News

Coronavirus looms over local restaurants, slowing business

'The economic effects on our area could be lasting for quite some time.'

At Chez TJ in Mountain View, chef Jarad Gallagher saw an unprecedented drop in Saturday reservations: from 40 to 18 in a number of hours.

Vina Enoteca in Palo Alto is estimating a $50,000 loss from a number of private event cancellations — and is expecting more next week.

Chef Chu's in Los Altos has watched dine-in business drop by 15%, mostly from corporate customers, but takeout is up.

The owner of Palo Alto Sichuan restaurant Taste is considering shutting down for good amidst weeks of declining dine-in, delivery and catering sales.

As fear about the risk of the coronavirus spreads, many, though not all, local restaurants are seeing an impact on their bottom lines, especially due to canceled private events and large group reservations — particularly by local tech companies, owners said. Not all are explicitly connected to the coronavirus, but owners see a link with the timing of the spread of the virus, particularly in Santa Clara County, where more than 30 cases have been confirmed.

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Restaurants are taking extra precautions to educate and protect their staffs, including stocking up on disinfection wipes and hand sanitizer, talking about prevention before service and emailing articles and up-to-date information. At the Michelin-starred Chez TJ, where waiters usually fold diners' napkins when they get up from tables, they're instead replacing the napkins with new ones to minimize contact. The upscale Plumed Horse in Saratoga took a perhaps unprecedented step to eliminate half of the restaurant's dining room to allow for a minimum of six feet between tables.

"People are just being more cautious," said Larry Chu, the general manager at Chef Chu's. "It's like going to the supermarket and seeing all the shelves of dried pasta and dried foods and toilet paper all empty. I think panic comes from fear."

Chu said the Chinese restaurant's dining room has been more filled with local regulars than out-of-town corporate diners of late. Google recently canceled a 20-person event. Chef Chu's was set to provide soup for Community Services Agency's annual Empty Bowls Soup Supper this Sunday, but the Mountain View nonprofit postponed it after the county Public Health Department recommended that older adults avoid large events where they might be exposed to the coronavirus.

Chu predicted that Chef Chu's deep roots in the community would mostly insulate it from a more concerning drop in business. But smaller, family-run Chinese restaurants might not be so lucky, he noted. (Restaurants in San Francisco's Chinatown reported steep declines after word spread of the coronavirus' origin in Wuhan, China.)

"I think people that come here, that live here are comfortable with the local Chinese restaurants and they're supporting us," Chu said. "It's not like going to Chef Chu's is any different from going to eat at an Italian restaurant or a French restaurant."

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Gallagher said he's concerned about the domino effect the coronavirus could have on the local food industry. Fewer reservations means fewer tips for his front-of-house staff. Travel restrictions and tech companies' quiet urging of employees to stay home and not attend social events could mean fewer people dining out — particularly at high-end restaurants like Chez TJ.

"I believe that we will, from a health perspective, get this taken care of. The economic effects on our area," however, Gallagher said, "could be lasting for quite some time."

"The economic effects are greater than just our restaurant," he added. "It affects our farmers. It affects our farmers markets. It affects our producers. Everybody takes a hit in the hospitality industry."

The state's Employee Development Department is encouraging employers who are experiencing a slowdown in their businesses as a result of the coronavirus to apply for an unemployment insurance work sharing program.

Down the street from Chez TJ, business has been "noticeably slower" at Steins Beer Garden, said owner Ted Kim. He's seen canceled reservations at both Steins locations in Mountain View and Cupertino but said that he's not aware of any customers mentioning concerns yet in person.

"For at least a portion of the public it doesn't seem like a significant enough concern to prevent them from dining out," he wrote in an email. "Really hoping this passes over soon before we really start (to) see business drop. I can see it headed in that direction."

Steins is asking employees to stay home if they show any signs of illness and will send staff home if they arrive and appear sick, Kim said. The restaurants are buying more disinfection wipes and tubs of hand sanitizer for staff, have spent more time cleaning and disinfecting and are offering more trainings on proper hand-washing and refraining from face-touching. Staff are receiving companywide emails with any new information or updates related to the virus, Kim said.

Zareen Khan, owner of the eponymous Zareen's in Palo Alto and Mountain View, has been making "contingency plans" to prepare for cost reductions and ways to increase revenue, such as promotions to help boost sales. The Post in downtown Los Altos started offering 20% off to-go orders to boost sales.

"We have started to see a hit and (are) expecting it to get worse," said owner Vickie Breslin.

Khan is ordering hand-sanitizing stations for her restaurants (though it's hard to find Purell, she said) and informing her employees about prevention, including through posters written in Spanish for Spanish-speaking staff.

