke of an “incremental release of stay-at-home orders that advance the fundamental principal of keeping people healthy, keeping people safe, using science to guide our decision-making, and not political pressure…” Tomorrow, at his noon press conference, Newsom will lay out plans for the easing of restrictions in California in the coming weeks.

12:50p.m., April 13, 2020: Also, according to the latest reading on the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s Coronavirus Data Dashboard, there are now at total of 1,621 cases. In Milpitas, there are 48 cases. Last update to these numbers was on April 12.

11 a.m., April 7, 2020: It looks like California’s shelter-in-place order is working, according to Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer. Cody showed a graph earlier today at the board of supervisors meeting, which indicates that the estimated total of confirmed cases in the county will be far less than if the county took no shelter-in-place action.

Dr. Sara Cody presented this chart to county supervisors Tuesday. The chart’s red line indicates what the number of confirmed cases would have looked like without a shelter-in-place order.

On March 9, Cody ordered the country’s first coronavirus-related lockdown.

8:40 a.m., April 4, 2020: Yesterday, the Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. announced 75 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 1094. They also announced 2 additional deaths, bringing the total to 38. They also announced, yesterday, that all homeless individuals who’ve tested positive now have shelter. More on this here.

3:05 p.m., April 1, 2020: New research from medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases produced an estimated COVID-19 death rate of 0.66%, more than 6 times that of the flu, which has a death rate of 0.1%.  This new number is a fraction of the recent World Health Organization (WHO) figure of 3.4%, which came about by dividing the number of early confirmed cases by the number of those who died.  The Lancet study painstakingly accounts for probable numbers of infected people whose infections have not been diagnosed/confirmed. Still, when only factoring in confirmed cases, the study produced a death rate of 1.38%. Most of those who die from COVID-19-related issues are in their 80s. This in mind, experts anticipate a surge of new cases and deaths here in California and the rest of the United States in the next 2 weeks, as a result of increased testing capacity and accelerating virus spread. 

11:45 a.m., April 1, 2020: Watch the address Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan delivered to MUSD families here, and read the address Milpitas High School Principal Francis Rojas delivered to MHS seniors concerning grades, Trojan Olympics and prom here. “Our bottom line is that we will have a graduation ceremony,” Rojas wrote.

9:10a.m., March 30, 2020: Yesterday, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced 55 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the County to 646. No new deaths have been announced.

4:43p.m., March 27, 2020:  President Trump just signed the $2 trillion stimulus bill, the largest in U.S. history.

4:38p.m., March 27, 2020  Santa Clara County just announced a new web resource where residents can see daily updates on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Every day, the site will be updated at 2pm. Data available will include the cases in addition to info describing them.  The resource is here: sccphd.org/coronavirus Today, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department announced 1 new death, bringing the county total up to 20. In addition, 574 Santa Clara County residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Authorities estimate that this figure is a very small percentage of the people with actual infections, due to currently limited testing capacity. Said the County in a press release, “Individuals and organizations can help slow the spread of the virus by strictly following the Health Officer Order to Shelter in Place.”

11:00 a.m., March 25, 2020 The closure of Milpitas schools has been extended to May 1, 2020. The Santa Clara County Office of Education just put out a statement, saying that all schools in the County will be closed until this date. More details on this story soon.

11:00 p.m., March 24, 2020 The United States Senate has just approved a $2 trillion stimulus package to aid the economy and hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Associated Press reports. We’ll have updates on what this means for small business owners and the economy of Milpitas soon.

12:00 p.m., March 23, 2020 COVID-19 has reached the Milpitas Fire Department. As of now, two firefighters are confirmed to be infected. Four others are under close evaluation, as well. One firefighter’s spouse has the virus, too. A recruit at the fire department is symptomatic, as well, and has been under quarantine. This individual was exposed to someone carrying the coronavirus.  Said Milpitas Fire Chief Brian Sherrard, “It is our belief that there is very little chance of infection to the public. My priorities right now are the safety of the residents in our community and our first responders who serve them.” He went on to say that being under quarantine is difficult for the firefighters, who are motivated to be out working and fulfilling their oath. Yesterday, it was announced that a crossing guard in Milpitas tested positive for coronavirus. Yesterday, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department also announced that there were 2 new deaths due to the coronavirus, along with 39 new cases in the County. That brings the total number of cases to 302.

