Santa Cruz County announces first novel coronavirus death Keep up to date on public announcements and handy guides

Editor’s note: The following is a collection of breaking news updates, helpful informational sites and links to appropriate local institutions that are updating crucial new information about their reactions to the coronavirus. Please send updates and announcements to admin@voicesofmontereybay.org or leave your comments below.

Immigrant and Undocumented Resource Guides Available

A one-stop site for immigrants and undocumented residents seeking information about their status has been published by an organization called My Undocumented Life.

The site includes links to guides from agencies throughout the country, including a resource guide published he California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. That site features information about workers’ rights, access to free food, financial assistance and more. The guide is available in both Spanish and English.

Another useful site is called Immigrants Rising, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower undocumented young people, has created a resource list for undocumented immigrants in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include coping with stress and fear, health access and guidance, connecting to free/low cost resources, legal rights, and supporting businesses. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.

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COVID-19 Patient in Santa Cruz County Dies

Santa Cruz County public health Division said Sunday that a resident of the county has died as a result of complications from the novel coronavirus.

The victim was an adult male in his early 70s with an underlying health condition, according to Health officer Dr. Gail Newel. He was admitted to a local hospital on March 19 with symptoms that included fever and shortness of breath and was confirmed by laboratory testing to be positive for COVID-19. He died in the hospital on March 28.

“We are deeply saddened to have one of our community members die due to this outbreak,” Newel said. “Our top priority is protecting the lives of our community members, and we are working hard to make sure these solemn occasions are as rare as possible.”

The patient was apparently employed in both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. He had not recently traveled and had not had contact with another known case, Newel said. After an investigation, Public Health’s Communicable Disease Unit determined that this infection was community acquired. As of noon Sunday, Santa Cruz County has 45 confirmed cases.

Monterey County has reported 36 cases, as of 11 a.m. Sunday. That number was unchanged in an advisory sent Monday morning. Of those cases in Monterey County, six required hospitalizations and one patient died last week.

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Central Coast Coronavirus Count Reaches 73

Monterey County public health officials said Saturday the number of residents that have tested positive for COVID-19 has reached 34. That number represents an additional eight patients since Wednesday. A total of 452 people have been tested in Monterey County. At last count on Saturday, 39 patients tested positive in Santa Cruz County.

According to a Monterey County Health Department advisory Saturday afternoon, 21 of the patients testing positives were between the ages of 0 to 49, while eight were between 50 and 64, while four were 65 or older. Twenty-three were females and 19 were from the Salinas area. Saturday’s Monterey County briefing was the first that included demographic information. See the link for more information.

Overall, 5,565 cases have been detected in California, with 119 reported deaths. The office also released a resource guide listing various services for people in the region trying to cope with the coronavirus. The guide can be found here.

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Monterey County Approved $250,000 for Food Bank

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved a $250,000 contribution to the Food Bank for Monterey County. Since the COVID-19 crisis, the agency has quadrupled the number of people it is serving.

“There are many non-profit agencies on the front line of this crisis, but few directly meet basic needs for residents throughout the county the way the way the Food Bank can,” said Supervisor John Phillips in a written statement.  “The Food Bank appealed to the County for help when they were overwhelmed by those needing a source of food due to the recent, dramatic economic shift. Their shelves were bare. We have answered their call for help, and we hope others will as well.”

The county is using money from its cannabis tax revenue account to fund the Food Bank.

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Most Monterey County Schools Likely
To Remain Closed through at Least May 4

Schools throughout Monterey County will likely remain closed through at least May 4, according to the Monterey County Office of Education.

“With more and more confirmed cases in our county, our state and our nation, now more than ever iit is important communities in Monterey County heed the Stay at Home/Shelter in Place Orders to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” according to a statement released by the Monterey County Office of Education on Thursday afternoon.

“Education will continue through distance learning, meals will continue to be provided and, where possible, childcare may be arranged,” according to the statement. “School leaders recognize that potentially schools may need to stay closed for the remainder of the academic year and will provide regular updates as the situation evolves. Extending a school closure is a local decision that is not taken lightly and is made by each individual district.”

