Op-Ed

Thank you, San Joaquin: You are truly making a difference

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As we write this column, 456 residents throughout San Joaquin County have contracted COVID-19 and 20 have tragically died. They are our neighbors, family and friends and we are deeply hurt by every loss.

Local response

Protecting public health and safety is the foundation of everything we do as a government. During this pandemic, the county and our cities are implementing the following:

• Adopting a “Stay at Home” order to ensure residents practice social distancing.

• Coordinating with state and federal partners to activate emergency response measures and funding.

• Establishing an emergency operations center to coordinate all agencies for swift response.

• Protecting vulnerable populations, including seniors, homeless and at-risk communities.

• Securing ample protective equipment, hospital beds, ventilators.

• Supplying tests for residents with rapid results.

• Broadcasting information through local news, social media, videos and virtual briefings.

• Offering funding and assistance to closed businesses.

• Ensuring government services aren’t interrupted.

• Keeping county and city staff safe by reducing the onsite workforce without compromising services.

It was an extremely difficult decision to shut down schools, businesses, places of worship, parks and other public spaces. We know each one of you are making extraordinary personal and financial sacrifices during this pandemic. But these drastic measures were necessary in order to slow the spread of the virus, protect our first responders and front-line workers, safeguard the community, minimize future deaths and ultimately flatten the curve.

Thank you, health care personnel and first responders

By staying home, residents are protecting our vital first responders who could contract COVID-19 through exposure while doing their jobs. If we put these essential workers at risk to the virus and they become ill, that means there is one less person on the front lines to combat the pandemic. These heroes are putting their lives on the line during this deadly outbreak. We owe them our heartfelt gratitude and must do everything we can to take care of them. For our part, we are providing the critical equipment and working conditions to keep them safe. We need residents to do their part, take this virus seriously, and stay home.

Thank you, San Joaquin residents

We are seeing so many in San Joaquin taking action to serve others. People like Gina Valadez of Bread of Life, Pastor Joey Steelman of Lord’s Gym, and the hundreds of other volunteers and community organizations who have stepped up to deliver food and supplies to families and vulnerable individuals. Words cannot adequately express our sincere appreciation to these folks as well as our health care workers, public servants, grocery store staff, small businesses and others who make sure we are cared for and remain safe. They are why we say “Greatness Grows Here,” and we are profoundly grateful.

Show your thanks: Please stay home

We’re facing a health crisis unlike anything in recent history. By following CDC guidelines and the best science to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus, it appears our efforts are making real progress. With everybody endeavoring to stay home, our health care system will be better able to manage any surge in cases that might be coming. We need to continue all our efforts at this time so that our curve gets flattened even further and we give our frontline workers the best chance they can have to deal with all our health care needs. It’s the only way we can avoid the worst-case scenario for our community, get our lives back to normal and reopen for business. We are strong, San Joaquin County, and we will get through this together! Visit SJReady.org or sjcphs.org for all COVID-19 questions.

Kathy Miller is the chair of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors representing District 2.

Dr. Maggie Park is the San Joaquin County public health officer and is leading the COVID-19 response effort.

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