The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse in Palo Alto will start offering off-site catering and takeout early next week "to offer additional services to those guests who are more comfortable enjoying our cuisine in their offices or homes," Director of Public Relations and Marketing Marilyn Skinner wrote in an email.

Local grocery stores, meanwhile, are seeing a spike in sales. The Market at Edgewood in Palo Alto saw as high as a 35% increase in business and sold out of water, according to co-owner Emel Mutlu.

"People have been shopping more because they're trying to stock up," she said. "It makes us concerned about our neighbors that are restaurants that have seen a decline."

Delucchi's Market in Redwood City, however, canceled on March 10 an upcoming event with food and live music "out of concern for the safety and well being of our customers, partners and employees in light of the coronavirus situation."

Not all local restaurants have seen a drop in business. Restaurant group Bacchus Management Group said its four Peninsula establishments — The Village Pub and The Village Bakery in Woodside, Selby's in Redwood City and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto — are doing well, though private dining at Spruce in San Francisco has been affected "slightly" due to the cancellation of large tech conventions.

Meichih Kim of Maum in Palo Alto, a small, Michelin-starred Korean restaurant with prepaid reservations, said bookings have slowed but the restaurant is still nearly fully booked. The chef and co-owner said they're purchasing a hand sanitizer stand for guests as they walk in.

Peter Katz, owner of local burger chain The Counter, said he's been reading and anecdotally hearing about the impact on food businesses but it hasn't yet materialized at his restaurants.

"It's concerning, even though I think it is quite an overreaction," Katz said. "It may turn out to be that the economic impact is more serious than the actual health impact to the vast majority (of people)."

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.

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Coronavirus looms over local restaurants, slowing business

'The economic effects on our area could be lasting for quite some time.'

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 8:52 am

At Chez TJ in Mountain View, chef Jarad Gallagher saw an unprecedented drop in Saturday reservations: from 40 to 18 in a number of hours.

Vina Enoteca in Palo Alto is estimating a $50,000 loss from a number of private event cancellations — and is expecting more next week.

Chef Chu's in Los Altos has watched dine-in business drop by 15%, mostly from corporate customers, but takeout is up.

The owner of Palo Alto Sichuan restaurant Taste is considering shutting down for good amidst weeks of declining dine-in, delivery and catering sales.

As fear about the risk of the coronavirus spreads, many, though not all, local restaurants are seeing an impact on their bottom lines, especially due to canceled private events and large group reservations — particularly by local tech companies, owners said. Not all are explicitly connected to the coronavirus, but owners see a link with the timing of the spread of the virus, particularly in Santa Clara County, where more than 30 cases have been confirmed.

Restaurants are taking extra precautions to educate and protect their staffs, including stocking up on disinfection wipes and hand sanitizer, talking about prevention before service and emailing articles and up-to-date information. At the Michelin-starred Chez TJ, where waiters usually fold diners' napkins when they get up from tables, they're instead replacing the napkins with new ones to minimize contact. The upscale Plumed Horse in Saratoga took a perhaps unprecedented step to eliminate half of the restaurant's dining room to allow for a minimum of six feet between tables.

"People are just being more cautious," said Larry Chu, the general manager at Chef Chu's. "It's like going to the supermarket and seeing all the shelves of dried pasta and dried foods and toilet paper all empty. I think panic comes from fear."

Chu said the Chinese restaurant's dining room has been more filled with local regulars than out-of-town corporate diners of late. Google recently canceled a 20-person event. Chef Chu's was set to provide soup for Community Services Agency's annual Empty Bowls Soup Supper this Sunday, but the Mountain View nonprofit postponed it after the county Public Health Department recommended that older adults avoid large events where they might be exposed to the coronavirus.

Chu predicted that Chef Chu's deep roots in the community would mostly insulate it from a more concerning drop in business. But smaller, family-run Chinese restaurants might not be so lucky, he noted. (Restaurants in San Francisco's Chinatown reported steep declines after word spread of the coronavirus' origin in Wuhan, China.)

"I think people that come here, that live here are comfortable with the local Chinese restaurants and they're supporting us," Chu said. "It's not like going to Chef Chu's is any different from going to eat at an Italian restaurant or a French restaurant."

Gallagher said he's concerned about the domino effect the coronavirus could have on the local food industry. Fewer reservations means fewer tips for his front-of-house staff. Travel restrictions and tech companies' quiet urging of employees to stay home and not attend social events could mean fewer people dining out — particularly at high-end restaurants like Chez TJ.

"I believe that we will, from a health perspective, get this taken care of. The economic effects on our area," however, Gallagher said, "could be lasting for quite some time."

