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By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Coronavirus: Plan ahead now for a big outbreak

Uploaded: Mar 23, 2020
So here we are. Cuddled up in our homes, trying to stay isolated from each other, and being told by Governor Gavin Newsom that we may have some 25 million cases of the coronavirus here in California.

A frightening thought. So what will we do about it?

Well, if a lot of us are affected and staying at home infecting others in our family, maybe it’s time for our cities to start planning to have a well-staffed confinement center in our community – without building anything new.

How about using one or two of our schools in town for quarantine quarters? Schools are empty until September, Newsom declared, they have lots of classrooms that can be divided in half, if needed. They have bathrooms and staff rooms, and even large cafeterias that can prepare food that can be put into containers and distributed to patients.

We have a shortage of nurses and doctors, but maybe some medical retirees could be called back to help voluntarily at these quarantine schools. I know several physicians that might be willing to assist, with, of course, proper equipment, e.g., masks and gowns and medications and thermometers. The city could get behind this effort.

This concept would cost a whole lot less than building any new makeshift quarantine building; the patients would be indoors but with some outdoor space to roam around. Plus schools are located in every city, so designating one or two make them conveniently accessible. But if found feasible, and I think it is, we need to start planning for it now, finding out where to order cots and blankets and determine who could provide the food.

Other things:

Kudos to the city of Palo Alto that has a daily online coronavirus report site, filled with much-needed useful information. Well, it’s not exactly daily, as in seven days, but evidently Monday to Friday. Here’s last Friday’s site:
If that doesn’t work, try googling it.

I love the idea that some grocery stores are open typically from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors-only purchases. For those people staying at home with limited cooking skills, I now am seeing a lot of local restaurants advertising that their menu items are now take-out – and can be accompanied with a glass of wine! Can city officials provide a website that these restaurants can register on so if a person wants take-out, he or she doesn’t have to look for a couple of ads? Each community could do this.

I still don’t have a mask. I’m not talking about the N95s, which must first go to the medical workers, but just an ordinary mask. I’ve checked with several pharmacies and am told they are not in yet, which gets me angry. We in Santa Clara County are one of the high-risk coronavirus hotspots in the country, and we don’t even have masks in our stores. We’ve been told they are only necessary if you have the virus symptoms, but I read elsewhere that even those little masks can be helpful. Perhaps the city could tell all of us when they are available, and give priority purchasing to those with medical issues (like diabetes and heart problems) and seniors.

BTW, I saw on one of the Neighborhood websites that “free masks” were being advertised, so I clicked on the site. Alas, the masks being offered were stage masks (like Phantom of the Opera) and Halloween masks. I laughed. But fool me once …

Another BTW, I am so grateful for the Internet, my TV, the telephone, video movies, and other forms of being socially alive. Here's one on museum tours around the world:

My nearby neighborhood had a virtual cocktail hour this week. Using Zoom, they all signed in, glasses of wine in hand, and just began to chat with each other. A good time was had by all for more than an hour, and people felt far less lonely.

So to stay socially alive, this is a good chance to share on this blog how you have been affected by the coronavirus warnings -- and the closing of so many stores.

Today I am going to clean two more closets. Yet I am feeling more isolated. How about you?
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by NeilsonBuchanan, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

The zoom cocktail hour definitely works. Six friends tried it yesterday for birthday coronatinis. As a hedge, I want to celebrate my August birthday this weekend on Zoom

Posted by Father of 3, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 1:31 pm

Very nice entry Diana. Thank you. Wondering if we could arrange something like Italy is/was doing - at a designated time everyone goes out into their front yard and sings a particular song. It's great to lift the spirits. We could start with For He's A Jolly Good Fellow. And just keep it going, like in Laurel and Hardy Go to Oxford. 5pm tonight anyone?

Posted by Rick, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Hi Diana,

I just read that Jo-Ann Fabrics is giving away free fabric and instructions to make your own mask. No need to wait for commercial supplies.

Posted by Nobody Cares About Pronouns Now, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 8:55 pm

Good ideas, Diana. I'm grateful for the local reporting.

That said, I didn't think it was possible to despise the national media more than I did a few weeks ago.

I was wrong.

Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

I still am wondering whether our local officials are talking about/planning for quarantine areas in our town. We can't delay actions like the federal government has done for three months (yesterday the HHS finally ordered some masks!). So I want our community to plan ahead for quarantine centers, so all family members in a household don't get the corona virus. If we don't plan ahead, it won't happen, and Gov. Newsom indicated there may be a big outbreak.


Posted by Nobody Cares About Pronouns Now, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Diana: I hope you are able to spend some time every day outside walking (exercising social distance, course). Getting vitamin D from the sun and soothing your mind at the same time.

Posted by Siding, a resident of ,
on Mar 25, 2020 at 4:21 am

Siding is a registered user.

Yes It is! Thanks for sharing! keep it up diana! (portion removed)

Posted by Nobody Cares About Pronouns Now, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 25, 2020 at 7:44 am

A friend went to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara for her son's surgery (unrelated to CoVid-19). She spent six hours there. She reported that in the parking lot there were many more empty places than cars, and the place had a “ghost town feel" compared to normal. She got the same feeling inside the hospital. I take this as a very positive sign. (It doesn't tie into the MSM hysteria POV.)

Posted by Trump fired the Pandemic Team, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:38 am

> I take this as a very positive sign.

Don't. It's been in the news: hospitals are clearing out as they ramp up for the next couple weeks. Example: elective surgeries have been postponed.

It's like reading the "new cases per day" chart in the NYT. It flattened yesterday. Good news?

No. Some states have cut back on testing folks with moderate symptoms to preserve both tests and PPE resources for the worst. In New York, now they don't need to know how many total cases as bad as they need to preserve.

The time for full testing in that state was a month ago, when the tests and Federal guidance where woefully lacking.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:54 am

One fairly simple thing that could be done would be to space out the time people are out and about. Grocery shopping done by people with last name beginning with first half of the alphabet certain days alternating with second half of the alphabet. Or alternating am and pm.

Foothills Park could have entry for even car plates in the am and odd in the pm alternating too.

Spacing our outings would make sense.

Posted by Derek, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm

@Trump Fired ... I think you are correct. In British Columbia, canceling elective surgery, etc.. has brought hospital utilization from the average of 103% of capacity to 60% of capacity. They are getting ready, as hospitals are here, hopefully.

Posted by VictoryGarden, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards,
on Mar 26, 2020 at 8:21 am

If you're brave enough, time to go over to Home Depot or the local hardware store and plant a few tomato, cucumber, eggplants. It's the beginning of Spring (although you can't tell this morning).

Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:49 am

Diana, your suggestion of quarantine locations for people who have been tested positive so that they are less likely to affect the people they are living with is excellent. China did something similar: anyone with a fever was quarantined away from their family. It makes a lot of sense.

Posted by another senior, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Given the demographics of Palo Alto, maybe there should be many more "senior hours" ? -- the limited hours are concentrating too many people in the stores...

Posted by Carl Jones, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 27, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Carl Jones is a registered user.

IF you do not have a mask, and if you feel you want one, then
It helps remind you not to touch your face while you are out, and it likely provides as much help as a mask would if you had one.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:08 pm

I appreciate that your very down to Earth blogs concentrate on the important stuff, thank you.

Posted by LongMemory, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Mar 28, 2020 at 4:08 am

Diana Diamond,
We appear to be of similar ages, so I can assume your long memory includes countless examples of politicians & news & "experts" spouting off about opinions about what is ahead of us, and how wrong they turn out to be.

The most reliable opinions these days are from the TV weather-person!

On the mask you don't have. Ever heard of a ski-mask? The gas-station lady wears a second head-scarf (in addition to her usual one) as a mask. It's several layers of washable cloth wrapped around her face with just her eyes peeking out through safety glasses. It's not an N95, but it's better than nothing.

On the schools idea. Perhaps colleges/universities with dormitories would be useful, but I certainly would not touch K-12 schools which are not remotely suitable.

On the retired. Health care workers I know didn't retire until they had to. Also, they are the age group at greatest risk. If we could have many retired & qualified people take over video appointments and advice by phone (from their own homes), that might free-up many others.

I'm not opposing the current public health measures that our state and local authorities have taken (well, at least not the ones that were honestly about the virus), but I have seen enough in my life to recognize when many people in authority (and in the news media) are choosing their words and making decisions based on a desire to serve an agenda beyond fighting the real enemy in front of us.

