Taking A Moment to Reflect: A Year of Uncertainty and Community Resilience

City of Palo Alto
Mar 16 · 8 min read

Looking back and sharing ways to help manage through as we look to brighter days ahead

Are you thinking about last year at this time? March 16, 2020 was a moment in time we will likely never forget. Heck, 2020 will not be a year we will forget anytime soon. Last year at this time Santa Clara County Public Health Officer issued a Shelter in Place Order. Palo Alto responded by managing through the pandemic; ensuring essential services continued, shifting many services online and offering virtual meetings and classes and much more. This blog provides a moment to reflect on the uncertainty that continues through this pandemic and ways we can manage these difficult times together. Our collective actions continue to save lives. Our community is stronger together.

Reflecting on Last Year

It’s been a year since the Santa Clara County Shelter in Place Order was issued and our world as we knew it changed. Since that time, you may feel like the one constant has been uncertainty and that is true. One other constant is our ability to connect as a community. There have been many examples of ways the community has managed through the uncertainty together. We are in this together and it is as important as ever to stay connected. Small acts of connection help keep us engaged and reduces the feeling of isolation that can exist during these challenging times. Call a friend, Zoom a loved one, walk in your neighborhood and wave to your neighbors or send a written letter to a friend or seniors. You can write letters or send messages to essential workers with Project Gratitude.

In December, the City released a video sharing some accomplishments and showcasing City staff teams serving the community through providing essential services such as police, fire and medical services, emergency and utilities services. The City continues to serve the community every day, including continuing to provide many services online like issuing permits and family storytimes, and offering sidewalk services at the Library, maintaining parks and open spaces, and more.

In addition, Mayor DuBois shared some reflections on the past year at this year’s State of the City Address. To hear his thoughts as he looked back at 2020, click on the video below.

Share your memories and reflections on social media. What are your favorite photos of 2020? Follow @cityofpaloalto on Instagram and share your memories of #2020 on Instagram with the hashtag #PaloAltoProud

Managing through the Pandemic

We are not out of the woods yet. However, even as COVID-19 variants continue to change the rules of the pandemic, we still see the light at the end of the tunnel. Brighter times are ahead with the continued progress in administering the vaccine, easing of restrictions to allow for more indoor activities, and several local schools welcoming students back for in classroom instruction.

As we continue to manage through the pandemic, community testing — along with safe practices and getting the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible — remains crucial in saving lives and reopening businesses and other activities.

Here are some resources if you are looking to schedule a COVID-19 test or interested in when you might be eligible for the vaccine.

Free COVID-19 Testing Continues

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer continues to urge the community to take safety precautions and get tested. On Saturday, Santa Clara County announced that the cumulative number of COVID-19 tests performed in Santa Clara County is now close to 3 million, a milestone that shows how far testing capacity has come since a year ago, when the World Health Organization declared that the rapidly spreading new virus was now a pandemic. What started with several hundred tests a day at the time has now grown to a testing operation that, during the peak winter surge, collected more than 25,000 specimens daily. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department urges continued community testing to manage the threat of COVID-19 variants, as well as tracking infection rates, treating cases, and slowing community spread. Multiple free testing opportunities in Palo Alto are available next week. Several testing dates will be available at the Mitchell Park Community Center and at Mitchell Park next week, including Tuesday, March 16, Wednesday, March 17, and Friday, March 19. Go here for more information and to sign up for an appointment.

Get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible

Visit sccfreevax.org for the latest information and updates on availability and options throughout Santa Clara County. Recently, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department released more information on the vaccine supply shortage that prompted the transfer of upcoming Kaiser member appointments from the County Health System back to Kaiser. Go here for more information.

Vaccine developments continue to evolve

On Friday, March 11, the State issued recent changes to vaccine eligibility, noting healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16–64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of specific severe health conditions are eligible to be vaccinated due to increased risk.

Upcoming City Council discussion on the City’s Community and Economic Recovery Plan

In January the Council provided input on a proposed Community and Economic Recovery Plan. The plan includes several areas of focus to support the community as we manage through the pandemic and navigate the continued uncertainty. The Council will consider revisions to the plan at their March 22 Council meeting. The plan is focused on four main elements with several priority projects woven into each focus area. Areas of focus include: Managing through the pandemic, Community wellness and wellbeing, Focused business support, and City priority initiatives.