Deneen Guss, Monterey County superintendent of schools, added: “While we recognize this extension of school facility closures poses challenges and hardship to many families in Monterey County, the health and safety of our students, families, and communities must be our priority. Research shows the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic is by continuing to implement social distancing practices and we need everyone’s help in supporting the stay at home/shelter in place order.”

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Santa Cruz County Restricts Access
To Residential Healthcare Facilities

Santa Cruz County public health officials today ordered that access to all residential healthcare facilities in the county will be restricted to essential people only.

The restriction applies to all skilled nursing, intermediate care, residential care or continuing care retirement community licensed or certified by the state. “Non-essential personnel” include employees, contractors or members of the public “who do not perform treatment, maintenance, support or administrative tasks deemed essential to the healthcare or other primary mission of the facility.”

The public health officer noted that facility residents who are “at the end of their life” can have visitors, as authorized by facility managers. The exemption would include family, close friends, legal representatives and fiduciaries and those providing “services or support of a religious nature.” Even then, mitigation measures will be followed to comply with COVID-19 prevention.

See the order here:

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Monterey County Reports No New Tests Administered; Santa Cruz County Seeks Results of Private Tests

Monterey County public health officials reported today that no new COVID-19 cases were discovered in the county during the past 24 hours. But it also reported that no new tests were administered. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz County health officer has ordered that test results taken from private laboratories be submitted to the county. Up until now, test results of patients at private groups have not been shared with county public health authorities in both Santa Cruz and Monterey.

The Santa Cruz order was issued “because of the risk of the rapid spread of the virus, and the need to protect all members of the community and the Bay Area region, especially our members most vulnerable to the virus and health care providers,” according to the order by Dr. Gail Newel, the health officer. Violation of the order is a misdemeanor and was to begin today.

According to the latest update from Monterey County health authorities, hospitals and health-care facilities have confirmed a total of 24 cases of coronavirus in Monterey County, the same number reported on Wednesday.

They also said that 365 people have been tested in public hospitals to date, which is the same number reported Wednesday. Monterey County released the following charts today:

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Santa Cruz Supervisors and Monterey City Council Pass Moratorium on Evictions

The Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions due to local economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium will remain in place through at least May 31. The Monterey City Council passed its own eviction moratorium during a special session Wednesday evening.

According to the urgency measure, commercial and residential tenants are still obligated for rent due, and the eviction moratorium does not absolve tenants of any financial obligation under ongoing leases or other tenancy agreements.

“For the good of themselves and the community, we encourage tenants and landlords to begin conversations now to work things out going forward,” Supervisor Ryan Coonerty said. “We cannot force people out onto the streets during this crisis. It’s going to take all us working collaboratively together to get through this.”

The Board of Supervisors in Monterey County passed a similar measure last week. The measures apply to homes and businesses in unincorporated areas of the counties. Cities in both counties have passed similar moratoriums or are scheduled to do so in the coming days.

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Local COVID-19 Response Fund Nears $1 Million

A special fund created by the Community Foundation of the Monterey Peninsula and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation has raised $939,594 since it was first created last week.

As of Tuesday, more than half of the total came from the foundations’ donor-advised fund holders. A spokeswoman for Community Foundation said that more than $315,000 worth of grants have already been approved, including $50,000 to the Food Bank for Monterey County. Another 10 grants worth $267,000 will be granted on Wednesday.

The spokeswoman, Amanda Holder, said that another $115,000 has been donated to nonprofit agencies through the directly through the donor advised funds administered by the Community Foundation.

The fund was created in partnership with the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. The majority of donations have come from individuals. Foundations such as the Monterey Peninsula Fund and Claire Giannini Fund have contributed, as well as companies such as Aera Energy.

To donate to the fund or for more information, see here.

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Monterey Council to Consider Eviction Prohibition

The Monterey City Council has called a special meeting for Wednesday for an urgency ordinance that would prohibit evictions of tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 are intended to prevent illness and save lives, these efforts are also having a dramatic economic impact.,” according to Kimberly Cole, the city’s community development director, in her report to the council. “This impact is especially felt by lower income individuals and families who work in the hospitality and service industries, and may now be experiencing reduced work hours or layoffs. The economic impact is also felt by small businesses, which are seeing dramatic reductions in income as a result of the restrictions on public gatherings.”

