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This is the thirty-sixth COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are sent on Thursdays.
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To our valued businesses:
 
Sorry to report that the number of Covid-19 cases in Santa Clara County is on the climb.  Eleven California counties this week went into reverse, including Contra Costa and Santa Cruz counties, and slipped back up the charts to red (substantial).  The Beach Boardwalk had to close again after just announcing its reopening.
 
Sacramento, San Diego and Stanislaus counties went from red to purple (widespread and the highest risk).  In yellow (minimal risk) San Francisco, restaurants tried to head off a downgrade to orange (moderate) by closing indoor dining.  Marin, other parts of the U.S. and Europe are closing down its indoor dining seating.
 
At Monday’s  press conference, Dr. Sarah Cody blamed the surge on Halloween parties and fatigue by people tired of all the protocols and safety measures.  She did not mention the election.
 
“What we do every day really matters,” Cody said.  “Our health and the economy are inextricably linked.”
The news is not all bad.  Topping the news, Pfizer has a potential vaccine and others are closing in on their vaccines.  On CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the average American could potentially have access to a vaccine from coronavirus by April.  We’re getting close to heading down the home stretch with this thing.
When asked at Monday’s press conference what businesses can do to help prevent the spread, Dr. Cody said businesses should focus on education and operations – following the protocols to operate safely.  She also encouraged customers and employees to register complaints.  She said that 1,850 complaints have been registered with the county, leading to 79 notices of violations and $600,000 in fines that the county is actively collecting.
 
Her final thought on the question was positive:  “The vast majority are doing a fantastic job.”
 
That may be a key reason our county has not been downgraded  yet.  More than ever, we must remain vigilant and trust the protocols.

In this email:
COVID Updates
This week’s Santa Clara County Press Release
A sharp uptick in reported COVID-19 cases on Sunday and in recent days indicates community spread of the virus has increased, and County of Santa Clara officials are urging the public to adhere to social distancing, use of face coverings, and other safety measures to help keep the community healthy and the County in its current “moderate” risk-level categorization.
 
There were 358 new COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday, which is second only to the record 385 new cases reported on July 15. Nearly all these cases are from test samples collected in the past week, about half in the past three days. The seven-day average of new cases last week was between 131 and 139, accelerating after a slow climb that started in mid-October. In addition, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday went up by nearly 10 percent.
 
“This surge in COVID-19 cases is not what we want to see going into the fall and winter holiday season,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara. “New cases and resulting hospitalizations are increasing locally, regionally, as well as statewide and across the country and the world. These trends serve as a stark reminder that COVID-19 is all around us. Each and every one of us needs to redouble our efforts to keep our community safe.”
Cooler temperatures and inclement weather that come with fall and winter mean people will be inclined to engage in more indoor activities, which are riskier than outdoor activities.  Indoor dining, gathering in private homes with people outside of one’s household, and becoming complacent with “pandemic fatigue,” all elevate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
 
Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said it is imperative that both the community and businesses that are enjoying increased opportunities since the County moved into the state’s orange tier on October 13 be especially vigilant about adherence to mandatory social distancing protocols.
“Everyone appreciates the additional options that come from being in a less-restrictive tier,” Chavez said. “But we all need to be mindful that being in that tier doesn’t mean some activities do not come with certain risk, and that risk is greatly magnified if businesses and customers do not follow the rules in place to help keep them safe.”
 
Before you visit any business, it is important to know their commitment to COVID-19 Safety Protocols. Every business in the County is required to have a revised Social Distancing Protocol on file with the County and the public is encouraged to review this in advance at hereRead more.
 
Winterizing Al Fresco program
To support small businesses, the City Council has amended the original Al Fresco emergency order:
 
Recommendations passed per the staff memo:
  • requiring safety barriers for outdoor operations on private property, 
  • extending permissible outdoor business hours for private property and sidewalk operations in the Downtown Core until midnight, 
  • allowing for additional equipment to be utilized for cold weather operations; and 
  • allowing businesses to apply for permits to erect tents or canopies larger than those allowed under the current regulations and/or to apply for permits to erect structures.
  • extending the order for Al Fresco activities on private property, sidewalks, street business areas, parklets and public parking until June 30, 2021,
  • extending Al Fresco activities on parks and plazas until March 31.
Based on news of the week, outdoor will be the dining preference for some time to come.  Be sure to suggest to your patrons that outdoor dining occurs year-round in Europe and other colder places.  Recommend that customers acquire proper winter clothing that help a person feel comfortable outside in temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Newly passed winterization regulations allow heaters to be placed on sidewalks for outdoor retail.  Heaters were already allowed on private property, street areas and parklets.
 