In your prior post you point out the "disastrous Democrat debates" and in another prior post you ask about where "honesty" has gone, especially among politicians. Honesty left the building when the news media was allowed to become subordinate to entertainment companies and/or serving at the whim of billionaires with their own agendas. Politicians have always been dishonest, but for the past few decades, the watchdogs (news media) are no longer honest either.

What would you expect of the debates, given the people running?

So, when our Governor says half the state will be infected with this virus, we should all take that claim within the context of what his chosen opinion is really worth and what his unrelated agenda items are.

When we heard "experts" claiming USA mortality rate will be 4% (of those infected) when we cannot actually know the truth or even come close to a scientific-ish guess. When the media mis-quotes and exaggerates and politicians exploit every opportunity for other agenda items. etc.

What are we to believe?
What are we to really prepare for?
How much of the damage this virus will ultimately do was from actual infections, and how much of the damage will be the fault of authority figures trying to turn this virus into an excuse to do what they always wanted to do before it came along?

The massive $2.2T aid package passed by Congress included a long list of totally unrelated giveaways and power-grabs, it should be obvious that politicians are taking full advantage of even this emergency to push other agendas and the news&entertainment media are equally complicit.

Posted by Kat, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 28, 2020 at 11:05 am

Post removed

Posted by One Voice, a resident of Ventura,
on Mar 28, 2020 at 10:28 pm

How about using local hotels as confinement centers? Are they busy right now? The downside of schools is that they have communal bathrooms. Having to get out of bed and get to the bathroom on the hall would be a drawback then there's the need to provide the beds. Hotels already have beds and private bathrooms.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 29, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The new, Covid-19 specific, Pandemic Influenza and Respiratory Illness Preparation and Response: A Citizen's Guide Version 3.8 has just been released.

This Citizen's Guide was written by citizens for citizens. It contains the nitty gritty of what each individual citizen can and should do both to prepare for and respond to the oncoming Covid-19 pandemic.

This Guide was carefully vetted by the world's leading infectious disease experts and the forward is written by Dr. David L. Heymann (Former) World Health Organization, Executive Director, Communicable Diseases.

This Citizen's Guide is NOT a government publication but it does reflect the best available scientific and medical advice.

Please read this guide carefully and share it with your family, friends, workmates and playmates. It is FREE to all. Please post it on web sites where others may download it. One site that has the file is:

Web Link

To check for current updates to this manual, please visit

Web Link

Corrections and Additional Acknowledgments
If you wish to correct an error in this manual or if you find material for which the original author or source is not properly acknowledged (an increasingly common and unavoidable problem in the age of multiple postings and of extracts that do not retain identification of the original source) please document your concern and email it to

Stay Safe,

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 29, 2020 at 7:52 pm

I think it was a big mistake for Gavin Newsom to put a stake in the ground
and quote 25 million cases.

Where does that prediction even come from? How was it arrived at?
Was he saying that so that if we came in under that number that somehow
he could claim credit, or does everything start to look Trumpian in this
country at this time?

Was that a number if we had no counter-measures in place. Was it a
number vetted by experts? One thing I hope we learn is that in future
keep politicians away from being able to spin the scientific facts, and
have people like Dr. Anthony Fauci facing from and explaining it to us.

Even at a 1% fatality rate, if those cases as too stacked up and overload
our system that would mean a nominal 2 million deaths.

Very alarming to say that without qualifying it or giving us some kind of

We really need testing and sequestering the infected, and antibody
tests to know who has been exposed and has resistance, and of course
ultimately a vaccine.

The ignorance of saying just forget it all and go out and just let the chips
where they may and those who are going to die let them die is astounding.
They are talking about most people getting serious lung and heart
damage from this, and it would be the equivalent of a death sentence
or handicapping a lot of people for life. I hope if the President ever
actually decides to follow through with a harebrained scheme like that
responsible governors and other leaders reject it.

Posted by Suzanne Keehn, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 30, 2020 at 10:07 am

Suzanne Keehn is a registered user.

Diana, have you sent this piece to the P. A. City Council, I will if you haven't. Suzanne

Posted by henryStrock77, a resident of Castro City,
on Apr 5, 2020 at 3:56 am

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