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order that allowed local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures, and protect against utility shutoffs for Californians affected by COVID-19.

The urgency ordinance would establish the prohibition through May 31, though the order could be extended.

Also, the meeting will be held by “virtual participation only.” The public may watch the live stream of the meeting at https://monterey.org/tv or on television on Channel 25. Public comments can be sent to the City Clerk at  cityclerk@monterey.org. The meeting is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. The entire agenda can be seen here.

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Losses to Monterey County Tourism Industry Could Reach Half-Billion Dollars

Tourism officials in Monterey County said they estimate short-term losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic of up to $500 million.

“Our community and industry have never seen anything like this,” said John Turner, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau board chair and general manager of the InterContinental The Clement Monterey. “We are dealing with both a global health crisis and a dire economic emergency at the same time.”

The bureau says the hospitality industry generated about $3 billion in annual visitor spending and employs about 25,000 people each year.

“Given recent events, these numbers will be drastically impacted as the community sees over a dozen hotel closings and significant lay-offs,” according to a written statement released by the bureau. “Currently the destination faces an estimated loss of $400 to $500 million in visitor spending in the first 90 days of this crisis. This is a rough, point-in-time estimate as situational factors escalate daily. “

Rob O’Keefe, interim president and CEO at the bureau, said that the “one slight positive” his group has noticed is that more than 60 percent of the conferences and many marquee events are postponing rather than outright canceling, “which means that revenue generated should be deferred to later this year and into 2021.

The county is home to about 12,400 hotel rooms, including approximately 4,500 in the city of Monterey alone.

“Our hotels and restaurants are innovating as best they can — and our team is working with travel and meeting planners who are eagerly planning to return when the time is right,” said O’Keefe.

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Mental Health Resources Available

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is circulating a guide to mental health coping strategies for those struggling emotionally with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus can significantly affect mental health for everyone, but especially for those with mental illness,” according to Katherine Ponte, a mental health advocate. “Both the anxiety of contracting the disease as well as the increase in loneliness and isolation and trigger symptoms. “Acknowledging, recognizing and acting on mental distress in these uncertain times is key to lessening the impact.”

A complete guide to information and resources produced by NAMI can be found here.

The Monterey County Behavioral Health has also included updated resources with information, including a tip sheet and a list of virtual recovery groups. That link can be found here.

A NAMI Hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at  (800) 950-6264.

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Health Department Shuts Down Golf Courses

The Monterey County Health Department on Monday ordered that all private and public golf courses should close.

The order is in accordance to a list of essential sectors and related essential workers issued by state health officials following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “stay at home” order last week. “Unfortunately, golf courses and employees that staff golf courses are not on the list,” according to county health department statement.

Several golf courses in the region had remained opened through the weekend. The county’s statement said that “workers that are necessary to minimally maintain the course are considered essential and may continue to report to work provided they comply with ‘social distancing’ requirements.

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CHOMP Ends Hospital Visitations

Visitors will no longer be allowed to enter Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in an effort to protect patients and staff from the risk of coronavirus, according to hospital officials.

Exceptions will be made in these very limited cases:
• One birth partner for patients in labor
• One parent or guardian for NICU and pediatric patients
• One parent if patient is a minor seen in the Emergency Department or in an outpatient
appointment
• End-of-life patient visits will be at the discretion of the nursing supervisor

“We know this is difficult for families with someone in the hospital,” according to a written statement from the hospital. “To stay connected, we recommend using phone calls, FaceTime, or Skype. You can also send a card, gift, or flowers, which can be ordered on our website, www.chomp.org.

“Hospitals around the county are implementing similar restrictions as we all work to control the spread of illness. We appreciate the public’s understanding of these changes as we seek to keep the community safe. See here for more information.

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CHOMP Treats Its First COVID-19 Patient

Officials at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula reported on Saturday  it has seen its first patient who has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient is a Monterey Peninsula resident who did not require hospitalization and was sent home with instructions to self-quarantine. As of Saturday afternoon, the health department reported 11 confirmed cases among Monterey County residents.

“Our first case, of course, wasn’t a surprise,” said Dr. Steven Packer, Montage Health president and CEO in a written statement. “We have been anticipating the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 cases for some time. While this is our first case, it certainly won’t be the last.”

