The Valley is bracing as Covid-19, the coronavirus, continues to spread across the country. Of particular concern, California is now seeing an increase in people diagnosed with the respiratory virus that first swept through southern China at the start of the year.
Over the past several days, a building was closed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory due to the virus, and a Pleasanton family was under self-quarantine. Up in Oakland, a cruise ship was allowed to berth with known cases of coronavirus infections among the 3,000 people aboard, all of whom are expected to be sent to quarantine for two weeks.
Events across the Valley are being cancelled or postponed in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
Cities Are Keeping a Close Watch
Following Alameda County’s declaration of emergency, Livermore’s Emergency Operations Center has gone to a Level 3 monitoring activation. Level 3 is the lowest of three levels of emergency operations, with Level 1 being reserved for large-scale disasters, said Livermore Mayor John Marchand.
The center is currently being run by the City’s Emergency Manager Herbert Cole and the Deputy City Manager Christine Martin, he said.
At Level 3, Marchand said the center is being used as a central location for staying current on the rapidly evolving situation and coordinating efforts among city departments and outside agencies, including the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
In addition, the city is posting on its website and social media updates and links to resources related to the spread of the virus and containment efforts.
Pleasanton city management has been meeting to stay informed about the threat, but as of early this week, it has not recommended cancellation of any events or activity, said public information officer Cindy Chin.
Dublin cancelled its annual two-day St. Patrick’s Day celebration set for March 14-15. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and related events such as contests and performances have drawn as many as 80,000 people. It is the biggest suburban St. Patrick’s Day fair outside of San Francisco.
Schools Plan for Infections, Remote Teaching
Administrators at the Pleasanton Unified, Livermore Joint Valley Unified and Dublin Unified school districts were monitoring the local situation surrounding COVID-19. Through Tuesday, all schools remained open. Each district said it was consulting with the Alameda County Public Health Department, which would advise whether to close campuses or cancel large gatherings.
In a statement on the Dublin district’s website, Superintendent Dave Marken said that if one student or staff member tests positive for the virus, officials would close that affected school for one to 14 days, depending on the risk. If that student or staff member has a sibling or child in another school in the district, that school also would be closed.
All Dublin teachers were asked to create two-week lesson plans for students to take home if schools were shut down.
In the Livermore district, Superintendent Kelly Bowers said officials were taking precautions, including “heightened custodial cleaning protocols, adjustments to cafeteria salad bars, and teacher-led handwashing and hand sanitizing instruction throughout the school day.”
“While we currently are not being advised to close or alter school schedules at this time, we are preparing for the potential impact that this virus may have in our district, and we are planning for steps to limit and slow the spread of virus in our schools,” Bowers said in a statement.
In the Pleasanton district, a family member of a student at Valley View Elementary School was informed that they may have come into contact with a presumptive, but unconfirmed, case of coronavirus at work. The student and family decided to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, which is the recommended period for self-quarantine.
District staff disinfected surfaces at the school. As a precaution, the other students in the classroom were moved to a different classroom for the remainder of the school day to allow cleaning and disinfecting their classroom.
Pleasanton school officials said some parents have asked about keeping their children home, despite the fact there were no local cases.
“While we believe that school is often the safest place for students during a crisis like this, we would not inhibit your ability to do what you feel is in your child’s best interest,” Superintendent David Haglund wrote in a statement. “Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home.”
The three K-12 school districts will be closed for Spring Break from April 6-10. The Centers for Disease Control has advised that anyone traveling internationally during Spring Break should read its website for information. So far, the CDC has mandated that anyone traveling to a country with a widespread problem to stay home for 14 days. Those countries so far include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
The Chabot-Los Positas Community College District, which operates two campuses with some 29,000 students and 2,000 faculty members, was operating normally.
Spokeswoman Gusselle Nunez said officials were constantly monitoring the situation, but so far there were no plans for closures. Spring Break begins March 23.
LLNL Disinfects Building
At LLNL, 25 employees were sent home March 5 after an employee who reported some symptoms consistent with the coronavirus was sent home.
The building where they worked was scrubbed down, and most of the employees sent home are able to telecommute to do their work, said lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver.
Since then, the original employee was tested and found not to have the coronavirus. Seaver said the lab will continue to be vigilant. Its advice to employees is to stay home if they are not feeling well. Top lab management and a team of pandemic experts at the lab will meet March 13 to discuss the situation, she added.
Events Cancelled or Postponed as a Pre-caution
Cancellations of other events in the Valley include a major annual fund-raiser for the Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies organization, which raises money for people to obtain grants for natural healing methods for cancer.
The group’s website says a future date for the event will be determined. Their site is at https://www.healingtherapiesfoundation.org/.
The Women Entrepreneurs Launch (WELA) conference for March 30 in Redwood City has been postponed. The decision was made by Google, which owns a conference center in Redwood City, after discussion between Google and WELA. Another date for the conference will be announced when that is feasible, said a WELA spokeswoman.
Museum on Main in Pleasanton has cancelled its Celebrate Community Family- Uyghur Nowruz Family Day, which was planned for March 21. The event will be rescheduled later this year. As of now, museum events in late March and April are still scheduled, but may be cancelled.
The museum will remain open, but all interactive exhibits have been removed from the galleries to limit the potential spread of the virus.
The Pleasanton Downtown Association has cancelled the St. Patrick’s Day Brew Crawl scheduled for this weekend, Saturday, March 14th.
Livermore Valley Wine Country’s Barrel Tasting Weekend is currently scheduled for March 21-22 at more than 30 wineries across the region. The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association is monitoring the coronavirus situation, and if the event’s status changes, media outlets will be notified, said spokeswoman Tami Kelly. The public can reference the association’s web page at https://www.lvwine.org/ for information that is up to date at that time.
Some wineries have events centers that host wedding receptions and other events. The public should contact them directly if there is a question about whether events will be cancelled, said Kelly.