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This is the fifty-first COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are usually sent on Thursdays.
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PURPLE TIER (Jan. 25 order updated Feb. 8)
Dear members:

Lots of good news from the State and Santa Clara County this week.  Relief packages are on the way, vaccine eligibility is expanding, and programs benefiting businesses and artists are available.

In case you missed the SJDA public meeting last week that included the Downtown safety report and other important news, you can view a recording on Facebook or YouTube.  Speaking of cleaning and safety, our Groundwerx team and ambassadors are ready to help when needed. Download the app for iPhone or Android or call 408-287-1520 for service.

State relief is on its way 
State government announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on a package of immediate actions that will speed needed relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship from the COVID-19 Recession.

The state will provide cash relief to lower-income Californians, increase aid to small businesses and provide license renewal fee waivers to businesses impacted by the pandemic. 

In addition to these measures, the agreement provides tax relief for businesses, commits additional resources for critical child care services and funds emergency financial aid for community college students.

“We’re nearly a year into this pandemic, and millions of Californians continue to feel the impact on their wallets and bottom lines," Gov. Newsom said.

Key provisions of the Immediate Action Agreement

Direct Relief to Individuals and Families:

The agreement incorporates the Governor’s Golden State Stimulus plan to assist California households that have borne the disproportionate economic burden of the COVID-19 Recession – those with incomes below $30,000, as well as those unfairly excluded from previous federal stimulus payments.

Households receiving the California EITC for 2020 as well as income qualified taxpayers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN’s) will receive one-time relief payments shortly after filing their 2020 tax returns.

More relief will be directed to lower-income Californians through one-time grants to households enrolled in the CalWORKS program and recipients of SSI/SSP and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI). 

Combined, the agreement represents a total of $5.7 million payments to low-income Californians.

Immediate Relief for Small Businesses Quadrupled:
The agreement reflects a four-fold increase – from $500 million to more than $2 billion – for grants up to $25,000 for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and also allocates $50 million for cultural institutions.

The agreement also partially conforms California tax law to new federal tax treatment for loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Plan. 

Fee Waivers for Most Impacted Licensees:
The agreement provides for two years of fee relief for roughly 59,000 restaurants and bars licensed through the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The agreement also reflects fee relief for more than 600,000 barbering and cosmetology individuals and businesses licensed through the Department of Consumer Affairs.


Here's the press release.

Headed to the Red Tier
Also, the Mercury News reported that Santa Clara County is among the state's top counties in reducing the number of cases, which could mean we are headed towards the Red Tier.  

Here's the Merc's report.

Good news on the vaccine front, too
We also have some promising news on the vaccine front, especially for our downtown food workers. Adding to the current eligibility of 65+ and healthcare workers, those in education and childcare, food and agriculture, and emergency services, as well as high-risk individuals with severe health conditions will be eligible for the vaccine in the coming month.

The goal to have 85% of the residents of Santa Clara County vaccinated by summer will be key to returning to activities and business levels we have missed in the last year.  Information below on how to get your staff, friends, family and self registered for vaccines. 

Beginning Feb. 28, healthcare providers in Santa Clara County will expand COVID-19 vaccination to workers in the following industries: education and childcare, food and agriculture, and emergency services.

More information here.

Also, starting March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgment to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the following severe health conditions:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%
  • More information here.

County Passes Vaccination Milestone: The County of Santa Clara announced that more than half of county residents age 75 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccine data also show that, as of Feb. 14, 43.7% of county residents age 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 232,761 total residents now partially or fully vaccinated. 

The data reflects progress toward the County’s goal of vaccinating at least 85% of residents age 16 or older by Aug. 1. The data also shows the ongoing need to focus vaccination efforts on ensuring equitable access for those at greatest risk of serious illness and death, and those at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

As of Feb. 4, any Santa Clara County resident age 65 or older can receive their free COVID-19 vaccine from the County Health System, regardless of their healthcare provider or insurance. To learn more about eligibility for vaccines and request a vaccination appointment, visit sccfreevax.org.

COVID-19 Financial Update

File claim with your business insurance by March 16
Small businesses are urged to file insurance claims for potential losses caused by the mandated pandemic closures that began with Gov. Newsom's shutdown order last March.  With a statute-of-limitations deadline approaching, it is important businesses make the claim with their insurance carriers to reserve standing for a potential settlement as the issue winds through the court system.  

