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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.

California state is a mix of densely-populated urban centers and extensive rural areas, making it difficult to set one-size-fits-all policies. Statewide Orders are the minimum requirements for all of California, but local governments can make more restrictive Orders when needed to protect their county or city. The state maintains a County Variance watchlist for counties whose metrics ( the numbers of new cases  & other measures) are worrisome. As of this writing, all of the Bay Area counties and most of Southern California are on the watchlist. If a county is on that list for 3 or more consecutive days, unless they have specific permission from the state, it must close:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars, wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters 
  • Family entertainment centers (for examples: bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums (indoor areas)
  • Cardrooms
  • and some beach parking lots

for at least 3 weeks. Also, these must be shut down unless they can happen outdoors (or by curbside pick-up):

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

For more details on the Resilience Roadmap for California and the state'sCounty Variance monitoring watchlist, see the section for  Longer-Term Strategies for Reopening California on the Slowing the Spread of Coronavirus page.

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 don't have health insurance at present, or are going to lose it because you lost a job, you can sign up for it through Covered California (via the Affordable Care Act) though June 2020.

Recent California state orders and national legislation have declared that testing for the coronavirus should be at no cost to the patient. However, that applies only to the test, and only if your health care team has decided that you need to be tested (many people are not). For more information about 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 the care and help that you need!

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 and kids.

Food Banks offer free food baskets and other food assistance. Call 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. Starting April 2, a few locations in the county will also distribute weekend grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches on Thursdays to help cover the weekends. San José Unified School District distributes free meals to anyone at 33 school locations Mondays - Fridays.

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 through a program that's funded through June 2020; 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). The state-wide economic support initiative announced by the Governor on April 15, includes financial assistance for undocumented Californians as well as other vulnerable populations.


Housing relief:

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. 

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. On June 1 the state authorized local governments to extend this moratorium through September 2020 but as of this writing, in Santa Clara County and in San José the moratorium ends on August 31, 2020.

Homeowners - including landlords - may 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 until September 30, 2020.

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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