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LAH reacts to easing of COVID restrictions

More than 2,130 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Santa Clara County, but fewer than 10 of them are from Los Altos Hills, Mayor Michelle Wu said last week during the town’s first virtual town hall meeting. 

“We don’t know the exact number, but the way I look at it, it’s very positive and it’s good news that we have a very low number,” she said.

The April 29 meeting took place just hours after county health officer Dr. Sara Cody issued a new order softening some shelter-in-place restrictions as of Monday. The Zoom teleconference attracted more than 90 viewers and participants, including Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Capt. Rich Urena, Dr. Hugo Yang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and State Sen. Jerry Hill.

The new order will remain in effect through May 31, and town hall is to stay closed throughout that time. But it allows for activities such as construction and landscaping to resume, and town staff are prepared to issue building permits and conduct inspections once again.

“All construction will be permissible provided the jobs are following the guidelines or the mandatory requirements for social distancing,” said City Manager Carl Cahill. “Our inspectors will shut down job sites if they’re not complying with those orders.”

The coronavirus lockdown has meant a drop in traffic and in calls for service for the Sheriff’s Office. Between March 16 and April 28, there were approximately 100 fewer calls in town compared to the same time last year.

“We’re spending a lot of time driving up and down roads, checking on cars that are parked illegally, talking to some residents,” Urena said. “Some of the reports we’re getting (are) in regard to mail theft, but overall, the town remains safe.”

Deputies have identified a woman suspected of mail theft in the area, and she may be connected to similar crimes in Los Altos Hills, but she has thus far evaded apprehension, Urena added.

Within the medical realm, the gradual easing of restrictions will likely mean escalated health-care capabilities with a return of elective surgeries, according to Yang, a concierge medical doctor who has worked with coronavirus patients. Most Bay Area residents, however, should expect to continue interfacing with doctors by video for now.

“That keeps everything safer,” Yang said. “We’re not 100% out of the COVID crisis; there are still new cases being diagnosed, so it’s not gone even though we have definitely flattened the curve through shelter-in-place.”

Dueling orders

Viewers of the meeting could pose questions by chat, and some directed their queries at the panel once unmuted.

One Hills resident wondered whether the new relaxation of outdoor activity restrictions means he can now play tennis with his immediate family at Fremont Hills Country Club. An assortment of answers followed. Cahill said he believes tennis – and golf, for that matter – are probably permitted, but Wu pointed out the state’s stay-at-home order is more restrictive and ought to take precedence if there’s any con-
flict.

“Play safe and stay safe,” Wu said. “This is temporary. This is not going to be a lifetime – maybe the next two weeks, next few weeks. We can sacrifice a little bit.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom may ultimately follow local officials’ lead anyway, Hill mused.

“I’m not aware of his direction on or changing his order in terms of golf. … My sense is he will be easing his restrictions to accommodate the counties in the future,” Hill said. “That would be my guess, just based on what I know from his previous and prior actions.”

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