Sweeping measures are unfolding across the globe in dealing with the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 187,000 and killed 7,400 people, including 111 in the U.S. The White House is now pushing for a huge stimulus package of $1 trillion to help bolster the economy as businesses, the stock exchange, services and governments buckle from the crisis. Changes are coming over the airwaves into the Pajaronian newsroom hourly. Macy’s stores have closed. The Statue of Liberty and casinos in Las Vegas have closed. The highly-attended South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals in Austin, Texas, which celebrate the convergence of the film and music industries, have been canceled.
Florida’s governor, meanwhile, has refused to close down state beaches that typically welcome thousands of students each year on their spring break. Medical officials are urging people to not gather in groups to help stop the spread of the virus.
As I walked over to Watsonville High this morning I saw paramedics with American Medical Response joined by Watsonville Fire dealing with a medical emergency on East Lake Avenue. One thing that stood out was firefighter/paramedic Drew Vojvoda wearing a protective apron, mask and goggles. The gear is being deployed by some emergency personnel when they deal with certain calls based on information gathered over the phone by 911 dispatchers regarding coronavirus.
My friend Zarko Radich, owner of Jack’s Cigars, sent me this amusing account: The other day he went to a CVS store at 7 a.m. As they were opening he noticed two ladies and a manager. Right away the manager approached him and said: “Sir, before you start shopping, I have to tell you we don’t have paper products—no toilet paper, no bottled water, no hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol.”
Radich told the manager he had come to buy cat food.
“He looked at me with wide-open eyes, and walked away.”
Governor Gavin Newsom is making sure California will act swiftly to help workers hurt by COVID-19. Affected workers can visit the Labor & Workforce Development Agency’s website to review what benefits are available to them. Those include:
• If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 you may qualify for Paid Family Leave (PFL).
• If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness, you may qualify for Disability Insurance. Those who have lost a job or have had their hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19 may be able to partially recover their wages by filing an unemployment insurance claim.
• If a worker or a family member is sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine, workers may use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with the law.
• If workers are unable to do their usual job because they were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of their work, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. All information and resources can be found at Labor.Ca.Gov/Coronavirus2019.
The first day of the 21-day shelter-in-place order from the county of Santa Cruz started off poorly for me and my wife: Our heater broke down. And, of course, it was very cold. I called PG&E and got a woman on the phone who carefully walked me through questions about the issue. She told me a technician would be out within the hour. PG&E sent Andy to our door inside of 30 minutes. He poked around our heater, cleaned some things, checked for leaks, relit the pilot, ran some tests and solved our problem. Then he checked our outdoor meter, replaced a vent part, painted the pipes and handed me a written report of the work he did. Andy was in and out of there inside of 40 minutes and professionally dealt with our problem, which seemed to have double the weight, in combo with the coronavirus issues at hand. Thank you, Andy.
Quote of the day: “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.” — Charles de Gaulle.