City Takes Steps to Keep Community Safe, Limit Coronavirus

City Takes Steps to Keep Community Safe, Limit Coronavirus

For Immediate Release

March 10, 2020

Over 30 City events and programs postponed, cancelled or modified due to coronavirus concerns 

PALO ALTO, CA To limit the potential spread of respiratory viruses and safeguard those at highest risk of catching COVID-19, the City of Palo Alto announced a series of actions to keep the community safe during this time of heightened public health risk. In response to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department recent guidance to cancel large events in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the County, the City is postponing, cancelling or modifying over 30 events and programs from now until March 31, 2020. In addition, the City is encouraging all community members to keep our community safe by preventing the spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19 by staying home if sick, use hygiene best practices including washing your hands, calling your health practitioner before going to the hospital if you have COVID-19 symptoms and other healthy lifestyle approaches. Help our most vulnerable community members stay safe during this public health emergency by demonstrating that hygiene is important for everyone. The City is continuing its work to provide essential services through thoughtful planning for several impact scenarios. The City has already implemented operational changes to support first responders and safeguard our community from COVID-19 risks. The City continues to track and monitor the public health situation in our community, including participating in the Santa Clara County briefings as well as monitoring advisories issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The City’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) has also been in contact with Stanford Health Care and other hospitals and clinics to coordinate on preparation and contingency planning.  

Cancelling or Postponing City Events

The City’s event and program cancellations and postponements approach includes evaluating events now through March 31, 2020. With the COVID-19 situation evolving worldwide, the City may expand the time period of its cancellation approach at any time. At this time, City Council meetings and Board and Commission meetings are proceeding as scheduled, though these meetings may see some adjustments to accommodate the Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance on social distancing.   The City’s consideration of cancelled or postponed events includes the following general guidelines and may include several other factors not listed. General guidelines include events with an estimated attendance of over 100 people, or the event attendance is unknown but could draw a larger attendance; events over 100 people could also be modified and continue if changes can accommodate social distancing guidance; events that typically attract at-risk populations including community members over the age of 50 to 80 and other groups at highest risk, which include community members over the age of 80 or those with preexisting health conditions such as lung disease or cancer.

The City is also evaluating on a case by case basis cancelling or postponing other events or programs with less than 100 people attending where the event cannot achieve social distancing recommended by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which means that attendees are not able to stay six feet from one another during the program/event. The City is also adjusting ticketing where possible to implement social distancing at certain events.  

The following City events and programs are cancelled or postponed:*

  • REVISED: XCAP Meeting: Wednesday, March 11 from 4-7 p.m. is cancelled
  • Rail Town Hall March Meetings: Thursday, March 12 from 6-8 p.m. at Palo Alto High School and March 26, 6-8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge
  • Silver Screenings: Thursday, March 12 event 
  • Document Shredding Event: Saturday, March 14, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. (noon) at the SMaRT Station (Sunnyvale)
  • Norooz Persian New Year Festival: Saturday, March 14 from 1-3 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center Auditorium
  • Palo Alto Masters Meet: Saturday, March 14 at Rinconada Pool
  • Art Center Foundation Members Day Trip to Sacramento: Saturday, March 14
  • Landscape Design 101- How to Get Started: Saturday, March 14 from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. (noon) at Mitchell Park Library, El Palo Alto Room 
  • Arbor Day Festival: Sunday, March 15 from 1-5 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center  
  • Sunday Robot Show: Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 29
  • Word on the Street Transportation Series: Thursday, March 19 from 6-9 p.m. at JLS Middle School
  • Sensory Storytime: Friday, March 20
  • Fire Station 3 Grand Opening and Open House: Saturday, March 21 from noon to 2 p.m. at Fire Station 3
  • Junior Museum and Zoo Family Sunday: Sunday, March 22
  • North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan Working Group Meeting: Tuesday, March 24 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at City Hall in the Community Room
  • ADUs Community Meeting: Wednesday, March 25 at the Art Center
  • Family Yoga: Friday, March 27
  • Life Skills Toolkit- Cooking and Nutrition: Friday, March 27
  • Minecraft Program: Sunday, March 27 at Mitchell Park Library
  • Children’s Theater Cabaret Fundraiser: Saturday, March 28
  • Racing Hearts 5K/10K Race: Cancelled by the event organizer, City is a co-sponsor. Sunday, March 29 at 7:30 a.m. in Downtown Palo Alto
  • Sustainability Community Workshop: Tuesday, March 31 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Mitchell Park Community Center
  • Family Storytime: Weekly events cancelled at Mitchell Park Library, Children’s Library, and Downtown Library locations
  • Infant Lapsit Baby Storytime: Weekly events cancelled at Mitchell Park Library
  • Intergenerational Storytime: Quarterly, 6-week sessions, last session on April 12. Senior and toddlers.
  • Russian Storytime: Weekly events cancelled at Mitchell Park Library
  • Wiggly Ones Baby Storytime: Weekly events cancelled at Rinconada Library and Mitchell Park Library

