Coronavirus Live Blog, April 2, 2020: County Braces for Impact

Scroll from the bottom up to read in chronological order. And click here to catch up on the rest of our coronavirus coverage. 

4:35pm: Past the 1,000 mark.

Santa Clara County is now reporting that 1,019 people out of 9,218 tested for COVID-19 have been diagnosed with the pulmonary disease, an increase of 63 positive tests in the past 24 hours. Thirty-six of them died and 198 remain hospitalized.

4:17pm: Stock it to me.

A couple of teenagers spent their spring break building a website—instok.org—that helps people find out what’s in stock at their local stores.

“When we came back from college, we realized that our parents were really struggling to find some grocery items,” 19-year-old Rithwik Pattikonda, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, told ABC News, in an interview about the startup. “When we saw the news, we realized that the issue was much more widespread.”

Pattikonda teamed up with his friend Darshan Bhatta, an 18-year-old freshman and fellow computer science major at the same university, to develop the site, which has since garnered national news coverage and spared an untold number of families from making unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

4:06pm: Masks on.

California’s public health officials are now suggesting that people use cloth face coverings when they leave home to conduct essential activities. The state-issued guidance does not mandate face coverings and is no substitute for social distancing and hand-washing, but officials say some barrier is better than none.

The state is not recommending use of N-95 masks, however, since first responders face a shortage of personal protective equipment.

“Wearing a cloth face covering could provide some additional benefit by acting as a reminder for other people to keep their distance,” California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said, “and it could help reduce the spread of infectious particles from those who could be infected but don’t have symptoms.”

2:50pm: EDD kicks into overdrive.


As we mentioned in the previous post demand for unemployment benefits has reached historic heights throughout the nation. In California, according to the latest data from the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD), 878,727 claims were processed during the week ending March 28. That’s a 370 percent jump over just the week prior.

“The massive around-the-clock staffing and IT efforts the EDD has undertaken is helping the department automatically push a large volume of claims through our system, allowing us to issue payments to Californians in need as quickly as possible,” EDD Director Sharon Hilliard told reporters in an announcement today.

Meanwhile, she added, her office has been working on figuring out how to roll out new provisions under the the federal CARES Act. Those include additional $600-a-week payments for workers with an unemployment insurance claim.

“Barring any big surprises in that guidance when it arrives, it is EDD’s hope that the extra benefit payments can begin next week and continue thereafter as bi-weekly payments come due for unemployed Californians,” the agency noted in a press release today.

The EDD is also awaiting guidance about how to grant an additional 13 weeks of federally paid unemployment benefits when someone runs out of all of the support offered through the state. In California, regular state benefits can be made for up to 26 weeks within a one-year timeframe.

Because of the pandemic, self-employed Californians who normally wouldn’t qualify for jobless benefits are eligible for the safety net program.

Since there are so many new applicants for the payments who have never applied for unemployment benefits before, the EDD has created a new step-by-step guide to steer you through the process. There’s also a series of video tutorials in five different languages. Click here for the latest updates from the EDD.

1:50pm: Jobless claims soar.

Yikes. Applications for unemployment benefits just hit a depressing new record.

1:34pm: A plea from the frontline.

Hospital workers at Valley Med reminding us what this stay-home mandate is all about.

1:24pm: Less traffic = fewer crashes.

A new study shows that California’s traffic collisions have fallen by half since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide stay-at-home order on March 19.

Before the mandate, researchers at UC Davis estimate that the state saw about 1,000 collisions and 400 injury and fatal crashes a day. Since shelter-in-place became the new norm, those same researchers now see a daily average of about 500 collisions and 200 injury or fatal crashes as traffic has fallen by about 60 percent.

Click here to read the full report.

1:15pm: Dead serious.

Just four months into the pandemic, and the novel coronavirus is officially the third leading cause of death in the country, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. COVID-19 now kills 748 people per day nationwide, per Dr. Maria Danilychev, who created the above chart using data from worldometers.info. Only heart disease and cancer claim more lives each day.