"The economic effects are greater than just our restaurant," he added. "It affects our farmers. It affects our farmers markets. It affects our producers. Everybody takes a hit in the hospitality industry."

The state's Employee Development Department is encouraging employers who are experiencing a slowdown in their businesses as a result of the coronavirus to apply for an unemployment insurance work sharing program.

Down the street from Chez TJ, business has been "noticeably slower" at Steins Beer Garden, said owner Ted Kim. He's seen canceled reservations at both Steins locations in Mountain View and Cupertino but said that he's not aware of any customers mentioning concerns yet in person.

"For at least a portion of the public it doesn't seem like a significant enough concern to prevent them from dining out," he wrote in an email. "Really hoping this passes over soon before we really start (to) see business drop. I can see it headed in that direction."

Steins is asking employees to stay home if they show any signs of illness and will send staff home if they arrive and appear sick, Kim said. The restaurants are buying more disinfection wipes and tubs of hand sanitizer for staff, have spent more time cleaning and disinfecting and are offering more trainings on proper hand-washing and refraining from face-touching. Staff are receiving companywide emails with any new information or updates related to the virus, Kim said.

Zareen Khan, owner of the eponymous Zareen's in Palo Alto and Mountain View, has been making "contingency plans" to prepare for cost reductions and ways to increase revenue, such as promotions to help boost sales. The Post in downtown Los Altos started offering 20% off to-go orders to boost sales.

"We have started to see a hit and (are) expecting it to get worse," said owner Vickie Breslin.

Khan is ordering hand-sanitizing stations for her restaurants (though it's hard to find Purell, she said) and informing her employees about prevention, including through posters written in Spanish for Spanish-speaking staff.

The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse in Palo Alto will start offering off-site catering and takeout early next week "to offer additional services to those guests who are more comfortable enjoying our cuisine in their offices or homes," Director of Public Relations and Marketing Marilyn Skinner wrote in an email.

Local grocery stores, meanwhile, are seeing a spike in sales. The Market at Edgewood in Palo Alto saw as high as a 35% increase in business and sold out of water, according to co-owner Emel Mutlu.

"People have been shopping more because they're trying to stock up," she said. "It makes us concerned about our neighbors that are restaurants that have seen a decline."

Delucchi's Market in Redwood City, however, canceled on March 10 an upcoming event with food and live music "out of concern for the safety and well being of our customers, partners and employees in light of the coronavirus situation."

Not all local restaurants have seen a drop in business. Restaurant group Bacchus Management Group said its four Peninsula establishments — The Village Pub and The Village Bakery in Woodside, Selby's in Redwood City and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto — are doing well, though private dining at Spruce in San Francisco has been affected "slightly" due to the cancellation of large tech conventions.

Meichih Kim of Maum in Palo Alto, a small, Michelin-starred Korean restaurant with prepaid reservations, said bookings have slowed but the restaurant is still nearly fully booked. The chef and co-owner said they're purchasing a hand sanitizer stand for guests as they walk in.

Peter Katz, owner of local burger chain The Counter, said he's been reading and anecdotally hearing about the impact on food businesses but it hasn't yet materialized at his restaurants.

"It's concerning, even though I think it is quite an overreaction," Katz said. "It may turn out to be that the economic impact is more serious than the actual health impact to the vast majority (of people)."

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.

Comments

I Love Zareens :-)
Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 11:37 am
I Love Zareens :-), Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 11:37 am
23 people like this

I would encourage all the restaurant owners to consider making more ready-made food and having it available for pick up. I am definitely thinking that if when the number of cases increases in this area, people are not going to want to dine out. But we're still lazy as can be and want some good food at home. I know that I, for one, would be willing to drop in and grab a prepared meal (paying with my phone and greeting folks with jazz hands or the Live Long and Prosper gesture), then go home and eat it. Would I still be exposing myself and my family somewhat? Of course. But the number of interactions and the time spent out in public would be less. Clearly, there's also the option of Door Dash/Uber Eats/etc. If I owned a restaurant, this is what I'd be thinking about right now. (I'm also secretly trying to mind control Zareen's into delivering that Grilled Chicken Boti Sizzler to my front porch right now....I'm hungry.)


Local
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:56 pm
Local, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:56 pm
15 people like this

I would encourage diners to check the county health inspection history of any restaurant they visit. I have twice gotten really sick from area restaurants over the years, both time it was clearly related to the visit. One of those was norovirus, which is not killed by hand sanitizer. (The doctors poo-poo'd the possibility and then coincidentally there was a major local and South Bay norovirus outbreak... It's a pretty awful infection.)

It's really important for restaurants to practice solid good hygiene. If I had checked out one of the restaurants, I would have found serious violations in their recent history. Far from fixing the problem, I looked again not long after and saw that county health visited again and found such serious violations AGAIN, they put them on spot check status.