Also to keep businesses prospering during colder weather:
  • Tents over 400 square feet and canopies over 700 square feet will be allowed on private property and public sidewalks with a separate permit from the City of San Jose;
  • Tents over 400 square feet and canopies over 700 square feet will be allowed on parklets and street business areas with a separate permit from the Fire Department. For structures, these businesses must obtain a permit from The Public Works Department. 
The city will cover costs of inspection at least through early December.  To keep up with Al Fresco order, go here.
New report:  early infections caused by indoor operations
Results of a new test reported in Wednesday’s New York Times may prompt more areas to shut down indoor operations.
 
The Nature research report suggests that 80 percent of the early infections leading to pandemic were the result of restaurants, gyms, cafes and other crowded indoor operations.
 
This is not what businesses want to hear as we head into colder weather, when people will want to stay indoors.
 
Santa Clara County planning to prepare for coronavirus vaccines
Update on Local Planning Related to COVID-19 Vaccine
On. Nov. 3, Dr. Cody outlined the different roles of federal, state, and local government related to vaccine development and deployment. In addition to the FDA’s role of reviewing, approving, and regulating new vaccines, the federal government—through the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AICP)—also develops recommendations on the use of vaccines, including prioritizing groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine if supplies are limited.  
The State of California has established two new state policy committees related to vaccine planning.  The first is the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which will provide independent review of the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that receives FDA approval. 
The second, the COVID-19 Drafting Guidelines Workgroup, will provide more granular guidance for the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine based on the general direction provided by AICP and factoring in California’s specific needs. The state will receive vaccine allocations from the federal government, which they will then distribute to local health departments and other entities. The County’s role locally will be to ensure our vaccine allocation can be rapidly deployed to reach priority populations as determined by the federal AICP and the State Workgroup.
 
Dr. Cody discussed the vaccine candidates that are in Phase III trials.  Each of the potential vaccines is quite different, from the refrigeration requirements (some need a -70°C freezer) to the dosing requirements (most of the potential vaccines would require 2 separate doses taken 21 or 28 days apart).  The two candidates that appear to be furthest along, Pfizer and Moderna, are not expected to apply for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA until late November or after.
 
Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the County’s COVID-19 Testing Officer, explained that, while we are not responsible for vaccine development or use recommendations, the County does play a crucial role in logistics planning and distribution.  Dr. Fenstersheib observed there is a great deal we do not know.  We don’t know which vaccine(s) will be approved, when that might occur, or what the storage and handling requirements, dosing requirements, and efficacy of the vaccine will be. We have to be prepared for all the different possibilities. With this in mind, we are assessing our own capacity and the capacity of our community partners to receive, store, and transport different potential versions of the vaccine.  We are also working to ensure we have the necessary equipment and staffing in place to effectively and rapidly distribute the vaccine under various scenarios.  Dr. Fenstersheib indicated that an effective vaccine program will require close collaboration with community partners and health providers.  Engagement with these partners is underway and will be expanded. Equity considerations related to vaccine deployment are also critical.  We will need to be proactive and thoughtful to ensure the vaccine is accessible to our most impacted and hardest to reach communities.  Finally, Dr. Fenstersheib noted that, at first, the amount of vaccine we expect to receive will be very limited.  Even if an effective vaccine were to arrive, it will take time to acquire and deploy the necessary quantities to provide broad protection for the community.  Thus, the need to be vigilant with our risk reduction practices will continue for some time.
 
You can view the full presentation here.  The item begins at 4:47:00.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates definition of “close contact”
According to the New York Times:

“ ‘Close contact’ had been defined as 15 continuous minutes or more within six feet of an infectious individual, whether or not either person wore a mask and regardless of whether the contact occurred indoors or outside, though the CDC says those are important factors that affect transmission.

“The new definition: 15 minutes or more of cumulative exposure to infectious individuals, within six feet, in a 24-hour period — such as three five-minute exposures — still regardless of masking and whether the contact was inside or outdoors.”

County Testing Locations
The community testing program operated by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) continues to offer drop-in and appointment-based COVID-19 testing at several locations across the county.  The testing hours for our Fairgrounds site have expanded slightly to 11:30am to 6:15pm weekdays and Saturdays from 9am-3pm.
 
In addition to the Fairgrounds and our usual drop-in testing locations, SCVMC continues its rotating, appointment-based testing events in various local cities. Residents can book an appointment for the Fairgrounds or the city sites in VietnameseChineseSpanish, or EnglishVisit here for additional information. 
Other Matters
Save the Date - SJDA Year-in-Review Meeting - Dec. 11, 8:15 a.m.
SJDA’s annual year-in-review presentation will be presented virtually this year on Dec. 11, starting at 8:15 a.m. The December SJDA meeting will also include the Golden Nail presentation and a farewell to SJDA and PBID Board of Directors members reaching the end of their terms.  Register here.
Be a part of Shop Small Downtown
SJDA plans to encourage its audiences to Shop Small Downtown – not just Saturday, Nov. 28, but the entire holiday season.  We’ll remind our customers that the storefront economy is critical to downtown’s long-term viability. If you’d like to participate in the Shop Small Downtown program, please email Jessica Vuong at jvuong@sjdowntown.com.  We’ll have more information in the coming weeks.
Light the Holiday Nights Nov. 26 - Jan. 3
SJDA and downtown property owners have agreed to light Plaza de Cesar Chavez this holiday season.  Light the Holiday Lights begins Nov. 26 and continues through Jan. 3.  It is meant to be a passive, festive light experience aimed at brightening the evening of anyone passing through the Plaza Park area of downtown.
 