12:58pm: Ride it out.

The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will give a $50 gift card to Sports Basement to four randomly selected people who who take a ride, snap a picture and upload it on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #joyridesv. To qualify, first register here as a participant. Winners will be announced next Wednesday.

12:38pm: The meal deal.

Silicon Valley Strong

Silicon Valley Strong is helping struggling families find more than 400 locations with free, nutritious food countywide, using our interactive map: bit.ly/SVStrongFood. Thanks to our partner cities, nonprofits, schools, faith-based groups, and companies supporting our vulnerable seniors, youth, and neighbors. To get or give help: SiliconValleyStrong.org.

Posted by Sam Liccardo on Thursday, April 2, 2020

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez briefed the public about where families can find food during this time of need. Alongside Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and San Jose Unified, the two local leaders unveiled a new searchable map of food distribution sites on siliconvalleystrong.org.

Meanwhile, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) has linked arms with with catering company My Green Lunch to keep its promise of continuing to feed students amid the pandemic-related shutdown.

My Green Lunch says it will serve students healthy meals in environmentally friendly compostable packaging for as long as campuses remain closed.

“We are so grateful to partner with a business that is committed to helping families and the community,” SCCOE Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Dewan said. “Many students and families rely on schools for meal service.”

Food distribution is available from 11:30am to 1:30pm every Thursday and Friday at the SCCOE Ridder Park location in San Jose.

“We are a purpose-driven company with a deep passion for helping our community,” My Green Lunch CEO Todd Evjenth said. “During these unprecedented times we need to take unprecedented measures. That being said, My Green Lunch has completely shifted our focus from providing healthy school lunches to providing healthy, emergency meal relief. The time to unite is now and through a collaborative effort we will ensure emergency meal relief throughout the Bay Area.”

For every $5 donated, one free meal will be provided to someone in need. Click here for more information about how you can chip in.

12:30pm: So few for a county of so many.

A new report by Self Financial shows that, of all large metro areas in the U.S., Santa Clara County has the fifth fewest healthcare workers per capita.

The analysis found that the county of nearly 2 million people is home to just 64,100 total healthcare workers, which amounts to 3.21 for every 100 residents. For reference, here are the statistics for the country as a whole:

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.90
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 12,764,180
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 8,646,730
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 4,117,450
  • Population: 327,167,439

To read the entire study, click here.

12:15pm: ‘We feel powerless.’

Dr. Nivedita Lakhera.

A doctor from San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital penned a heart-wrenching column in USA Today about the emotional trauma faced by healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Nivedita Lakhera said she submitted the piece after waking up to news of a fellow physician’s suicide last week.

“Every day I talk to colleagues who are struggling with the painful deaths of patients and health care workers,” she wrote. “They work while fearing infection from this highly contagious and fatal disease. They lack protective equipment.”

“As a result, they have trouble focusing,” she continued. “They have a hard time sleeping. When they do sleep, they wake up in the middle of the night with an impending sense of doom and helplessness as though their own deaths are imminent.”

“I can’t let another friend die.”

12:08pm: Shopping list.

While other countries and some jurisdictions in the U.S. have been warning the public about places visited by people who tested positive for COVID-19, Santa Clara County has opted to keep that information under wraps.

In the absence of that kind of data from our local public health authorities, some employers have taken matters into their own hands by warning workers about certain businesses with reported exposures. Below is a list provided by a distribution company to its delivery drivers that the general public might find useful as well.

11:51am: The surge.

Hospital Surge Response Plan and Data Updates | LIVE with the County of Santa Clara | 2020-04-02

The County of Santa Clara is committed to maintaining the health of our entire population. Join us Monday through Friday on Facebook Live at 10AM PST for the latest information on COVID-19. Today we are hosting a press conference about the County’s effort to coordinate with hospitals in preparation for a surge and updates about COVID-19 data.Valley Health Connection:If you have symptoms including cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first before going into any clinic or hospital. If you do not have a regular doctor or are unable to contact them, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center's Valley Connection can be reached at 1-888-334-1000 for questions and appointment scheduling if you are directed to go in for testing.Full transcript: https://pastebin.com/51e9PQR0

Posted by County of Santa Clara Public Health Department on Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is gearing up for a surge of patients as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Silicon Valley.