Restaurants that are taking their clients' health and safety seriously should be safe places to eat. Please patronize our local Chinese restaurants as they have nothing at all to do with what's happening in a country halfway across the globe. Mandarin Roots, for example, is run by a Palo Alto native son. I really want the restaurant that took over from Su Hong on El Camino to thrive so we have choices in local Chinese food.

We haven't eaten out much in recent months because of what a punishing squeeze the five-figure tax increase of 2017 put on our already struggling household. Please, those who can afford it, keep our businesses thriving!


Good Homecooking Is Better Than Eating Out
Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:58 pm
Good Homecooking Is Better Than Eating Out, Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:58 pm
18 people like this

People should learn to cook at home anyway...good practice.

Instead of overspending at an over-rated restaurant, stop by Williams of Sonoma instead!


James
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2020 at 4:05 pm
James, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2020 at 4:05 pm
21 people like this

I am surprised that doctors and nurses from the Stanford Hospital and from PAMF run around outside the hospital with their scrubs and nursing tops. Are they not taught in medical school that this is the best way to spread germs and viruses?
Why do they not change into civilian clothes when going outside the hospital for lunch/dinner or to/from work? I know that the excuse is lack of time, but in times like these, this can hardly be an acceptable reason


Gethin
Midtown
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:07 pm
Gethin, Midtown
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:07 pm
5 people like this

The Friends of the Palo Alto Library are cancelling their March book and ephemera sale as a cautionary measure although they will remain open for donations.
For more information see
www.fopal.org.


resident
Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:52 pm
resident, Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:52 pm
27 people like this

The article says canceling large social events is "paranoia", but this is exactly what the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is recommending. "At this time, we recommend postponing or canceling mass gatherings and large community events where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another." From the Santa Clara County government website: Web Link

Yes, this is going to mean lost profits, but until the government can get their act together on testing and treatment for this disease, they don't have any better advise.


Peter Carpenter
Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:57 pm
8 people like this

a HUGE change in public health guidance:


Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 5, 2020: New statement issued from San Mateo County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow.



Public Health Officer Statement (3/5/2020)
This is a difficult message to share, but it is important to recognize how difficult the times ahead may be and how you must now take assertive action to prepare for them. Our local situation surrounding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing rapidly. COVID-19 is spreading in our community, the extent of which is unclear. It has likely been spreading for weeks, perhaps months. I have no reason to believe that how it’s spreading in other counties won’t be replicated to some degree here. We now all need to take assertive actions to inhibit the spread of this new virus. Some of those actions are described below. I advise that individuals, schools, business, and all other sectors of our community take immediate steps to change behaviors and take definitive action.

Our lives will be significantly disrupted by the measures needed to respond to a global pandemic. A pandemic is a global occurrence of an infectious disease. A pandemic is a disaster with unique characteristics. The two most important differences between a pandemic and other disasters are that the whole world is going through this disaster at the same time, and people may become fearful of other people. The current COVID-19 outbreak clearly has the potential to turn into a severe pandemic.

County Health continues to work with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state and local partners to manage testing and monitoring of persons who have been exposed to COVID-19. But our focus is rapidly changing from a containment strategy (identifying cases and contacts) to one of community mitigation—taking steps to lessen the broad impact of the disease. County Health and our public and private partners are taking steps to increase our ability to respond and are planning for a sustained response to COVID-19.

How the world operates during a pandemic is different from how the world operates normally. This is not business as usual. With a pandemic comes significant disruption to supply chains (the process of how things get from where they are made to where they are used), transportation, and travel. Even if the disease is not rapidly spreading in our area, we may face difficulty obtaining the goods and services we are accustomed to, public events may be canceled, and our ability to travel might be restricted.

San Mateo County Health continues to advise that the steps to prevent the spread of flu will also guard against the spread of COVID-19: cover your cough and sneeze, wash your hands frequently, avoid shaking hands and touching your face with unwashed hands, and if you are not feeling well or are experiencing cold, flu, or other symptoms, stay home from school or work. If you are mildly ill, there is no need to contact your primary care provider as they are very busy right now. If you are significantly ill, contact your primary care provider.

