The City of Palo Alto is taking the COVID-19 crisis very seriously, and I wanted to share some updates, and a few requests.
Communication is a top priority and the city has launched both a daily e-newsletter (visit cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus to sign up) and a community support call center. You can call 650-272-3181 Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. with any questions or concerns.
Also, please see the city's ads in this issue for more details about service changes and information resources. Don't forget that the Palo Alto Weekly is one of our local businesses and needs your support!
Our City Council meeting this week was hosted via Zoom, and by our next meeting, the plan is to allow public comment/engagement online. Every council meeting for the foreseeable future will have a discussion item about the ongoing crisis. Email the City Council with your input on council items as the preferred way to connect during these challenging times. Email us at email@example.com.
This past Monday, the council passed a moratorium on residential evictions due to income loss associated with COVID-19 and we also asked staff to bring back options to prevent small-business displacement. Since that time, the county passed a similar moratorium. We are assessing this and how it may change our local restrictions.
The council also paused further work on a local business tax and pivoted towards what we can do to support our local businesses and nonprofits.
On that note: Please support local businesses and restaurants. The Weekly, the Chamber of Commerce and the City all have pages showing local businesses that are still open or offering delivery/takeout. (View the Weekly's list of restaurants here.)
Where could we use your help?
First of all — I am worried about social isolation and loneliness. Please call your neighbors or talk from a distance on the street. Share online resources. If you know someone who needs help with food, water or medical care, please offer your help.
Second — our heroes in scrubs at our local hospitals are truly on the front lines and need donations of personal protective equipment (PPE). Each of those organizations has published guidelines for donations, and I encourage our community to give as much as we can. There is also an urgent need for blood supply, so please donate if you can. Go to the City's website at cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus for more ways to help.
Third — our at-risk community of homeless and lower-income residents need our help. Local food banks like Second Harvest and Catholic Charities are in need of volunteers and food. Our City website offers ways to help or to get help.
With our nerves understandably frayed, it is now more important than ever to practice politeness, kindness and generosity. It is critical that we all follow county and city directives to avoid overwhelming our medical system. While you may not agree with decisions that are designed to minimize people congregating or touching shared items, these steps are necessary to stop the spread of the virus.
We have closed some public areas such as playgrounds and tennis courts, and the school district has closed its fields and running tracks. People are cutting padlocks and knocking down fences to get to these facilities, which is unacceptable and unhelpful. If you see this behavior happening, please let people know it is not OK.
As a community, we will persevere through this challenge. I have outlined some of the steps the City and other partners are taking, but it barely scratches the surface of the efforts underway. That said, everyone — your city government, your school district, your neighbors, your employer, your grandparents or your grandchildren — is depending on you to please stay home, to practice good hygiene and to support one another.
We are only as safe as we keep each other.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.