At a news conference this morning, Dr. Jennifer Tong—who’s organizing the county’s hospital surge plan—said her team has focused on three priorities to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

The first is to obtain vital personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic. “It is crucial that every person who’s taking care of patients in our community has access to the supplies and equipment that they need to stay healthy,” Tong said, “because their ability to continue working is one of the most important parts of our surge capacity planning.”

The county has also on upped the number of hospital beds and sped up hiring to bolster the medical workforce. Tong said the county will be releasing an intake form sometime in the next few days for retired healthcare professionals who want to join the fight.

County Supervisor Cindy Chavez also announced the unveiling of two new dashboards that provide the public with up-to-date information on hospital and medical equipment capacity, as well as how many COVID-19 tests have been conducted by local labs.

“The reason this is so important is we want you to know what you can do to help and also what’s happening on your behalf,” Chavez said. “I think it’s very concerning. If I was at home, I’d want to know this information and that’s why we’re making it public.”

As of April 1, 8,246 people have been tested for COVID-19, with 956 of them testing positive. The county has 1,028 hospital beds available in 11 hospitals—92 of them in the ICU. There are also 619 ventilators total and 392 are currently available.

The surge division led by Tong as part of the county’s Emergency Operations Center has been working with the federal government on setting up additional hospital beds, including 250 in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

“The capacity of our health care system to respond to large events is expandable and elastic,” Tong said in a press release earlier today “Hospitals in our area are prepared to increase the number of hospital beds available to care for those affected by COVID-19.”

—Grace Hase

7 Comments

  1. Every time I look, I read something saying this is getting worse. How is it getting worse if everyone is sheltering in place and we are flattening the curve? Is it just that more people are being tested?

    Not being argumentative — just honestly want to know, as a concerned citizen eager to get back to work for real.

    • Because the virus takes 2 days to 2 weeks for people to develop symptoms and then a little more for it to be serious enough to go to a hospital and get tested. We’ve been in lockdown for 2.5 weeks so around now is when we should start seeing peak hospitalizations or people getting bad enough to want to visit a hospital. The next 2 weeks are when we should see the results of sheltering in place.

    • There’s a lot of Hype out there Calm, the majority of it is regurgitated rumor and fear mongering.
      Obviously the more we test the more cases we are going to find and the number will look scarier and scarier.
      We have been told for weeks now that the number of deaths is going to grow exponentially week over week.
      That has not happened yet. The President is being advised that it will happen in the next two to three weeks. I guess we will see if that happens or not.

      There’s all kinds of stat out there that you can study. Several that will likely scare you, but plenty that will make you scratch your head and wonder what we’re doing.

      Good luck, stay well.

      • Thank you both for the helpful responses. Yes, as the number of positives goes up with more testing, it could get scarier. But if the percent of positives with no or mild symptoms goes up, hopefully it gets less scary. Let us see.

        To keep mass panic down, I would love to see the media showcase a few more of those cases — people with no symptoms or people who have recovered completely.

        We are getting a lot of exhortations to “take this seriously” (which I do), but with a shortage of tangible data.

  2. > Who is at Higher Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19?

    > Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

    > Older adults (65+)
    > Individuals with compromised immune systems
    > Individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    > Heart disease
    > Diabetes
    > Lung disease

    WELL DUH?!

    How about people who ride mass transit?

    California COVID-19 cases: 8,155
    New York City COVID-19 cases: 48,462

    What’s different between New York and California?

    New York City has a much higher number of mass transit riders than California

    • > New York City has a much higher number of mass transit riders than California

      New York City also has a high proportion of skyscrapers and high rise apartments requiring elevator rides.’

      Just try your social distancing in a crowded elevator.