According to a release from the hospital, the patient came to the Community Hospital Emergency Department and was seen in the adjacent triage tent. The patient was immediately isolated, and recommended for testing, following the hospital-established protocol designed to protect patients, staff, and community. “The way our staff prepared and assessed the patient was exactly how we had planned,” Packer said. “It was the most controlled environment possible.”

Monterey County Health Department will determine whether this case was community-acquired, related to travel, or acquired from direct contact with a known case, according to CHOMP officials.

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First COVID-19 Death Announced in Monterey County

Monterey County health officials Saturday reported the first death of a Monterey County resident due to complications from COVID-19. The adult individual was hospitalized and had an underlying health condition that “predisposed the individual to having more severe disease,” according to a release from the department. The department said no additional information about the victim is being released to protect the family’s privacy.

“This is a tragic development,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County health officer and director of public health. “The Monterey County Health Department is taking necessary, carefully considered steps to slow down the spread of the disease and to protect those at greatest risk. We are facing a historic public health challenge and know this is a very difficult time. Our top priority continues to be protecting the health of our community.”

There have now been 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus among Monterey County residents, at least two of which appear to have been acquired locally, according to health officials. The department’s statement said health officials continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Public Health.

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Edible Monterey Bay Offers Food Tips

Edible Monterey Bay has issued a list of 10 ways local residents under state orders to stay home can support local businesses while eating nutritional meals. 

“We know readers of Edible Monterey Bay are passionate about sustaining the local foodshed, so we’ve brainstormed ideas on how you can help restaurants, farmers, fishermen, beverage artisans, food banks and more survive these uncertain times,” said Marc C. Anderson, editor of the Edible.

Read the list here.

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Panetta Asks SBA to Translate Assistance Guidelines

Rep. Jimmy Panetta , D-Carmel, has asked the Small Business Administration to immediately provide Spanish-language online resources for small business owners seeking coronavirus-related assistance through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provides the SBA additional funding and authority to make low-interest loans available to businesses facing economic harm from COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, through the EIDL program.  The administration acted quickly to set up a process for states to apply for COVID-19 disaster loan eligibility.  However, administration web pages related to COVID-19 guidance and resources, and pages to apply for COVID-19 EIDL loans, specifically, are only presented in English.

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Protocols Released for Farmworkers

Monterey County health officials and representatives from the agricultural industry today released “advisory protocols” for farmworkers in Monterey County.

Monterey County on Tuesday issued a shelter-in-place” order, and on Thursday Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus crisis. Agriculture is considered an essential businesses exempt from both orders. exemptions on both orders. “Knowing the critical role farmworkers play in agriculture, local elected and agriculture leaders quickly went to work to devise enhanced worker safety measures to ensure employee health and safety,” according to a statement released Friday afternoon from Monterey County’s administrative offices.

“The Monterey County Agriculture Worker Protection Advisory Protocols are voluntary, but all these associations are supporting and encouraging their members to implement them at their worksites expeditiously.”

Read the protocols here:

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Health Department Will Update Public Daily

Officials at the Monterey County Public Health Department announced today they would start sending informational updates with local coronavirus news daily.

Earlier this week, the officials said they would send the updates once a week, citing a staff shortage.

But leaders of six different news organizations, including Voices of Monterey Bay, pushed back on the policy, sending a letter to Dr. Pedro Moreno of the Health Department  early Friday urging him to reconsider.

The email, drafted by Sara Rubin, editor of the Monterey County Weekly, sought improved communication with local journalists. Local media has been unable to gather basic information about local preparedness measures in the community from the county, and reporting of new cases has been piecemeal and reliant on local hospitals.

“This is absolutely unacceptable to the public, and to us in the press,” said the letter to Moreno. “Our combined tens of thousands of readers, listeners and viewers rely on us to provide accurate and up-to-date information. Your shelter-in-place order defines journalists as ‘essential’ services in this time. We require your essential data in order to fulfill our essential obligation to the public.”

