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Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information: Santa Clara County and Bay Area, California

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

How Long will California have to Shelter in Place?

We don't know. Cases of COVID-19 are still high throughout the U.S., Bay Area included.

In the summer, of 2020 California issued a statewide plan (Blueprint for Safer Economy) listing what businesses and activities are allowed in its counties, depending on a standard set of metrics. Counties will be allowed to move to a new stage of operations when those indicators are doing well, but if those metrics go up, that county will need to close down the higher level for at least 3 weeks, and until its indicators improve, As of this writing, nearly all counties in the state are classified at the most restrictive level ("widespread"), the purple tier. However, on Jan. 25, 2021 California State relaxed the emergency shelter-in-place regulations that were even more restrictive, and Santa Clara County is back at the purple tier level. Read on for details.

PlaneTree Health Library's  webpages will be updated regularly (in some cases, daily) with the latest accurate, verifiable, news you can use during this pandemic.

Help with Medical Costs During the Pandemic

If you feel sick and do not have health insurance at present, call your local county public health department or your usual source of health care for additional instructions for any screening or testing.

If you are going to lose health insurance because you lost a job, you can sign up for it through Covered California (via the Affordable Care Act).


Recent California state orders and national legislation have declared that testing for the coronavirus should be at no cost to the patient (and all testing at sites sponsored by Santa Clara County is free). Likewise, there should be no cost to get vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2.

However, follow-up care for people sick with COVID-19 can be expensive. For more information on help with the costs of COVID-19 medical care, see:


The people in our communities who are immigrants to the U.S. may be reluctant to seek medical care if they are ill. The California Department of Public Health's has stated that "For families that are concerned about the "public charge" rule, immigration officials have confirmed that they will neither consider testingtreatment, nor preventative care related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination, even if provided or paid for by one or more public benefits considered under the rule including Medi-Cal." Please seek care and help when needed!

Undocumented workers may qualify for Paid Family Leave in some circumstances, or for other relief funds. Legal Aid at Work has compiled a resource list for undocumented people during this pandemic. For more information and assistance, you can call (415) 864-8208 or (866)864-8208 (toll-free).

This order from the California Governor's Office states that "workers in the food sector, including farmworkersagricultural workers, and those working in grocery stores and fast food chains, and as delivery drivers" shall receive paid sick leave for COVID-19 (either their own illness or leave to care for a family member). Businesses in the City of San José must also give their workers paid sick leave related to COVID-19 through December 31, 2020.

Food Assistance During the Crisis

Isolating at home makes it hard to shop for food; so does being out of work. Here are some resources for individuals, families, seniors, kids - and even pets.

Food Banks offer free food baskets and other food assistance. Telephone Second Harvest of Silicon Valley Food Bank at 1-800-984-3663 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, or apply through their website. Their staff can provide information and assistance in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tagalog. 


Meals on Wheels service to homebound seniors is expanding. A senior, their family member, or a caregiver can apply by calling 1-800-505-3367. More information and online applications in multiple languages on their website. They are not the only senior meal resource during this crisis - the interactive map links to other county resources for seniors, too.

On April 24, 2020, Governor Newsom announced a subsidized meals program for vulnerable or at-risk people 65 and up in California, in partnership with local restaurants. For more information and to see if you (or a family member or neighbor) qualify, call 211 or visit the statewide COVID-19 information webpage link below.

Many local grocery stores chains (and some independents) have set up special shopping hours for seniors and/or other vulnerable people, to make it easier for them to access what they need.

Many school districts in Santa Clara County are distributing grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to children (and some to adults too) Mondays - Fridays, and sometimes covering the weekends too

FIRST 5  Family Resource Centers are providing free infant formula, diapers, other infant care materials, and service referrals to families in need. Use the interactive map on the link below to find the nearest Family Resource Center and its details.


There are some organizations helping out with food for our pets, too. Elders who qualify for the Senior Nutrition Program or Meals on Wheels can also receive food for their furry companions; and some animal rescue organizations offer pet food support as well.

Economic Support During the Pandemic

There are several measures being proposed and enacted to help people who are hit hard by this pandemic. The following are currently approved for people in California and/or in communities in Santa Clara County.

California offers financial assistance to people with confirmed COVID-19 and to those who care for them, through the state Employment Development Department (EDD).  From the California Department of Public Health website:

Individuals who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim.

Californians who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim.


Unemployment: CA EDD will waive the usual waiting period for those who lose their jobs (or have their hours significantly cut back)  due to this crisis. During the pandemic, "self-employed, independent contractors, part-time workers and those with a limited work history who are unable to work as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency" are now eligible for unemployment benefits too.

Legal Aid at Work has compiled a resource list for undocumented people during this pandemic. For more information and assistance, you can call (415) 864-8208 or (866)864-8208 (toll-free). 


Housing relief:                

Santa Clara County families in need of emergency housing services can contact the Health Trust's network of Family Resource Centers; people who are unhoused, or in danger of being homeless, may wish to contact Destination Home for temporary housing and homeless support services. Housing support is also one of the services for immigrants provided by Amigos de Guadalupe.

If you are at risk of losing your housing or missing a rent payment, you can place your name on an interest list for the Rental Assistance Fund. The fund provides temporary financial assistance and supportive services to low-income families or individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless. And the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley offers legal assistance with civil problems - housing, health (including mental health), children's issues.

California has a statewide moratorium on evictions when the reason renters can't pay is due to the pandemic (that is, loss of work due to layoff, furlough, needing to care for a child or someone else in the home, coronavirus illness or quarantine). This also applies to commercial rents for businesses that have been ordered to shut down. Back rent will need to be paid, but it's not due all at once when the moratorium ends, however. Tenants have 6 months to pay 50% of back due rent, and a year to pay back due rent in full. In August 2020 the state passed a bill to to extend this moratorium through January 2021.

 new On Jan. 20, 2021 President Biden set a nation-wide rent moratorium until March 2021 for renters directly impacted by the pandemic .

If facing eviction even though you believe that you should qualify for the moratorium, the tenant legal aid resources linked below may help.

Homeowners - including landlords - also qualify for mortgage relief.


Governor Newsom's executive order on  April 2, 2020 protects water services in homes and businesses from being shut off for nonpayment, during emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PG&E stated on March 13 that "PG&E will not disconnect any customer's power for nonpayment during this health crisis." Their CARE program to reduce bills for customers facing economic hardships may also apply (check their website to see if qualify).


Support for unhoused / homeless :


The CARES Act deferred some payments on student loans and / or interest on student loans, and loan forbearance is now extended through September 30, 2021.

Volunteer opportunities

Feeling frustrated? Do you have extra time on your hands, during the shelter in place? Here are some ways we can - safely! - take care of each other on a volunteer basis.

If you're not sure where to volunteer, Silicon Valley Strong has an online form to help connect you to local (Santa Clara County) organizations or agencies that need volunteers to help with this pandemic.

About PlaneTree Health Library

PlaneTree Health Library's mission is to guide the public to trustworthy, accurate, and free health and medical information. In operation since 1989, it is a free, public, patient and consumer health library and  501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It does not take advertisements; recommendations are independent of any commercial relationship.

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The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators / copyright holders.