Here are the most important things for you to consider to improve your personal and organizational preparedness:

What matters most is how households, neighborhoods, community groups, businesses, and other organizations prepare. What does that mean? Preparedness equals self-sufficiency. The government will help where it can, but it may have a limited ability to respond directly to you due to the scale of the disruptions.
Individual and community preparations should focus on three tasks—reducing each person’s chance of getting sick (see both individual and more general public health recommendations both above and below), helping households with basic survival needs during a pandemic, and minimizing and coping with larger disruptions in how the normal day-to-day world works.
All businesses and other organizations should now be done reviewing their continuity of operations plans for how they will operate if their employees are unable to work and how they will interact with members of the public and prepare to implement these plans soon.
All medical facilities and providers should be done reviewing their surge plans for how to handle increased numbers of patients and be prepared to implement.
Getting ready for a pandemic is largely about preparing for possible shortages. In a pandemic, supply chain disruptions are inevitable but are also unpredictable.
Since it contains vital supplies, a good start is to make sure your earthquake kit is up to date and ready to go. Of course, having supplies beyond the typical earthquake kit is a good idea. What you decide to have on hand is based on your individual and family situation and your individual preferences.
One likely shortage will be medications. You should attempt to obtain a couple of months supply for your critical medications.
If you have other critical supply needs, you should conserve them and stock up on them now.
Now is also the time to think about how you will care for loved ones at home if they or you are sick and how you would limit spread within the family.
Frequent and appropriate hand-washing is far from a perfect solution, but it’s easy, under your control, and has no significant downside.
Like washing your hands, wearing a surgical mask may help a bit, but you need to know that surgical masks don’t offer much protection when they are worn by people who are well. They are most helpful when worn by those who are already sick so that they are less likely to transmit the disease to others. Surgical masks and masks offering higher levels of respiratory protection are already in short supply and should be prioritized for use in health care settings.
You should use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch commonly touched surfaces, such as any door handles or elevator buttons.
Change from my previous message: I am now asking for the implementation of the activities below at this time.

All non-essential gatherings should be canceled, postponed, or done remotely. Unfortunately, at this time, I have no standard definition of “non-essential” or “gathering” to guide your decisions. Use your best judgement.
Stop shaking hands.
Increase in the amount of remote working or teleworking to the extent possible especially for those who appear at higher risk for developing the disease, those over the age of 60 and those with co-morbid conditions.
Under all circumstances, stop touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth with your unwashed hands.
I am not asking for the implementation of these activities, but these are the types of activities we may need to implement in the future:

School closures. Schools are an essential gathering. School closings present a particularly vexing social distancing dilemma but may be necessary to protect public health. Once school closings occur, they may be extensive and extended.
Social distancing—staying at least 6 feet away from all other people—should be attempted where possible.
Rationing (a formal process of prioritizing distribution and use) of critical supplies may need to occur.
To get ourselves through the hard times that may be coming, your community may need volunteers. Think now about the skills you have and how you can help your community. Heed the call should volunteers be requested.
Other public health interventions that have been used with some effect in other countries include commandeering of both real or personal property, conscription, curfew, and cordons. It is unlikely that these interventions would be used here due to practical considerations.
Issues around testing for COVID-19. You may have received incorrect information from the federal and state government on March 4, 2020. San Mateo County does not currently have testing available independently of the state and CDC. The amount of testing that is available through the state and CDC is severely limited. Should testing become more widely available, testing will be prioritized based on healthcare infrastructure concerns, risk of exposure, and/or very sick hospitalized patients. Tests will not automatically be given upon request or by a physician’s order. This may change as testing capacity evolves over the next few months.

Scott Morrow, MD, MPH
San Mateo County Health Officer
March 5, 2020

FAQ
WHAT IS NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?

Novel coronavirus is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. It has now spread to many other countries, including the USA. Technically, the virus is named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes is called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). See information about 2019 Novel Coronavirus on the CDC website

HOW IS SAN MATEO COUNTY HEALTH RESPONDING?

San Mateo County Health officials are working closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. We are providing information to health care providers in our county on how to safely and effectively evaluate ill people who have symptoms. We continue to monitor the situation, work with our partners to identify any possible cases, provide information and consultation to ensure that possible cases are diagnosed and managed safely, as well as implement recommendations from the CDC. Additionally, we conduct full investigations, assist with logistics from transportation to accommodations with all positive cases.

WHAT CAN SAN MATEO COUNTY RESIDENTS/VISITORS DO TO PREVENT COVID-19?

Individuals can prevent illness:

Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
Always cover your cough or sneeze;
Stay home if you are sick and;
If you have recently returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infection, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials.
Individuals can prepare for the possible disruption caused by an outbreak:
Make sure you have a supply of all essential medications for your family;
Make a child/elderly/adults with disabilities care plan if you or a care giver are sick;
Make arrangements about how your family will manage a school closure; and
Make a plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself.
WHERE DID COVID-19 COME FROM?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different types of animals including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people. The animal source of COVID-19 is not known right now.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

In confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

HOW DOES THE VIRUS SPREAD?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. See How Coronavirus Spreads.