At a press conference last week, attorney Paul Caputo of Caputo & Van der Walde, LLP, said that small businesses with basic insurance policies should file a claim for business interruption as a result of the pandemic (not because of the coronavirus).  Claims need to be filed by March 16.  That portion of the press conference begins at about the 8-minute mark and can be viewed at SJDA’s Facebook

Artist Fellowship Program: $10,000 for LatinX artists in the Bay Area
Application due March 1; Webinar tonight at 6 p.m.

MACLA / Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, is launching the "Cultura Power Fellowship" for 2021. MACLA will support 10 Bay Area-based Latinx artists who are actively working to advance a more just and equitable society through their artmaking practices, prioritizing Latinx artists whose work intersects environmental, racial, and social justice. 

Afro-Latinx, LGBTQI+ artists living in Santa Clara County will be prioritized, but applications from the surrounding Bay Area counties (Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo) will also be accepted. 

At least three artists selected will have an active practice that intersects art and technology, including new media art forms - augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), computer animation, gaming, interactive computer installations, digital graffiti -- which will provide my program, MACLA Studio, with all kinds of cool opportunities to collaborate!

Ten fellows will receive $10K over the six-month period March – August 2021. In addition, MACLA will offer 20 Latinx artists a $500 award to create new work and their work will be featured on MACLA’s social media platforms during the upcoming year.  

Deadline to apply is March 1, 2021.

Informational webinar with MACLA's Curator and Public Programs Manager, Maryela Perez, today at 6 pm. Register here.

Paycheck Protection Program – March 31 is last day for approval
A second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding is now available to small businesses, and the last day to get approved for a PPP loan is March 31. 

Here’s a play book that summarizes best practices, resources, and learnings from organizing 200+ PPP outreach events at the Small Business Administration.  

Create a Safe Online Sales Presence - Free Webinar Feb. 25, 3:30 p.m.
Small Businesses can learn how to sell to new and current customers online, to help your business survive and possibly grow during the pandemic. The City of San Jose and Cybertrust America focused on how to create an online store with secure payment options, cybersecurity, risk management, data privacy, and security compliance. You and your customers will feel safe doing business online. Cybertrust America will also talk about resources to help you set up faster and more affordably. Registration is encouraged for this workshop at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.

More news

Public invited to comment today on Urban Confluence Silicon Valley landmark in San Jose
Today, Feb. 18 | 5-6 p.m. | Register

Urban Confluence Silicon Valley invites the public to discuss an iconic landmark at Arena Green at Guadalupe River Park and Gardens. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear plans, provide feedback, and ask questions about the three finalists’ designs being considered. The finalists’ videos, submittals, and 2-hour presentations can be viewed here

All public comments will be shared with the competition jury. The jury will deliberate privately and rank the three finalists on March 6. 

Parking Enforcement Resumes for Posted Restriction Violations
The City’s enforcement of "No Parking" restrictions during posted times and "No Overnight Parking" restrictions will resume March 1. They were temporarily suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking and Traffic Control Officers will begin enforcing these parking restrictions, including issuing citations to vehicles parked during restricted times.

Sign Ordinance Update Phase II: Billboards and Off-Site Advertising on Private Property
The public is invited to respond to a short online survey about allowing electronic signage on privately owned buildings downtown, privately-owned freeway-facing property and the public right of way downtown (wayfinding kiosks, newspaper racks, public toilets, etc). The survey takes approximately 5-7 minutes to complete and your responses will remain anonymous.

This digital billboard survey is available through March 12, 5 p.m. here:  English, Spanish, Vietnamese.  Results of the survey will post to this webpage.

The proposed project would amend the City's sign ordinance, allowing:

  1. Free-standing digital billboard structures on freeway-facing non-City-owned sites in exchange for removal of static billboards, at a possible ratio of four static billboards removed for one new digital billboard.
  2. Building-mounted signs displaying off-site commercial content on certain non-City owned sites within the Downtown Sign Intensification Zone;
  3. Exploration of signage on public right-of-way to allow off-site commercial advertising along public amenities, street furniture, and transit facilities; and
  4. Evaluation of illumination parameters for illuminated and programmable signs.

This ordinance would be amended for citywide use.

State of the County on Feb. 22
Please join Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, for the virtual State of the County Address on Monday, Feb. 22, 2-2:30 p.m. Wasserman will talk about the county’s past year and the year ahead. The State of the County will be livestreamed on the County’s SCCgov chambers YouTube channel, and available to watch any time after that date. 

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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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