About four hours after the letter was delivered to Moreno, a county spokeswoman sent messages to representatives of the media that the Health Department is “changing its plan” and would be updating its websiite daily. “Please be aware, the data will only report cases which have been confirmed,” said spokeswoman, Maia Carroll. She added that updated local date can be found on the Health Department’s information page (www.mtyhd.org/covid19), using the “Testing and Case Numbers” link.

See the full letter here:

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Peninsula Stores Offer Exclusive Hours for the Vulnerable

Four markets on the Monterey Peninsula have established shopping hours dedicated for senior citizens and people with existing health issues.

According to a notice from the city of Monterey, Andronico’s in Pacific Grove will be open to vulnerable residents only from 7 to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; Safeway in Del Rey Oaks will be available from the store’s opening until 9 a.m.; Target is open to seniors and people with health conditions from 8 to 9 a.m. on Wednesdays. Whole Foods in Monterey will offer an hour of shopping for people over 60 years of age starting at 8 a.m. daily.  Identifications will be checked at the door at Whole Foods.
The city notice said that “all stores are asking customers to respect the hours and reserve this shopping time for those most at risk.”
Officials at many of the other chain stores are apparently evaluating their options.
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Interim Offers Mental-Health Hotlines

Officials at Interim Inc., the mental-health housing organization in Monterey County, have closed its Omni Wellness Center, but individuals can contact counselors and obtain assistance by phone, by text or by email.
Also, Interim-operated residential and treatment programs are closed to visitors to protect the health and safety of our clients. Services to residents and clients are still being performed, as mental health service providers such as Interim are classified as “essential services.”  Counselors and case workers are working closely with our clients to help them cope with this crisis and navigate services available to them, according to officials there.
Interim is also accepting donations of non-perishable food. Many clients are on limited or fixed incomes that make it financially difficult to stock up on food. The agency are collecting canned foods to supplement their resources. If you would like to donate items such as chili, soup, canned meats or fish, peanut butter or other non-perishable staples, you may do so at 604 Pearl St., Monterey, or 31 E. San Luis St. Salinas.
The hotline number is 831-800-7660. The text help number is 831-998-7916. The Interim email help address is omni@interiminc.org
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MST Offers Free Fares

To promote social distancing, Monterey-Salinas Transit is providing free-fares on all routes.

According to MST officials: “All passengers able to board independently are asked to get on and off the bus through the back doors, if available. Exceptions will be made for passengers with disabilities who require the use of the ramp or need assistance. During this uncertain time, MST is Fare-Free but NOT carefree –please remember to practice CDC recommended precautions by keeping  6 feet away from others and using hand sanitizer often. MST has stepped up its efforts to keep employees and the community safe and we need our passengers to do the same.”

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Social Services Benefits Tip Sheets

The Monterey County Department of Social Services is circulating information about their benefits and services for people in need during the county’s Shelter in Place order. The instructional tip sheets are available in English and in Spanish.

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State Parks Shuts Campgrounds;
Trails & Beaches Still Open

California state parks officials have closed campgrounds temporarily in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, though non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open.

In a statement released late Tuesday, officials said “visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to take soap for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.”

See the full advisory here.

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First 2 Cases of Virus Found in Monterey County

Two Monterey County residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19, the Monterey County Health Department announced today. These are the first laboratory-confirmed cases among residents of Monterey County.

The two people who are ill with the disease are recovering at home in isolation. Health department officials believe that they acquired COVID-19 during international travel. See here for more information.

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Monterey County Issues Shelter in Place Order

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shelter
Read the Monterey County press release

Monterey County’s Public Health Director issued a shelter in place order that will continue through at least April 8.

Temporarily making these drastic changes to our lives and routines may be frustrating, but it is critical to slowing the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Ed Moreno, the public health director. The order will begin at midnight Marcch 18. The order requires people to stay in their homes unless they have critical business to tend to, including trips to the grocery stores or pharmacies.

Residents can tend to their pets, take walks or be outside as long as they are not gathering as a group. For more information, see www.mtyhd.org/covid19 or read the county’s guide to how to shelter in place here.

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Agencies Vow to Continue Services to Most Vulnerable

Retirees are generally the most dependable volunteers for nonprofit agencies, but those older volunteers are now worried about contracting the coronavirus. As a result, area nonprofits are struggling to provide needed services to the most vulnerable populations on the Central Coast.

