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SANTA CRUZ >> Santa Cruz County health officials announced two more cases of the coronavirus Monday morning, bringing the county’s total to nine.

More cases are expected. Lives continue to be disrupted by many closures and cancellations. Santa Cruz County public schools are closed this week. Families with children ages 1-18 can pick up meals and groceries at the schools.

We posted an episode Friday about the county’s testing capacity and tips on getting prepared, not scared. We also posted a short survey, asking what you want to know about the coronavirus. Several of you wrote to us, asking how you can get informed, find resources and help others. 

We created a coronavirus webpage with answers to your questions so far.

We’ll update that page frequently, with reputable sources of information, the latest numbers in our region and news on local testing. 

Our survey is still open and we want to hear from you. 

An update since our last episode

The county released updated guidelines Friday on limiting outings and exposure to other people. One big takeaway: People who are 60 or older or have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes should not attend gatherings of 10 or more people.

What we heard from you

Erika Check Hayden, UC Santa Cruz Science Communication program director, urged people to take self-quarantines and canceled events seriously.

I don’t think enough people realize that social distancing is the only tool we have right now to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,

Erika Check Hayden, UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program Director

“I don’t think enough people realize that social distancing is the only tool we have right now to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed, which is going to lead to death and suffering of the type we are seeing in Italy, where patients are dying due to shortages of medical equipment,” Check Hayden wrote. “This isn’t a question of ‘I’m young, I won’t die from this, so I can still go out to bars/schedule play dates for my kids,’ etc. When any of us gets the virus, we can spread it to others who are vulnerable, thus endangering their lives and worsening the epidemic.”

Robert Singleton, executive director of Santa Cruz County Business Council, wrote, “I have barely left my house for a couple of days out of a sense of social responsibility. I’m young and healthy, but many in our community are not. Shut up and stay home. Seriously, ‘shut up’ means don’t spread misinformation, in fact don’t say anything at all because there are plenty of reputable sources out there covering this issue accurately (SC Local), so why [are others] adding to the cacophony of information. ‘Stay Home’ is pretty self explanatory.” 

Cara Lamb, 75, is staying home. “Every event I meant to attend has been cancelled, and I’m staying home from the gym and pretty much anywhere else, though I still shop for groceries,” Lamb wrote.

Sharon Polak is trying to limit her outings. “I am a caregiver for my husband, so I have to run errands and go out into the community. I don’t see any way around it. I try to follow all CDC precautions,” Polak wrote.

We heard that you’re worried about people who need social services. You want to know how you can help. Pauline Seales, 75, retired teacher, said she’s concerned about poor people and kids who rely on free school lunches. Ken Kimes, 65, farmer, says he’s concerned about his livelihood now that farmers markets are being closed.

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Several of you want to encourage others to support local businesses. 

A reader told us to check out Bookshop Santa Cruz’s open letter about how to support local businesses while still practicing “social distancing.” 

Casey Coonerty Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz owner, listed some ideas:

  • Buy gift cards to local restaurants or stores to use when you can go out again.
  • Send care packages from local businesses to those in quarantine. 

We heard staying home has made some feel lonely and cut off. Travel plans have been cancelled, out of town guests have postponed their visits. Buz Roberts, a guitar teacher, 69, wrote, “Pickleball [is] cancelled (us old folks exercise of choice and social too).”

Dana Bagshaw, 76, a retiree, wrote, “I am cut off from my community. I got to go to Qi gong this week but now Louden Nelson is closed. I have even been asked not to come to church since I am over 60. I still ride the bus and went to plein air painting yesterday. Hope to go swimming at UCSC today.”

Santa Cruz County supervisors Zach Friend and Ryan Coonerty submitted an op-ed to us with several ideas on how people can help the community get through this time. 

  • Follow the guidelines set forth and updated daily on the county’s website. Guidelines for a variety of situations, including workplaces, large gatherings, skilled nursing facilities and more, are available. 
  • Practice the simple recommendations that we know are effective:  washing hands, social distancing, and frequent cleaning of surfaces
  • These recommendations mean that our senior and vulnerable populations will be increasingly isolated.  If you know seniors, check in on them from a distance. Offer food, supplies and friendship. 
  • One-third of our population lives in poverty.  Reduced hours at work and canceled school will have the biggest impact on this population.  We are grateful that schools will continue providing essential services even while closed. Please give to Second Harvest Food Bank to ensure that everyone in our community has food.

How else you can help

In our opinion, the biggest way you can help our community is to follow the county guidelines. Limit your outings. Stay home as much as possible. Don’t attend large gatherings. If you’re 60 or older, don’t attend gatherings of 10 people or more.

Beyond social distancing, we’ve posted more ideas for how you can help on our coronavirus webpage. There’s ideas on how you can help specific organizations that serve vulnerable people in our community. If you have time, money or goods, see our webpage for ideas on how you can help.

Bayview Elementary School in Santa Cruz will be closed for the next week. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local) 

Tell me some good news

Santa Cruz County public schools are closed through Friday. During the closure, schools will offer a “drive-thru” meal and groceries pickup. or all children ages 1-18 and their families. The service will be available at least through this week.

Pickup times and locations are listed here.

Have you heard of a creative way that people have helped the community get through this time? Submit it in our short survey and we’ll share it with the community.

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Kara Meyberg Guzman is the CEO and co-founder of Santa Cruz Local. ​Prior to Santa Cruz Local, she served as the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s managing editor. She has a biology degree from Stanford University and lives in Santa Cruz.

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