A 26-foot-tall Christmas Tree perched atop the stage on the north end of the park will be the primary feature.  Park trees, entrance arches and other surprise lighting features will be lit daily after sundown.

Visitors are expected to wear their masks and make sure they are properly socially distanced of six feet or more from other parties. Large families should break up into smaller groups to avoid blocking pathways and to keep the experience safe for everyone.

Covid-19 forced Downtown Ice and Winter Wonderland to cancel this season, and Christmas in the Park has moved out of downtown this season to create a paid holiday experience in History Park outside of downtown.

Holiday Market on Dec. 4, 11 and 18: 
SJDA and Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association have put together the best of the Farmers’ Market and the best of the Friday artisan market to create a Holiday Market, open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18.  Find artisans selling jewelry, candles, lotions, gift baskets, holiday cards, plants and other gifts for the holidays.

Also, the Moment shops lining San Pedro Street – Aulala Design, BlackSheepMade, The SJMADE Shop and The Source Zero  -- will feature an array of the best gifts available from SJMADE artists/entrepreneurs. 
San José to Forgive Parking Ticket Late Fees
The San José Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a parking delinquency fee amnesty program, in part to alleviate some of the financial stress of the pandemic.  For any vehicle owner who received a parking citation on or before March 19, 2020, DOT is granting amnesty for all delinquent fees (aka late charges).  Vehicle owners will only need to pay the original fine amount, if paid by Dec. 31, 2020. Learn more about the program online or contact the Office of Parking Violations at 800-294-8258.
 
Urban Confluence iconic tower – informational webinars scheduled  
Urban Confluence will review its great progress during the last three years and explain plans for the next 6 months—including choosing the competition winner.
Time to consider getting an influenza vaccine
The County offers free influenza vaccines every Saturday at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds from 9 am to 4 pm throughout the fall. Flu shots will be available across the street from the COVID-19 testing site also in operation every Saturday. The car entrance for general parking is Gate D, 2542 Monterey Road.

In addition to the Fairgrounds, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center also offers free flu shots at several flu clinics and fairs around the county.
Final week of Dine Downtown
Thanks to our 21 Dine Downtown participating restaurants offering chef specials, three-course price-fixed dinners and food and drink pairings.  The six-week and seven-weekends-long Dine Downtown concludes Sunday, Nov. 15. Restaurant specials and listings of all open restaurants are here. If your dining establishment, café or coffee shop wants to get in on the action, contact SJDA Marketing Director Julie Carlson (jcarlson@sjdowntown.com).
Free PPE Available for San Jose Non-profits: San Jose-based nonprofit organizations or nonprofits that serve San José residents can now request free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) directly from the Valley Medical Center Foundation through a partnership with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits and the City of San Jose. To request PPE, organizations must complete this survey. The survey can also be found through the VMC Foundation’s COVID-19 page.
 
Fresh and healthful foods available through relief program
Off the Grid has partnered with the City of San Jose to launch San Jose COVID Food Relief Program. This is a temporary food program that delivers groceries once per week that includes fresh produce, whole grains, and nutritious sources of protein or meals to high-risk individuals for COVID-19, or those who have faced economic hardships due to COVID-19. The program is free and available for qualified participants until Dec. 30. Click here for more info, or check their Instagram.
Surveys
Reimagining the Civic Commons: San Jose Neighborhood Survey produced by SJSU urban planning graduate students in partnership with the Knight Foundation, CommUniverCity, The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and SPUR.

How do public spaces improve your neighborhood and city, with a focus on Guadalupe River Park
COVID-19 Links
Orange Tier Guidance
Santa Clara County entered the Orange Tier of the State’s COVID-19 framework on Oct. 14.  In this fourth week of Orange, we seem to be holding the status quo:  Revised Risk Reduction Order; Summary of what the changes mean in San José ; Order itself; Executive Summary.
More Local Resources for Businesses
If you are a business or property owner reaching out about vandalism, theft or property damage, you can submit an online police report here.

To report graffiti and things that need to be cleaned within the district, use the Groundwerx Everywhere app for iPhones or Android.
To report damage, graffiti or things that need to be cleaned in city parks/property or outside the district, use the San Jose 311 app for iPhone, visit sanjose.custhelp.com or call 311.

Businesses who would like a free graffiti removal tool kit can send an email to antigraffiti@sanjoseca.gov with their contact information and an address. A kit will be delivered to your place of business. 

SJDA staff can help.  Our list of staff and emails are here.
Let us know how else we can help by replying to this email. We’ll have another message next Thursday. We're in this together.
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