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Friday, May 15, 2020

In This Edition:

I hope this finds you well.

The following is an op-ed I wrote that was published in today’s Mercury News:

When I envision our country and our community after we conquer COVID-19, I don’t think about a return to normalcy. I think about a far better future and how we, working together, will make it so.

Why, some may ask, should we talk about a post-pandemic vision when we don’t yet have a vaccine or even know how to reopen airlines and hotels?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the actions of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill — two of the greatest statesmen of the last century. In 1941, the Nazis and fascists were triumphant. No one had a plan to defeat them. Yet that year FDR and Churchill drafted the Atlantic Charter — a statement of their conception of a post-war world including self-determination of peoples and freedom from fear and want.

These tough-minded leaders proposed a vision because they realized that such hopes inspire people to perform the difficult tasks needed to accomplish major goals but also because they recognized their visualization of the peace would shape the way they waged the war.

We should learn from their example, lead and act.

Our experiences in fighting the coronavirus reveal both the strengths and weaknesses of the old normalcy and can guide us as we move forward. The most important of these lessons is that even when we are forced into strict isolation, it is our bonds to each other, our commitment to community that allows us to sustain ourselves and prevail. Our failure to reduce inequality has made the pandemic worse that it needed to be. Yet the steadfast reliability and courage of those we have overlooked and often underpaid – stock clerks, delivery drivers, janitors, cashiers, bus drivers, mail carriers – have enabled us to make social distancing work and prevent the collapse of our health care system.

From these experiences, I propose several components of a post-pandemic future:

• Affordable health care should be available to everyone, without exception, and working families require paid sick leave. This isn’t just an issue of justice; it’s a matter of self-preservation. Epidemics spread deeper and faster when people are unable to visit a doctor or clinic. We can debate the best model to achieve this, but the goal must be a bedrock of our future.

• The tragic cases of the virus decimating senior-care facilities starkly reveals what we should have recognized earlier. Many senior citizens cannot be cared for at home. They should not be relegated to an industry in which staff are often inexperienced, poorly trained and earning minimal compensation. In the worst cases, owners may sacrifice safety to maintain the bottom line. The public sector needs to begin to build its own high-quality skilled nursing facilities and assisted living residences where seniors can be secure, supported by personnel with superior training and career paths.

• Access to the internet isn’t a convenience; it’s a fundamental element of economic well-being, physical and mental health, and connection to information and public support in emergencies. We have the technical capability of bringing every household online. In our post-pandemic world, we must demonstrate the will to do so.

• Throughout the world, the reduction in driving has generated magnificent improvements in air quality. We should not allow a climate crisis to arrive just as a medical crisis has been overcome. By expanding mass transit (including techniques to maintain the health of riders and employees) and by continuing the trend to telecommuting, we can create conditions for substantially less traffic, many fewer weather emergencies, and much healthier lungs.

Successfully confronting the coronavirus is a struggle. It is a struggle not only for each of us individually, but a struggle for our institutions, our businesses, our government, our relationships, and our faith. By keeping sight of a just and constructive vision, we can take actions so that in the next crisis we will be better prepared. We can help ensure that these exhausting struggles will not have been in vain.
Dashboards Now Include ZIP Code Information
One of the things I am most proud of during the pandemic is how Santa Clara County has been a national leader in transparency with our digital dashboards. Now, the dashboards have been enhanced and include information about the number of COVID-19 cases in individual zip codes.

The dashboards now include information about clusters of cases at Long-Term Care Facilities. The location of LTCFs with COVID-19 clusters, and the total number of cases associated with each one, are displayed because these clusters can have a significant impact on the case rates for the zip code where they are located. The total cases reported for LTCFs include all residents and staff, regardless of zip code of residence.

You can view the dashboards by clicking on the link in red at the bottom of this newsletter.
The flags outside the County Government Center in San Jose are flying at half staff today as they have been every day since early April in honor of those we have lost to COVID-19.

However, the flags would be at half staff today even if the pandemic had not happened because it is Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Now more than ever, it is important to remember the tough job our peace officers, and all our first responders, have. They, along with our health care professionals and essential workers, are on the front lines every day as we battle COVID-19.

On Sunday, Veggielution, the nonprofit community farm based at San Jose’s Emma Prusch Farm Park, will hold Eastside Connect Digital, an online event on Facebook Live and Youtube beginning at 10 a.m.

Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro will be the master of ceremonies. A performance from local musicians Rhythm & Folk and a cooking demonstration from the chefs from San Jose’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Adega, are just two of the many offerings during the event.

More information about Eastside Connect Digital is here. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some or all of it.
Be well,
Santa Clara County COVID-19 Case Numbers, Hospital Capacity, and Testing Dashboards Can Be Found Here
Copyright © 2020 Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, All rights reserved.

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