IF I HAVE A FEVER, COUGH, OR SHORTNESS OF BREATH, DO I HAVE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

It is cold and flu season now, and many people have symptoms of illness that are not related to COVID-19. If you have fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your medical provider right away and tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel. Be sure to call ahead before you visit the office, clinic, or hospital, so that the medical provider can prepare for your visit.

SHOULD I GET TESTED TO SEE IF I HAVE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

On March 4, 2020, CDC updated their guidelines for evaluating and reporting persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 to expand testing to a wider group of symptomatic patients. To avoid overburdening our local health care system this new guidance should be interpreted with caution. We are working with CDC and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to determine how these changes will be operationalized. Once available, we will disseminate additional guidance to medical providers San Mateo County through the routine pathways.

The updated CDC guidelines expand testing to a wider group of symptomatic patients. Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as the clinical course of illness. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza.

Epidemiologic factors that may help guide decisions on whether to test include: any persons, including healthcare workers, who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, or a history of travel from affected geographic areas* within 14 days of symptom onset.

(*Affected areas are defined as geographic regions where sustained community transmission has been identified. Relevant affected areas will be defined as a country with at least a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice. See all COVID-19 Travel Health Notices.)
SHOULD I BE WEARING A MASK TO PREVENT GETTING NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

Good hand washing techniques are the most effective ways to prevent yourself from getting sick. This means washing your hands often with soap and water and rub for at least 20 seconds. If you have a fever or cough, a face mask is recommended to prevent spread of germs to others around you. Currently, there is no recommendation to wear masks. However, if you choose to wear a face mask, it is important to understand that face masks are not a substitute for hand washing which is the priority.

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL?

CDC currently recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China and South Korea. CDC also lists Iran, Italy, and Japan as countries where there is sustained community transmission of COVID-19 and that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel. The worldwide COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly, and more countries may be added to these lists. Stay up to date by checking the CDC travel health notices related to this outbreak.

IS THERE A VACCINE FOR NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

No. Efforts to develop a vaccine are underway in many places globally, but currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against novel coronavirus.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT IF SOMEONE GETS SICK WITH NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

The treatment right now is to take care of the symptoms. There is no specific treatment for novel coronavirus.

I’M FEELING STRESSED AND OVERWHELMED, WHOM CAN I TALK TO?

For information, referrals, and assessments for local mental health and substance use services, please contact your health insurance company to connect to a resource within your insurance company’s network. For residents insured by Medi-Cal, call Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ ACCESS Call Center at (800) 686-0101.

For 24/7 confidential crisis support from local/national organizations, call (650) 579-0350 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Chat online: text “START” to 741741.

I’M A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER. WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

We have information about novel coronavirus and other health alerts for clinicians here.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

You can visit San Mateo County Health’s COVID-19 page or visit the CDC’s website COVID-19 page You can also find more information by accessing the links listed below.

RESOURCES FOR COVID-19

Infographic Poster – COVID-19 Stop the Spread of Germs [Simplified Chinese] [Spanish]
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers from CDC [Simplified Chinese] [Spanish]
CDC COVID-19 Fact Sheet [Simplified Chinese] [Spanish]
CDC What to do if you are Sick with COVID-19 [Simplified Chinese] [Spanish]
CDC Infographic: COVID-19 Symptoms [Simplified Chinese] [Spanish]
Main CDC COVID-19 Website


Novedades acerca del Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC por sus siglas en Inglés) han transferido al condado de San Mateo uno de los pacientes recientemente repatriados y cuyo test para detectar el virus ha resultado positivo. Por el momento no compartiremos ningún otro detalle al respecto.

Información actualizada por el CDC sobre el COVID-19 puede ser accedida aquí:

Web Link


Hmmm
East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm
13 people like this

I went from being disappointed to disgusted by the author’s use of the word “paranoia.” I recommend it be edited out. I also agree that checking a restaurant service health department ratings is a good idea. Why reward those that don’t take customers’ health seriously?


Take-Out As An Alternative
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2020 at 4:02 pm
Take-Out As An Alternative, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2020 at 4:02 pm
9 people like this

We are only ordering Chinese 'take-out these days as a restaurant filled with other diners (regardless of ethnicity) raises the odds of even getting the flu.

Too many variables involved and if some restaurants lose money or go out of business, so be it as we already have too many establishments competing for the diner dollar here in the bay area.


dubious
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:57 am
dubious, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:57 am
5 people like this

It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you.