But officials for those agencies say they will continue to feed the hungry and service the homeless as long as they can. “The truth is, there is no shelter in place for our people,” said the kitchen director at Dorothy’s Place in Salinas, and Dorothy’s is the last and only stop for hundreds of homeless people in Salinas. See Voices’ story here.

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Monterey County Board of Supervisors Stops Evictions & Foreclosures

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning asked the county’s superior court to suspend eviction proceedings against renters who are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19, through at least May 31. The action came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order halting foreclosures and evictions in the state.

The Board of Supervisors later set a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures from properties in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County.

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Osio Theater in Monterey Shutters
Operators of the Osio Theater announced Tuesday morning it is temporarily closed, effective immediately.
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State Sen. Bill Monning Statement
Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, released the following statement:
“Friends, yesterday and last night, the State Senate and Assembly passed two emergency budget bills to support Californians during the coronavirus (covid-19) State of Emergency.
“1) AB/SB 89 authorizes $500 million (up to $ 1 billion) to support immediate healthcare infrastructure support including but not limited to: leasing and activating two hospitals, hotel beds for homeless, support for local governments to reduce COVID spread in homeless populations, assistance to hospitals, nursing homes, and acquisition of public health surge equipment. Also, included funding for cleaning of childcare facilities and IHSS/APS strike teams to support senior isolation AND
“2) ABSB 117-continued funding for public schools that are in recess due to health emergency including an additional $100M authorized spending for purchase of protective and cleaning supplies for school districts.
These emergency measures received bi partisan and unanimous support in both houses. The legislature is in recess to abide by state of emergency guidelines but offices will remain open and active depending on local district requirements. We will maintain electronic and phone accessibility and will be working in our districts to provide constituent services with unemployment insurance and other emergency procedures.
Both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties have joined other Northern California counties with resolutions requiring “stay in place” for all residents with exceptions for specified essential services. Monterey County Board of Supervisors considering various actions today.
“Be safe, wash hands frequently.. Maintain physical separation but build social networks of support for one another. PROJECT CALM, CONFIDENCE, and HAVE A PLAN… this can also be contageous and helpful as we join to help each other during these challenging times.”
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Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s Statement

Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel, released the following statement via Facebook on Monday evening:

“Following CDC guidelines and practicing social distancing this weekend and today. In that spirit, today I called, rather than met in person, with many local leaders, business owners, folks in our hospitality industry, and representatives at local food banks to hear their concerns and talk about federal response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“I know workers and employers are getting hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus. That is why we, in our federal capacity in the House of Representatives, worked to pass two bipartisan emergency funding bills – one to prepare and protect our communities and address public health, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which includes:

* Free testing for the coronavirus: we ensured that all individuals, including the uninsured, have access to free testing for the coronavirus.
* For families’ economic security: we secured paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. We have also secured enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers.
* For families’ food security: we strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including CalFresh, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks. 22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school meals for their food security; we must ensure that they have food to eat.
“I know that more must be done.  I am calling on Congress to formulate a third economic stimulus package that includes components to protect and assist the economic well-being of the hospitality industry and its employees, the self-employed, and small businesses.”I will keep fighting to make our communities whole as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
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Santa Cruz County Imposes Shelter-in-Place Order

More information here.

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Cal Am Water Service

California American Water officials announced the company will stop shutting off water to customers who have not paid their bills during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In an effort to keep our customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic, California American Water will be placing a moratorium and discontinuing service shutoffs for nonpayment at this time,” according to an email distributed to customers Monday morning. “We will continue to evaluate this moratorium as more information becomes available. Additionally, California American Water will begin the restoration of service to previously shutoff customers. The restoration may take some time, but we will work as quickly and safely as possible. If your service has been turned off prior to March 12, 2020, we will restart your service if it is safe to do so.”

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SPCA Still Open

Pets still need loving homes, and the SPCA in Monterey County is still open but under new guidelines. Starting today, the SPCA has established new guidelines.

“We ask that you please only visit us to adopt or use one of our vital services,” in a statement. “Starting today, March 16, we will begin offering adoptions by appointment to serious adopters only. We will also let drop-in adopters in on a limited basis when they arrive if they are interested in adopting a specific pet.” For more information, see the SPCA’s press release here.