9:00 a.m., March 23, 2020 In case you missed it: The VTA will effectively be offering free rides to passengers indefinitely. All VTA buses will have the front of the bus cordoned off and have passengers enter only the rear door. Only riders who need a ramp will be allowed through the front door. Since the fare collector box is in the front of the bus, this means rides will be free on all VTA buses. Light rail trains will also follow suit. Starting today, the Rapid 500 line, which connects San Jose Diridon Station to the Berryessa Transit Center, will be suspended. Riders must take routes 64A, 64B or the 68 instead. Additionally, all school trip services will remain suspended.

9:00 a.m., March 21, 2020 Two new deaths from the coronavirus were announced yesterday by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. One was an adult male in his 80s who was hospitalized March 3 and died on March 17. The other death was an adult male in his 70s. The death toll in the county is now eight. In addition, the department announced seven new coronavirus cases, bringing the county total to 196 confirmed cases.

8:45 a.m., March 21, 2020 Yesterday, the IRS announced it has pushed its traditional April 15 deadline to file taxes back to July 15. The US Department of Education has set the interest rate to all outstanding student loans to zero for at least 60 days. Borrowers also have the option of delaying their payments for 60 days, starting March 13.

11:05 a.m., March 20, 2020 Milpitas mayor Rich Tran addressed the city last night concerning the coronavirus. He spoke briefly about the city’s local emergency declaration, assured residents the city’s government is functioning, encouraged people to practice social distancing and warned against panic buying. “I want to encourage folks to have faith and look after your neighbor,” Tran said. Watch the address here.

11:00 a.m., March 20, 2020 Read the stay-at-home executive order California Governor Gavin Newsom issued yesterday.

7:05 p.m., March 19, 2020 Read the letter California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed to President Donald Trump, where Newsom estimated 56 percent of Californians would eventually contract COVID-19 over an eight-week period this spring.

7:00 p.m., March 19, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered a statewide shelter-in-place.

2:20 p.m., March 19, 2020 As Milpitas hunkers down, friendly residents are volunteering to help out seniors and other vulnerable residents during the shelter-in-place order. Several community members, including Robert Jung, the founder of the Milpitas Community Educational Endowment, have banded together to form Milpitas Senior Check, a group of volunteers who are willing to pick up food, groceries, and other necessities for seniors and deliver items to their homes for free. “Seniors are vulnerable for this disease,” said Jung.”Ideally, they shouldn’t even be out. We want to provide them with groceries, someone to check in on them, and someone to give them a phone call if no one is home.” Jung said he has a team of 20 volunteers ready to help. The group, which formed just this week, is still trying to make their services to seniors known. As of today, they have not completed a delivery yet. But, once word gets out, they hope to be on call for any and all seniors who want to get necessities but don’t want to risk going out into the public. If you’re a Milpitas senior and would like to learn more about how you can get your necessities brought to you by Milpitas Senior Check, click here. If you’d like to join the team of volunteers, click here.

Noon, March 19, 2020 As the shelter-in-place order continues, some of us might be looking for advice on how to deal with the anxiety of taking care of your loved ones. If you’re the parent of an adult child, you’ve most likely already brought them home from college. Here are a few tips (that we hope you never have to use) in the case the coronavirus pandemic gets a hold of your young one. The Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act, or HIPAA for short, might prohibit you from accessing your adult child’s health information — or even visiting them — in the event your child winds up in the hospital and can’t make their own quality-of-life decisions. To cut through the red tape, your adult child can legally appoint you as an agent with a notarized HIPAA authorization form. This will allow your child to designate certain family members, friends and others who can be updated about their medical info during treatment. You can find a sample of an authorization letter here. To cover all your bases, your adult child can also legally appoint you as their medical power of attorney in the case they become medically incapacitated. You can find a sample power of attorney form here.

