With everything happening with the coronavirus pandemic, we at BenitoLink want to provide a roundup of recent articles, as well as closures and cancellations happening in San Benito County.
As of 4:30 p.m. on March 23, there are six confirmed cases in San Benito County since February, only two of which are active. One death was reported last week.
Closures and Limited Services
-County Express public transit is only operating dial-a-ride services Monday to Friday, essential trips only. Rides are free through April 7.
-All Gavilan College campuses are now closed to staff, students and the public. All instruction and services have been transitioned to an online format.
-San Benito County office hours have been adjusted in response to COVID-19. See BenitoLink article
-Gov. Gavin Newsom closed all state parks and beaches on Mach 23 until further notice.
-Congressman Jimmy Panetta led a bipartisan group of 27 lawmakers in sending a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting targeted assistance for the specialty crop industry in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a March 23 release, the members are requesting:
- Regulatory flexibility to implement the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act under the circumstances of this emergency;
- A commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for federal nutrition programs;
- Direct support to specialty crop producers whose customers are now unable to fulfill their previous purchase commitments due to the current crisis;
- Speedy implementation of the recovery and stability plan submitted by the specialty crop industry in response to the coronavirus emergency.
- Use of all resources at USDA’s discretion, including carryover funds from the previous fiscal year, to address the immediate needs of the specialty crop industry.
“As you work to continue mitigating the impacts of this emergency on our nation’s agriculture industry, we ask that you include targeted relief for the specialty crop industry,” the members wrote. “Such relief will not only help producers who are facing significant financial challenges but also support efforts to provide food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
Full text of the letter here.
-Panetta also co-introduced new legislation that a release said will help small businesses, nonprofits and workers on the Central Coast facing economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Congressman Chris Pappas is the lead sponsor of the bill.
Known as the Too Small to Fail Act, the bill would make available zero-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the coronavirus pandemic. If approved, the legislation would also allow for up to $15,000 in grants for small businesses, distributed within three days after a business or nonprofit applies for an EIDL. The bill would also empower the Small Business Administration to defer payments on existing federal loans.
The full text of the bill can be read here.
The YMCA will be supporting the childcare needs of those who have essential roles in the community and must continue their work during this crisis, according to a recent release. The Emergency Pop Up Camp will be based out of the closed YMCA gym facility.
“We want to help support our medical personnel, first responders, grocery store, county, city, restaurant employees and all those who have no other option for safe and nurturing childcare,” the release said. “To follow all health department recommendations and standards we will have limited capacity and increased cleaning/disinfecting schedules. In an effort to maintain a healthy and safe environment for the children, no parents or other adults, besides YMCA employees, will be allowed inside the facility during program hours.”
Financial assistance scholarships are available for families in need of support. Camp begins Monday, March 23 and runs all week from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Because of limited space, it is first come, first served.
For more information about COVID-19, see the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and visit the San Benito County Public Health Services website for updated local information at http://hhsa.cosb.us/publichealth/.