COVID LETTER. Hello Coastsiders,
I do not know about you, but to me this week felt like Groundhog day. Cue up Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe playing on the alarm clock every morning!
In addition to opportunities to volunteer locally, The Office of the Governor/California Volunteers is building a database of people who want to volunteer to help when needed. This is not part of Coastside CERT but we have been asked to share this link. California Volunteers and Listos California are the two State-wide programs that oversee our capacity-building grant. We have described to them what CERTs on the Coastside have been doing and they are pleased with the response and resiliency of our community.
There are so many organizations helping Coastsiders get through this tough time. Four local nonprofits in particular stand out for meeting the immediate needs of our most vulnerable residents:
Senior Coastsiders – Preparing more than twice as many weekday meals as usual for delivery to seniors in their homes by their volunteers and in collaboration with Meals on Wheels.
To volunteer or donate: https://www.seniorcoastsiders.org/
Coastside Crisis Fund
Coastside Hope, Abundant Hope, and ALAS (Ayudando Latinos a Soñar) have formed the Coastside Crisis Fund to offer emergency financial assistance to low-income residents amid the coronavirus outbreak. They provide a modest cash stipend and retail gift cards for up to three months to cover cost-of-living expenses for qualifying residents.
To donate: https://abundantgracecw.org/index.html
Emergency Food Pantry
Coastside Hope has seen a 75% increase in families visiting their food pantry compared to February. They expect this number to continue to grow as this health crisis continues to impact families in our community, particularly the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes, the disabled, working people who have been furloughed or lost their jobs and may not be eligible for government programs, and the homeless.
To donate: https://www.coastsidegives.org/coastsidehope
To volunteer: https://coastsidehope.org/volunteer/
Working with local residents who do not qualify for relief programs offered by Coastside Hope, ALAS is providing rent relief, small stipends and gift cards for cost-of-living expenses. In addition to this work associated with the Coastside Crisis Fund, ALAS is making 5,000 masks to protect our farmworkers, custodial staff, agricultural workers and other essential staff during COVID-19 between here and Pescadero. ALAS is also collecting and delivering food and water directly to migrant farmworkers.
To donate: https://donorbox.org/supporting-alas-in-2019
The latest health order requiring the public and workers to wear face coverings went into effect on April 17th and will be enforced until further notice. Note that these are not medical grade masks but simple and minimal ways to reduce exhaled droplets that could be inhaled or transferred after landing on a surface and touched by someone who missed the hygiene messages. I have seen several masks being made and am lucky enough to now have some created out of my old Fire T-shirts by ALAS – Ayudando Latinos a Soñar – Thank you very much, Dr. Belinda Hernandez Arriaga!
I have had a lot of people ask me why people are wearing masks while they are driving alone in their cars. There is definitely a greater risk of transferring a virus from your hand to your face as you are putting the mask on and off and constantly adjusting it… so I can see that if you are going from one essential stop to another close by it makes sense to keep it on…. But then I saw Darwin at work today when someone next to me a stop sign was wearing gloves and a mask while eating potato chips and having a cigarette! (My mother taught me to say nothing if I can’t say something nice… so I’ll leave it there!)
Not much new COVID-19 news out there – an increase in politics and debate on the numbers, studies, best practices. Probably the biggest news is that the first known coronavirus-related death in the US occurred in Santa Clara County in early February. But no further clarity on how and when we will alter our current shelter in place practices.
I am encouraged that there a point of care CoV-2 test that can give COVID-19 +/- results back in around 30 minutes has been approved. There are many rapid tests in development and they may play an important role in clearing individuals before they can enter a protected community such as a convalescent hospital.
To review the 2 main types of tests being talked about:
- Antigen or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) This detects the genetic RNA of someone who is actively infected. Most commonly a thin swab is inserted into the back of your nose and throat and it takes a few days to get the results back from the lab.
- Antibody or Serology Testing In serological tests, a droplet of blood can detect the presence of antibodies from an immune response to SARS-CoV-2. The presence of the antibodies would mean that you were previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2. It is not yet known if any immunity will remain after recovery from exposure.
If you do volunteer or seek volunteers to help during COVID-19 please, please rigorously follow these tips for How to Volunteer Safely and Keeping Volunteers Safe.
Several of us at work suspect we may have had COVID-19 at the end of December or beginning of January – We are not experts and the experts keep telling us no, that would have been too early to have contracted the disease.
I accept the expert advice and tell myself that it was just the worst flu of my life. However, the second I get a chance to take the antibody test, I’m taking it!
On Wednesday I had to evaluate the road up Montara Mountain to the North Peak radio repeater and then the Old San Pedro Mountain road to Pacifica. Knowing I was going to be on an ATV in lots of vegetation, I made sure I was loaded up on nose spray and allergy medicine. Wednesday and Thursday I had a sore throat and for some reason everyone was afraid of me. So I went online and registered with the Baseline COVID-19 Testing program. I took the survey and was offered 9am or 11am on Friday. (I was amazed it was available so soon.)
I come from a long family line of nose bleeders and have had my nose cauterized a few times to stop the bleeding… so needless to say, I was not looking forward to the procedure. The procedure was quick and pretty painless. Each week, I receive the most feedback when I share my personal experiences so here is my COVID-19 drive-thru test experience so you can all experience it with me!
And I did not get a nose bleed…You’re welcome! If you are in need of testing there are several options out there but here is the link I used. https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/
WELL DONE to all the CERTs who came to the fire station on March 7 to be background checked to satisfy our grant requirement for 100 CERTs to pass California DOJ Live Scan requirements! While privacy protections do not allow me to reveal pass/fail rates I am happy to report we made great progress. Huge thanks to all of you – you know who you are – for making the background check effort a resounding success so far. Shout out to CERT Cindy Watson, who supervised the second day so successfully she somehow managed to get 5 more people through the process than were scheduled on the day. We’ll hold one more day of background checks to complete our grant compliance once scheduling is a thing again.
This week’s preparedness assignment… Remember last year’s Public Safety Power Shutdowns?
Are you still prepared? Time to review and be ready.
Stay healthy and don’t expect me to top this week’s message next week!
Fire Battalion Chief David Cosgrave
San Mateo County Battalion 10
Serving Coastside Fire Protection District
San Mateo/Santa Cruz Unit Battalion 10-A
Cell (650) 740-7247
or call the
On-Duty Coastside Battalion Chief (877) 298-1712
Proudly Serving Coastside Fire Protection District and San Mateo County Fire Department