COVID-19 Testing Transparency, Distance Learning & How to Get Involved

Mayor Matt Mahan
4 min readMar 27, 2020
Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this difficult time. Please reach out if you need support. There are many resources out there, but I understand that finding and using them is not always straightforward. I am here to help.

While I do not take office until January 1st, I plan to stay in touch in the meantime to share information and find ways to collaborate. Over the past week, I’ve been focused on two important issues immediately facing our community:

1. COVID-19 Testing Transparency: I’ve been working with local reporters to ask that the County Public Health Department (PHD) disclose the number of COVID-19 tests conducted per day. We had a breakthrough on Monday, when the PHD informed us that they had tested just 647 individuals in total, which is very low. New York, in comparison, is testing over 20,000 individuals per day. PHD has not released new numbers since. Jenn Wadsworth, writing for Metro, published an excellent investigative story outlining this situation. As I say in the article, greater transparency will increase focus, speed and results for our community.

What is most important for everyone to understand at this point is that we likely have over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 in our county, 95%+ of which have not been identified. Therefore, it is critical that people continue to stay home and avoid close (within 6 feet) interaction with anyone outside of your home. At this point, the County is focused on keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed by incoming cases. Fortunately, our PHD ordered “shelter-in-place” relatively early, which gives us a chance to avoid the severe situation that is now unfolding in New York.

I will continue pushing on the testing issue. We will need fast, inexpensive and widely accessible testing and contact-tracing protocols in place in order to manage a transition back to normal life. Private sector companies are ramping up their testing capacity, but I want to ensure that our PHD is working on an aggressive “test and trace” plan for the weeks and months ahead.

2. Distance learning in our schools: I’ve heard from a number of parents who are rightly concerned about their children’s educational needs. While safety and basic nutrition and health needs come first, there is no excuse for one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced parts of the world to stop educating our young people. I am encouraging San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) and other local districts to experiment with distance learning solutions, including daily video-conferencing between teachers and students.

SJUSD officials have raised a valid concern about unequal access to devices, broadband internet, and support for students with special needs. I agree it is vital that we do not allow this crisis to further exacerbate existing educational disparities. However, doing nothing and leaving families on their own will in fact do the most to widen such disparities.

I’m advocating that the district survey families to understand resource needs, provide an inventory of existing devices at schools, and work with the private sector to fill any gaps. I’m also encouraging the district to consider a staggered rollout of distance learning, perhaps starting with our most disadvantaged schools and including daily updates on progress, barriers, and needs, with a goal of rolling out distance learning opportunities district-wide as quickly as possible. Please join me in encouraging our school board leaders to experiment with distance learning solutions by calling and emailing the following individuals:

Board President Teresa Catellanos: tcastellanos@sjusd.org

Board Vice President Brian Wheatley: bwheatley@sjusd.org

Board Member José Magaña: jmagana@sjusd.org

Board Member Carla Collins: ccollins@sjusd.org

Board Member Kimberly Meek: kmeek@sjusd.org

Superintendent Nancy Albarrán: superintendent@sjusd.org

Please continue sending your ideas, concerns and questions my way. I’ve been blown away by the generosity and resilience of our community, and I know that we will continue to rise to the occasion in the difficult weeks ahead. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger on the other end.

Finally, if you would like more information about the City’s response to COVID-19 or would like to contribute your time, money or other resources to our community’s response, please visit: Silicon Valley Strong.

Sincerely,
Matt

Councilmember-elect, San Jose District 10; matt@mahanforsanjose.com; 408–891–9708

Matt is Councilmember-elect for San Jose District 10, which includes the Almaden, Blossom Hill, Santa Teresa and Vista Park neighborhoods. You can subscribe to Matt’s newsletter here: https://forms.gle/ycvcf3fbKSFU2JfA6

--

--

Mayor Matt Mahan

Mayor, San Jose. Former D10 Councilmember, Brigade CEO & Co-founder, SVLG and Joint Venture Silicon Valley Boards, and SJ Clean Energy Commission