Opinion: Full court press needed to deal with alarming Covid rate in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks


Daily Post Editor

Government, business and nonprofit leaders need to make a full court press to stop the surge of Covid cases in East Palo Alto and unincorporated North Fair Oaks.

On Jan. 2, the Post reported that East Palo Alto had 9,158 Covid cases per 100,000 compared to 1,265 in Palo Alto — a 7 to 1 ratio.

North Fair Oaks, the unincorporated area along Middlefield Road between Atherton and Redwood City, has a Covid infection rate of 7,269 per 100,000.

The numbers are from the Covid dashboards from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

While the numbers are readily available, they’ve received little attention from the news media or community leaders.

Mobile clinic approved

However, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian of Palo Alto apparently knew about this surge when he asked Palo Alto City Council members on Dec. 23 to use $354,550 of federal block grant money to buy a mobile Covid vaccine clinic for East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood Health Center.

To their credit, the council members unanimously approved the request, with then-mayor Adrian Fine acknowledging that Palo Alto had an obligation to help its less well-off neighbor.

What Simitian and the Palo Alto council did was laudable. But where are San Mateo County’s leaders? They have federal block grant money too. East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks so often seem to be the forgotten communities in San Mateo County. That kind of thinking needs to change.

Drop Newsom’s vaccine priorities

San Mateo County leaders should drop whatever they’re doing and go to work today on getting the vaccine to residents of these two hard-hit communities. They need to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has failed at distributing the vaccine, that it’s time to drop the confusing categories for who gets the vaccine first, and give it to whoever needs it right now.

Since we have an ample supply of unused vaccinations. It’s time for some civil disobedience and have local health officials distribute them to the people who are most at risk, even if helping them means ignoring Newsom’s system.

People in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Menlo Park have space in their homes for a Covid positive family member to isolate themselves. In East Palo Alto or North Fair Oaks, it’s not uncommon for two families to occupy a single-family home. You’ve got people sleeping in the living room, kitchen or garage. There’s no way to isolate somebody who is Covid-positive, so the virus spreads like wildfire. They need places to stay.

Let’s give vaccinations to everyone in these two communities who wants one. And let’s work day and night until the job is done.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].


  1. 18664548855
    The Kaiser number.in San Mateo County. They are not taking appointments.
    well, now, Kaiser has been a flop. San Mateo County has been a flop. Santa Clara county has been a flop.
    Everyone is blaming someone else and the eighty year old are dying too. Who should I blame?

      • Oh, “Corrections,” you are so correct! What a dreadful mistake.

        A 7:1 ratio would be 8,855 cases

        An 8:1 ratio is 10,120

        The actual number is 9,158

        Mr. Price knew darn well that he should have said 7.2395256-to-1 ratio!

        Instead he chose to shorten it to 7:1.

        Why would he do such a shameful thing! It must be intentional!

        I say fire the bastard! Or at least do a cancel culture number on him!!!

  2. What do “cases” even mean when the PCR tests are totally unreliable? Even assuming the numbers are accurate, I think new cases are a good thing as each infection is like a natural vaccination and long-term immunity.

    Also, the idea of having more space to isolate in average PA vs EPA homes and that somehow prevents spread, is a delusion, since aerosol particles travel up to 50 meters. And personally, I can’t remember the last time I got sick when my kids and spouse were ill, even if they coughed and sneezed all over me, which is why I don’t believe viruses make you sick. You make yourself sick by how you handle stress, amount of sleep, diet, exercise, and sun.

    The problem in EPA is poor metabolic health and socio-economic factors, not the virus. Japan has a ton of “cases” and very few deaths. The same for other east asian countries. It’s because they have better health.

  3. Editor, is it a Covid testing unit for Ravenswood Health Center, as previously reported, or a vaccine unit, as is now being reported?

    • I can’t speak for the editor, but I believe the Ravenswood Health Center was only doing testing up until a few days ago, and now it is transitioning to both testing and vaccines.

  4. Palo Alto has no particular obligation to East Palo Alto, any more that is has an obligation to any other locality, and to the extent is has obligations to areas less well off than it, EPA is not any different than any other low income area, and if we are talking about wealthy areas versus poor areas, Palo Alto has less of an obligation than Atherton, Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills, etc. Its obligations, if any are no more nor less than those of Menlo Park, Mountain View, or many other cities. There is no historical, legal, or governmental connection between PA and EPAs. They are in different counties. Palo Alto came into existence almost 100 years before the marshland in what is now EPA began to be settled, and even then it was called Ravenswood, not EPA.

  5. You are right on the money! It is in everyone’s interest to reduce Covid in low income areas. Give the vaccination to everyone who lives in these areas and you protect all of us.

  6. The biggest factor in the difference in infection rates is behavior, and by now everyone should have a.pretty good idea on how to minimize the risk of infection. While living situation, job environment and use of public transportation contribute, the biggest risk is socializing in large groups, which is why the infection rate spiked so greatly over the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays, while the other risks remained static. Our government has very limited ability to control such voluntarily chosen behavior, short of locking people up. Affluent areas like Palo Alto have a lower infection rate because the more highly educated and affluent are more attentive towards precautions like social distance and masks.

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