Local Congressional Reps hold telephone town hall on COVID-19

With West Valley residents searching for clear information from elected leaders about the novel coronavirus, a number of Members of Congress representing Santa Clara County joined forces to reach out directly.

Congressmembers Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) held a telephone town hall on Tuesday evening for residents to ask questions and hear about the response to COVID-19 at a federal and local level.

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer, who has been leading response efforts in the County, also joined the call and answered a number of questions and concerns from callers.

To listen to the telephone town hall in full, click here.

Representatives note the need for action

Congresswoman Eshoo noted that the need for continued federal action is clear, particularly as we near the end of the month.

“We all know that april 1st is fast approaching. People have to pay their mortgage or their rents. People have to pay their student loans. They have to make their car payment.”

Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed into law, two legislative packages aimed at supporting scientific research and providing funds for immediate response. A third package, costing around $2 Trillion, which would likely include direct payments to Americans and massive grants and loans for businesses flailing because of the crisis, was awaiting a vote in the Senate as of Wednesday afternoon.

Questions on the shelter-at-home order

A number of questions from callers wondered about what activities the stay-at-home order, which Dr. Cody and other Bay Area health officers ordered early last week, allows.

Dr. Cody, noting that the situation is “absolutely unprecedented,” called on residents to do their part and stay home whenever possible.

“We need every single person living in the community to do their part to slow the disease,” Cody said.

How long the order might stay in place remains unclear, despite implications from the White House otherwise.

“We believe that [the shelter-at-home order] is slowing the infection,” Dr. Cody continued, while acknowledging the lack of adequate testing is causing a significant challenge in understanding how well the efforts are working.

“I feel very strongly that we need to continue these broad mitigation measures and social distancing until such time as either have other more precise tools to slow down the spread or until such time as there is enough of the population that is immune from natural infection,” Cody said when asked about the potential duration of the measures.

As of Wednesday, Santa Clara County had 459 COVID-19 cases, up 84 from the day before, and 17 deaths, an increase of one from Tuesday.