September 2020

COVID Program Updates

By Zach Friend, Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 2

As we continue to face health and economic challenges related to COVID-19 many in our community are looking into programs and services to provide assistance. While our community overall is faring better than many portions of the state and country, we’ve seen a significant increase in cases in the last month and also continued high levels of unemployment (or for those that are employed – reductions in hours and pay). Here are updates on some programs and information that might be of interest during this time.

Rental Assistance Program Created
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to provide $1 million in CARES Act funding for local rental and utility assistance in order to prevent unincorporated residents from losing their housing during the pandemic. The original CARES Act funding wasn’t designated for counties of our size but the state did allocate some of the funding to us and this is an eligible expense. With significant unemployment and, at the time of this writing, lack of clarity on additional federal assistance for unemployment and other financial impacts, the Board felt this was an important step to prevent some community members from entering homelessness. Details are being finalized for applications and eligibility so if you have questions feel free to reach out to me at 454-2200 or go on the County website for updates.

Great Plates Program Extended
Great Plates Delivered, which brings meals to over 600 local seniors during the pandemic, has been extended at least until September. The program is is run through the Human Service Department of Santa Cruz County, in partnership with local community based organizations, and is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of California with local support from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County. The program provides up to 3 meals daily from local businesses for seniors who are 65+ (or 60+ and high risk) that live alone or with one other program eligible adult, are not currently receiving assistance from state or federal nutrition assistance programs and have an annual income of less than about $75,000 for singles and $101,00 for 2 person. If you want to see if you’re eligible you can call (831) 454-4406.

County COVID-19 Website Updated With Data And Resources
The County’s dedicated website to all local COVID-19 information has been updated with additional data. The site, www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus – has daily case counts (including active cases), demographic breakdowns, hospitalization rates, spread rates, testing counts as well as new information for businesses (employer toolkits) and more. Additionally, the site has information for parents looking for childcare, the latest information on health orders and other links to resources.

County Business Blue Check Program
The launched of a new program to help inform the community about business safety by providing a public health endorsement to businesses that are following safer health and safety practices. The Blue Check Program is a voluntary program giving businesses that follow public health guidelines for staff and customers, signage endorsing their operations. Participating businesses will be given a unique “COVID-19 SAFER, Blue Check” display to post near entrances. This help residents know about businesses that are attesting to protocols from the Health Officer including enforcement of physical distancing, requirements for face coverings, disinfection of shared equipment and limits on the number of customers in a store. The program is voluntary and open to all Santa Cruz County businesses. Complaints about non-compliance with participating businesses should be emailed to [email protected] Business can obtain the sign via the Office for Economic Development website, sccvitality.org.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have on this (or any other County issue).

I’m maintaining regular updates on social media at facebook.com/supervisorfriend and during the shelter-in-place order I’m hosting tele-townhalls with County, State and community leaders. If you’re interested in the town halls or just want to connect on an issue you can always call me at 454-2200.

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