Huh?
Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 1:17 am
Huh?, Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 1:17 am
11 people like this

I don't understand the postings about restaurants having ready-made food. Employees and cooks can be sick. This is a time that people can learn to cook at home. Forget the overcooked rotisserie chickens, cook your own at home, it's so easy and this recipe is the best for juicy chicken: Web Link I just use salt/pepper for seasoning, and you need kitchen twine and a thermometer Web Link. I like Mary's chickens from The Market. Watch the Food Network show, "The Kitchen", to learn to cook: 4 chefs, 4x the advice.

Wash your hands when you get home (use knuckles to turn on faucet) and use hand sanitizer in the car. We will all be fine, we aren't as densely populated as NYC and are all on high alert. Influenza is a killer too (60,000/year). Basic hygiene will keep viruses from spreading. Sneeze or cough into your elbow sleeve to prevent the spread of germs. Don't put fingers in mouth, eyes, nose if hands are not washed. The media has gotten everyone hysterical.


Azarian Ziffman
College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2020 at 7:07 am
Azarian Ziffman, College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2020 at 7:07 am
11 people like this

@Take-Out as an alternative : “We are only ordering (clip) 'take-out these days as a restaurant filled with other diners (regardless of ethnicity) raises the odds of even getting the flu.”

Not correct.
Food and containers prepared, packaged, handled in an environment where the virus is present can be contaminated.



Azarian Ziffman
College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2020 at 7:18 am
Azarian Ziffman, College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2020 at 7:18 am
26 people like this

“ Forget the overcooked rotisserie chickens”

No. It’s probably one of the better things to get. Heat kills the virus.

“We will all be fine, we aren't as densely populated as NYC”

It’s not that simple.

“and are all on high alert. “

Who is ?
I’ve not seen a “High Alert” issued.

“Influenza is a killer too (60,000/year)”

So ?
That should worry you a lot because the death rate for Covid is 20+ times higher and it spreads like the flue.

Basic hygiene will keep viruses from spreading.

Not true

“The media has gotten everyone hysterical.”

Says a person telling us to avoid rotisserie chicken and claiming we’re on “here high alert”


Jennifer
another community
on Mar 8, 2020 at 6:58 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Mar 8, 2020 at 6:58 pm
10 people like this

I'm still going to eat out. I refuse to panic and stop living my life. I think the cancelling of public events is panic. SF cancelled the St. Patrick's Day parade. Yet San Diego is having theirs, and San Diego is bigger than SF. It's not like the Corpnavirus isn't a threat in Southern CA.


Resident
Community Center
on Mar 8, 2020 at 8:59 pm
Resident, Community Center
on Mar 8, 2020 at 8:59 pm
9 people like this

A previous poster requested that the Weekly change the reference to “paranoia” in the article, but it remains. It is not responsible for the Weekly to characterize and editorialize in a news article. “Cautious” seems to be a better characterization, especially as we have seen the guidance by the County Public Health Dept and other agencies become more aggressive nearly each day. They now recommend that people over 50, or with pre existing conditions, should avoid public gatherings of which restaurants may be included.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2020 at 9:16 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2020 at 9:16 pm
6 people like this

People will get bored with this self isolation. People will want life to return to normal. People will start getting fed up with this hermit life existence. I give it a week before people start wanting to get their lives back.


dubious
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2020 at 12:10 am
dubious, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2020 at 12:10 am
5 people like this

"I give it a week before people start wanting to get their lives back."

I give it a year, maybe two, before stock prices and everyone's 401(k) comes back.



cheese guy
Palo Verde
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:34 am
cheese guy, Palo Verde
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:34 am
15 people like this

One has to look at the current epidemiological data to make a decision about socializing in public at this time. People under 40 have a significantly lower mortality rate from COVID, so most likely they are risking a few weeks of severe lower respiratory distress and a fever (HOWEVER they are also further contributing to the spread of the virus, including to those over 50 who are at much higher risk of severe symptoms and death).
When one thinks about it, going to a restaurant at this time is analogous to stepping on a cruise ship for 2 hours. For anyone over 50 (and especially over 65) it's likely a stupid thing to do. People in close proximity to each other, surfaces that will pick up the virus (it may well last on surfaces, especially hard surfaces for hours) and are not sterilized between use by customers, etc. Restaurant staff touching objects and running from person to person.
The only way this growing pandemic will slow down is to either minimize social and interpersonal contact now (yes, quarantine works, and if we did it on a mass scale this outbreak could be stopped), develop a vaccine (the best scientists say that's 18 months away), or just let the virus run it's course and let millions die.


Azarian Ziffman
another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:17 am
Azarian Ziffman, another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:17 am
6 people like this

“going to a restaurant at this time is analogous to stepping on a cruise ship for 2 hours.”

That is not true.