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School Meals

While schools throughout Monterey County are shut down, the Monterey County Office of Education has announced that meal programs will continue in districts.

Individual districts are developing their own plans for nutrition services, and many of them are preparing “pick-up” sites for meals at selected schools. MCOE has created an online site with updates for what the districts are doing, but it also suggests that people with questions contact their children’s schools for more information. A list of how the nutrition-service programs are operating in each district is available here.

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Housing Issues

Officials at Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey have asked landlords around the campus to allow students to break their leases after the school shut down the campus for in-class instruction.

“As you can understand, many of our students may need to leave Monterey and return home,” said Naomi Braswell, operations director at MIIS, in an email to landlords sent on Friday. “As this is a very difficult time for all of us, especially our students, I’m writing to ask that you are understanding and supportive of their need to break their lease. I understand the impact this may have on those of you who do have leases with our students. However, anything you can do to help in this difficult time would be very much appreciated.”

MIIS officials announced it was suspending in-person classes last Tuesday, opting to move to online instruction for the remainder of the term due to the spreading coronavirus. All other functions at the private graduate school have been canceled. Students may opt to return home to continue their online instruction. The school is on spring break this week.

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Disability and Family Leave

The state Employment Development Department announced that Californians who aren’t working because they have been exposed to the coronavirus or because someone in their family needs their care due to the pandemic may be eligible for unemployment or family leave benefits.

Among other things, the executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday waives the one-week waiting period for people who are unemployed and/or are disabled as a result of COVID-19.

The EDD has created a handy page to explain benefits, eligibility and suggested steps for employees and employers impacted by the coronavirus. See the page here.

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Breaking updates

Pajaro Valley Unified School District schools will be closed starting Monday. More information here.

Santa Catalina Schools in Monterey has temporarily ended classes. More information here.

Monterey County Free Libraries will close March 16. More information here.

Diocese of Monterey Bishop Daniel Garcia says parishioners are dispensed from attending mass for the rest of the month. More information here.

The Big Sur Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26, has been postponed. More information here.

UC Santa Cruz extends remote instruction through the end of spring quarter. More information here.

NOTE: City councils and boards of supervisors in the region have not canceled meetings, but are encouraging citizens not to attend but to watch the proceedings from home online or through their PEG cable channels. See appropriate city and county websites for more information.

Non-essential municipal offices in Watsonville will be closed next week. More information here.

Santa Cruz Library will close for at least two weeks after Saturday. More information here.

All Monterey County schools will be closed for the next two weeks. More information here.

Monterey Sports Center, Library and Parks facilities to close March 14 to March 31. More information here.

Santa Cruz County schools to close next week. More information here.

CSUMB classes suspended for a week, alternative instructional delivery starts March 20. More information here.

Monterey Bay Aquarium shutters for two weeks. More information here.

Monterey County Symphony cancels March 14-15 concerts.  More information here.

Monterey’s Tuesday Farmer’s Market suspends operation for two weeks. More information here.

Sunset Center in Carmel announces closure. More information here.

California Department of Public Health urges cancellation of mass gatherings. More information here.

Italian Catholic Federation Lenten Dinners canceled. More information here.

Dominican Hospital limits visitors. More information here.

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Useful information about the pandemic

  • The most comprehensive guide to the coronavirus we’ve seen is here, from Ars Technica, with constant updates. The bottom line: “You should be concerned and take this seriously. But you should not panic.”
  • The Centers for Disease Control here. “This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.”
  • Monterey County Health Department updates information on its COVID-19 site regularly. “There is a lot of information available about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself here for you to review.”
  • A story from Vox explains “flattening the curve here. “Flattening the curve means that all the social distancing measures now being deployed aren’t so much about preventing illness but rather slowing down the rate at which people get sick.”

  • Talking to children about coronavirus here, from the Centers from Disease Control.  “Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.”
  • How China and South Korea got a handle on the virus here, from The New York Times’ podcast, The Daily. “This is a no chances approach, in which anyone who might have the virus is not really given a chance to go home, to go back to the office and perhaps transmit it to somebody else.

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Local medical information

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Educational institutions

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.

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