U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier hosted her third telephone town hall meeting in three weeks today to address the COVID-19 pandemic, calling on residents to abide by the shelter-in-place order to do what they can to stop the spread of the virus.
Speier was joined by San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy and University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospitals President Michael Anderson. Together, they provided updates and responded to questions from constituents.
Speier and Callagy said the most important thing residents can do is stay at home — and stay in their neighborhood. Speier specifically told people not to go to the coast, and Callagy agreed.
“There's overcapacity in small towns,” Callagy said. “Their food supply is depleted.”
Callagy provided an update on the latest numbers from San Mateo County: 165 confirmed cases and five deaths, four of which came in the last 24 hours.
Speier touted the House bill going to a vote this week, which would compel the IRS to send $1,500 to anyone making $75,000 or less based on their 2019 or 2018 taxes, with additional money for those with kids. Seniors reliant on Social Security, gig workers and self-employed and unemployed people would also be eligible for additional cash.
“As you can see, this package of $2 trillion is coming directly to people in our community,” Speier said.
Callagy said county efforts include an ongoing emergency crisis center and hotline. He also spoke of new efforts to secure alternative care sites, like hotels and motels to house health care workers, those in need of space to quarantine and the homeless. He noted the launch of the San Mateo County Strong fund, asking for donations to support local nonprofits, residents and businesses during the pandemic and called for donations of medical supplies as well. He also asked residents not to over-stock on groceries.
“I just want to assure everyone, the food supply is fine,” Callagy said. “We are creating a problem for ourselves.”
Anderson provided information and answered questions related to symptoms and testing. He said when it comes to figuring out what to do about a lack of beds and ventilators, securing staff, supply and space is critical.
“We’ve got to be creative at this time,” Anderson said.
Speier said she is urging President Donald Trump to move forward with the Defense Production Act to ask companies to produce more ventilators and other medical supplies during the pandemic. In response to concerns about Trump's suggestion that businesses can open and shelter-in-place orders can be lifted by Easter, Speier said she’d suggest the opposite. She called for a two-week shelter in place nationwide.
“I can assure you that the president is not controlling this right now,” Speier said. “The governors are controlling it. And I cannot imagine that Gov. Newsom would comply with that.”
Speier encouraged everyone to do their part to shelter in place, adding that in California, half of those who tested positive were between 18 and 45 and one third were asymptomatic.
“The surge, the peak, is about three weeks away,” Speier said. “... We are not out of the woods.”