March 18, 2020 The Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. announced the 6th coronavirus death in the County. Last total number of COVID-19 cases was reported as being 155.

March 16, 2020 Santa Clara County, along with five other counties in California, ordered a “shelter in place” effective at midnight tonight. Residents will need to stay home, unless they are picking up essential items (like groceries) or doing essential activities (like visiting a medical professional). Restaurants will only be able to offer only delivery or takeout. All public or private gatherings of any size are banned. Read more about the order here.

March 15, 2020 Santa Clara County Public Health officials announced 23 new cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County; total number of cases is now 114. Just two days ago, the second coronovirus-related death in Santa Clara County was announced. Milpitas Senior Check was started to help seniors with small tasks (like buying groceries, picking up medicine, etc.), during this pandemic. If you’re a senior who needs support, or you’re a volunteer who’d like to help out, go here to learn more.

March 14, 2020 The Santa Clara County Library District announced on Saturday that it would be shutting down all 8 library locations (which includes Milpitas) to “protect public health and safety” in response to the coronavirus epidemic. All library locations, along with Bookmobile service, closed to the public at 3pm on Saturday, March 14. The tentative reopening date is set for April 13. Milpitas Charity Bingo announced they were closing down Charity Bingo, effective 12:01 a.m. on March 14. They anticipate closure will last at least three weeks. Milpitas Unified School District announced it would be providing free bagged meals for pick-up at all MUSD school cafeterias from Monday, March 16, to Friday, April 3. Breakfast and lunch will be available to anyone between the ages of 0-18.

March 13, 2020 Milpitas Recreation Services announced closures of the Milpitas Sports Center, Barbara Lee Senior Center, and Milpitas Teen Center. In light of the school closures, MUSD announced that it will offer a flexible learning plan called MUSD EducatEverywhere, so that students can learn at home on Google Classroom and other platforms, starting on March 16. The of San Jose Diocese also suspended Public Masses, beginning March 14, due to the increase of coronavirus cases. At 11:30am, Santa Clara County officials held a press conference, announcing 79 new COVID-19 cases in the county. Public gatherings of 100 or more people are now banned. Also, public schools in Milpitas and throughout the County will close starting March 16 and remain closed until April 3. More on the story here. From MUSD: Superintendent Cheryl Jordan has called an emergency Board of Education meeting for tonight (Friday, March 13) at 6 p.m. to discuss Pandemic Planning for our District. The meeting will be held inside the MUSD Board Room at 1331 East Calaveras Boulevard, Building 500.

March 11, 2020 Mayor Rich Tran announced on his Facebook page this morning that the City would be postponing Council’s vote on the La Quinta Hotel project. The item was supposed to be heard at the March 17 meeting, but according to the Mayor, will be pushed to April 7. Earlier this afternoon, the City of Milpitas wrote about accessing City Hall meetings online — “With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraging the public to stay home if they are currently sick, showing symptoms, have knowingly been exposed to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) or have recently traveled to an infected area, the public will still have access to Milpitas City Council and Planning Commission meetings and provide public comments. Livestreams will be available at the following City pages…” The SJCC Milpitas Extension announced that “…due to the heightened health guidelines recently put in place, most SJCC courses will switch to an online format until mid-April at the earliest. Many community events and meetings have been cancelled; although, classes and afterschool programs are still running.” The Milpitas Chamber of Commerce sent an email announcement this morning, cancelling their March 19 Mixer. March 9, 2020 Santa Clara County issued an order to cancel mass gatherings with more than 1,000 people. Milpitas Unified School District sent out an email notice, announcing all the measures they were taking to protect staff and students. Some examples: Starting this week, custodial staff will be doing a deep cleaning of all MUSD school sites. They also announced that “…during the month of March, and potentially into April, we are cancelling or postponing large events. Field trips involving indoor crowds such as the theater are also being postponed. Indoor sporting events will be limited to players.”

March 6, 2020  The Santa Clara County Library District announced that it would be cancelling all group events for March at all 8 libraries, starting Saturday, March 8. (The Milpitas Library is, of course, included.)

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