For the staff report, go here.

Focusing on Wellness & Wellbeing

With uncertainty and changes still to come as we manage through the pandemic, a critical priority for the City is focusing on the community’s wellness and wellbeing. In fact, a new monthly event series begins this week focused on building community wellness and wellbeing! Save the date for all Wellness Wednesdays as we kick off the first session on March 17 at 5:00 p.m. Join Palo Alto Police Chief Robert Jonsen for an Introduction to Mindfulness for Adults. Sign up for one event or the event series and find out more about each monthly topic by going here.

Going for a hike and being outdoors is an excellent pandemic-friendly way to encourage wellbeing. Check out all of the open space preserves available for you to explore in Palo Alto. Check out this How To Guide for Foothills Park for more information on this space newly opened to everyone.

The relationship between Art, healing and wellness is undeniable. Palo Alto Public Art Program has unveiled eight new murals near California and University Avenues to support community well-being by animating these commercial corridors and promoting pedestrian traffic. Eight local artists and artist teams have created original designs exploring themes of resiliency, empathy, healing, cultural diversity and vibrancy, presenting a diverse cohort of artists varying in background, style, and experience. Viewers will be able to navigate from one mural site to the next with the help of an interactive tour map. Art labels at each location will incorporate QR codes offering additional information about each artist and their artwork. Pictures tagged with @publicartpa will be highlighted in the Public Art Program’s social media.

In addition, the City continues to share wellness resources, support services and family resources through our digital newsletter (find last week’s March 9 and March 11 editions) and find the City’s dedicated wellness webpage for other wellness ideas and approaches at www.cityofpaloalto.org/bewell. To sign up to receive the City’s Coronavirus Report digital newsletter, go here: www.cityofpaloalto.org/newslettersignup.

Ways to Stay Connected & Engaged

There are so many ways to stay connected and stay engaged. Here are a few ways coming up to do just that!

Apply to volunteer for a Board, Commission or Committee

The City just launched their Spring recruitment for Palo Alto Boards, Commissions & Committees. Interested in volunteering? Check out these opportunities before the deadline closes. Palo Alto is recruiting for various positions on its Boards & Commissions, including positions on the Human Relations Commission, the Public Art Commission, the Storm Water Management Oversight Committee, and the Utilities Advisory Commission. Community members are invited to apply for these open positions. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, April 6 at 4:30 p.m. Go here for more information and the applications for the positions. Please email all completed applications to Jessica.Brettle@CityofPaloAlto.org or contact the City Clerk’s Office at (650) 329–2571.

Share your thoughts and hear updates on the City’s Uplift Local effort

Join the City Manager and staff at the next Uplift Local Community Check In on Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. as they share Uplift Local and other City updates and offer an open opportunity for the community to share their experiences, ask questions and more. For other ways to experience the City’s Uplift Local effort and for meeting details including the Zoom link can be found at www.upliftlocal.org

Join the Sanctuary City Project for onsite printmaking at the Art Center

Learn about the Project and their residency at the Center, funded by a grant from the California Arts Council to the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, and pick up a print in the process! The event is this Saturday, March 20, 2021 from 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center. With the recent easing of indoor activities, the Art Center is now open with limited capacity! The Palo Alto Art Center hours of operation are Tuesday- Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more about their current exhibits, go here.

Join a Book Club with the Library

The Palo Alto City Library has regular virtual book club meetings, join one today! Find out more here. Check out the Library’s list for more self-care resources for adults during COVID-19.

For other ways to stay connected and engaged, check out the City’s online calendar at www.cityofpaloalto.org

Online Resources

For Coronavirus updates, go here: www.cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus

For COVID-19 Testing options in Palo Alto and beyond, go here: www.cityofpaloalto.org/testing

For wellness and wellbeing resources, go here: www.cityofaltoalto.org/bewell

For more on the City’s Uplift Local effort, go here: www.upliftlocal.org

To stay connected with the City through social media go here: www.cityofpaloalto.org/connect

To sign up for the City’s newsletters, go to www.cityofpaloalto.org/newslettersignup


Official communications from the City of Palo Alto.

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