“ if we did it on a mass scale this outbreak could be stopped”

This is not true


cheese guy
Palo Verde
on Mar 9, 2020 at 7:37 am
cheese guy, Palo Verde
on Mar 9, 2020 at 7:37 am
14 people like this

Azarian- It's not fake news that you can dismiss with "not true" (as you seem to do to a lot of things), it happens to be well established that quarantine strategies are the only way (short of vaccines) to slow the current spread. Yes hygiene helps, but not sufficiently. Try looking at something like:
Web Link


Elena Kadvany
another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 8:54 am
Elena Kadvany, another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 8:54 am
5 people like this

Thank you to the commenters who raised concerns about the use of the word "paranoia." In response, we have decided to replace it with "fear." I appreciate your feedback.


Wordsmith
Stanford
on Mar 9, 2020 at 8:57 am
Wordsmith, Stanford
on Mar 9, 2020 at 8:57 am
14 people like this

> Thank you to the commenters who raised concerns about the use of the word "paranoia." In response, we have decided to replace it with "fear." I appreciate your feedback.

^ From a semantics standpoint...'heightened concerns' would have been even better.


C
Palo Verde
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:08 pm
C, Palo Verde
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:08 pm
12 people like this

> SF cancelled the St. Patrick's Day parade.

SF didn't cancel the Lunar New Year parade early February, and reported an increase in CoVid a month later. I'm curious if other cities which didn't cancel the parade had similar increases.

> I refuse to panic and stop living my life.

This isn't a social movement. It's lowering your risk from an epidemic.


Sophie88
another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:25 pm
Sophie88, another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:25 pm
3 people like this

Based on the information and statistics provided by CDC, media, social media, people with their right minds are capable to make decision by themselves in event of COVID spread and responsible for the consequences. No need to dictate how people should live their lives or change their life styles.


cheese guy
Palo Verde
on Mar 11, 2020 at 6:46 am
cheese guy, Palo Verde
on Mar 11, 2020 at 6:46 am
14 people like this

The bottom line at this point in the US (and especially in SC county, a relative "hot spot") is to do something now to slow the growth of new COVID cases or risk the health care system being overwhelmed (there are numerous reliable sources talking of how people are dying in Italy because of health care being overwhelmed). Some places in the world (e.g., Hong Kong) have successfully kept the growth rates down. We have to flatten the growth rate now to avoid exponential growth of new cases in the next 2 weeks. Tragically, , the data currently suggest that we are about 2 weeks behind Italy at this point (see Web Link ). We could dictate how people need to change their lives now (that doesn't seem very American) to flatten the growth, protect the health care system, and save lives . The bottom line is that right now we need people to socially distance themselves and avoid crowded spaces. I fear that in a month we will look back on this thread and say "what were we thinking, why didn't we do something to head this off".



Jennifer
another community
on Mar 11, 2020 at 10:28 am
Jennifer, another community
on Mar 11, 2020 at 10:28 am
4 people like this

I don't think there really is anything that could slow the progress of this spreading. Even if you cancel large events, classes, stop taking public transportation, etc. people still go to work daily, go grocery shopping, get gas and other necessary things in their lives. Unless we all stay home 24/7, this will spread.


Jennifer
another community
on Mar 11, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Mar 11, 2020 at 8:36 pm
7 people like this

C - For me to EFFECTIVELY lower my risk, I would have to stop going to work everyday. My profession doesn't work from home. I'd also have to stop going to the grocery store, gas station, post office and every other place under the sun where there are people.

Just wash your hands well, stay home if you're sick and avoid sick people. Quit panicking and live your life. Your can't stay home 24/7/365.


cheese guy
Palo Verde
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:11 pm
cheese guy, Palo Verde
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:11 pm
11 people like this

Jennifer-
To say that there is "nothing that could slow the progress of this spreading" is to quite frankly spread misinformation that places you and the general public in danger. Growth rates of infection are closely linked to the degree to which people come in close contact with each other. Without contact the virus and new infections will disappear. The only way we can avoid the current situation in Italy is to do what Italy has now done (somewhat too late), lock down the country for a period of weeks, leave open only absolute essentials (food, pharmacies), and send everyone home to avoid contact with the outside world. You can't stay home 24/7/365, but staying home 24/7/21 would likely save many thousands of lives. FYI, if we don't get this under control now, some scientific estimates of dead Americans from COVID in the next 18 months are over a million. If you don't know what you are talking about, don't say it,


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:23 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:23 pm
5 people like this

Jennifer, if you have access to NYT's articles here is a good one to explain why you are mistaken.


Flattening the Coronavirus Curve - Web Link
One chart explains why slowing the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it.

Notice from the chart how if all the cases spike at the same time it overloads our ability to react and will make the pandemic even worse whereas if the cases are slowed and occur over time we have a greater ability to handle them.


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