The city of Mountain View proclaimed a state of emergency Thursday afternoon in response to the new coronavirus, clearing the way for swift action against the spread of the virus and easier access to state and federal funds.
The announcement was quickly followed by closures of the Mountain View Senior Center and recreation facilities through April 5.
Mountain View joins numerous cities and counties in California to make the emergency declaration as the proliferation of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has become a global pandemic. There have been 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, according to public health officials.
In the proclamation, City Manager Kimbra McCarthy wrote that the spread of COVID-19 has imposed "extraordinary" requirements and expenses on the city, causing it to divert resources away from day-to-day operations. It also means the city may have to pursue "potential isolation and quarantines of residents, employees, businesses and public safety workers" affected or exposed to the coronavirus.
The emergency declaration is effective immediately, and will stay active for the next seven days. This gives time for the City Council to ratify the the city manager's proclamation and extend the state of emergency.
Precautionary measures include a blanket cancellation of all city events through the end of the month, including the cancellation and postponement of performances at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at city facilities throughout Mountain View, and city staff are recommending that all residents frequently wash their hands and commonly used surfaces.
"The city's foremost priority is to maintain the health and safety of the community and our employees," Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga said in a statement accompanying the declaration.
On Friday, city officials announced that several sports recreation facilities will be shut down starting this weekend. The Mountain View Sports Pavilion, Whisman Sports Center and the public pools at Eagle Park and Rengstorff Park will be closed from March 14 through April 5.
Winter classes hosted by the city through the recreation department will be canceled from March 14 through the end of the winter session. A pro-rated refund will be given to customers with canceled class dates.
Prior to the state of emergency, numerous city programs and services had already been canceled, scaled back or modified to safeguard against the spread of coronavirus. Library events through March 14 had already been canceled, and the Senior Nutrition Program -- run by the nonprofit Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos (CSA) out of the city's senior center -- had shifted its popular daily lunch program to take-out meals-only.
As of Friday, city officials say that the senior center will now only be open from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. for the Senior Nutrition Program -- effectively closing it for all other services through April 5. All evening rentals at the senior center from Monday through Thursday will be moved or canceled, while Friday and weekend evening rentals will be honored.
The city has also sought to use video conferencing or outright cancellations of in-person meetings deemed non-essential, and has modified any trainings and gatherings hosted by the city to include "social distancing" -- often described as a 6-foot buffer between individuals.
The proclamation shows escalating concerns about coronavirus, starting with the first reported county case on Jan. 31 and the first COVID-19 death in the county on March 9. That same day, county health officials had announced a ban on all mass gatherings of 1,000 people or more in Santa Clara County.
But the trigger for the city's emergency declaration was a pronouncement by the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic -- the first such announcement since the swine flu in 2009.
The city has also announced the following events have been canceled as of Friday morning:
● April 3 Concert on the Plaza
● April 4 Volunteer Fair
● April 17 Concert on the Plaza
● April 18 Deer Hollow Farm Spring Tour
● April 25 Spring Parade