The following events or programs will be adjusted with revised locations, audience numbers/ticket sales reduced, or other approaches to follow Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance on social distancing:

  • REVISED: XCAP Meeting: Wednesday, March 18 from 4-7 p.m. location moved to Council Chambers at City Hall and Wednesday, March 25 from 4-7 p.m. location tentatively scheduled at the Palo Alto Art Center. These meetings may have future location changes or other adjustments to support social distancing, as needed.
  • Children’s Theatre-Outreach Production: Multiple Dates at Palo Verde Elementary
  • Palo Alto Children’s Theatre-Playhouse Beauty and the Beast: Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28 shows at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.

*As of March 10, 2020, and subject to change at anytime.

A list of cancelled or postponed events will be listed on the City’s dedicated webpage on the coronavirus situation at and will be updated as more details are known. The City’s event calendar is being updated to reflect cancelled or postponed events as needed.  

Anticipating Temporary City Operational and Service Changes or Modifications

The City has already implemented several operational changes in response to the COVID-19 public health risk, including supplying protective gear for field staff, expanding 911 dispatcher protocols to support Police, Fire, emergency medical first responders, and Utilities staff, providing more hand sanitizer stations and enhanced cleaning in public facilities.   The City is evaluating modifications to service delivery and other efforts to maintain City staffing levels and providing essential services through thoughtful planning for several impact scenarios. The City anticipates more details to be released later this week on longer-term planning and potential service delivery modifications.  

Informing the Community on the Latest Local Developments

The leading agency focused on public health and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak is the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. As of Monday, March 9, there are 32 confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County and they are anticipating more cases. There is one case in Palo Alto, that the City is aware of, because of a Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System (a federal agency) hospital transfer from another County in California to Palo Alto. This case is unique and not related to a community spread of the virus. Instead, this case is a contained hospital transfer of an infected veteran from one hospital to another.  Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance seeks to limit the community spread of COVID-19 and includes guidance for employers and the public to keep our community’s safe. 

Both Santa Clara County and San Mateo County are using 211 as a "call center" for persons with questions about COVID-19. Community members can also text "coronavirus" to 211211 for information and updates. There is also a public information phone number to gain updates by calling (408) 885-3980.

In addition, the City has set up a dedicated webpage and other communications efforts, including placing posters at high use public facilities and printed materials to help inform and provide tools to help keep our community safe.  

For more on recent coronavirus updates and other online resources, go to the City’s dedicated webpage on this issue at  

For more about the City of Palo Alto, go to


Palo Alto, known as the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley,” is home to 69,700 residents and nearly 100,000 jobs. Unique among city organizations, the City of Palo Alto operates a full-array of services including its own gas, electric, water, sewer, refuse and storm drainage provided at very competitive rates for its customers. The City of Palo Alto offers robust community amenities including 36 parks, 39 playgrounds, five community and youth centers, 41 miles of walking/biking trails and five libraries. The City also manages a regional airport and provides fire, police and emergency services. Palo Alto is an award-winning City recognized nationally as innovative and well-managed, one of a small number of California cities with a AAA bond rating. City services and performance also receive high marks from community members in the annual citizen survey conducted by the National Research Center.

As the global center of technology and innovation, Palo Alto is the corporate headquarters for many world-class companies and research facilities such as VMWare, Hewlett-Packard, IDEO, Tesla, and Skype. Home to Stanford University and a top-ranked public school system, Palo Alto also features beautiful and historic residential neighborhoods, vibrant shopping and retail districts. Palo Alto has a highly educated and culturally sophisticated citizenry that is actively engaged in making a difference both locally and globally.

For more information, visit the City of Palo Alto’s website at, or follow the City on Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Next Door and Instagram, by going to Sign-up for City newsletters by going to  


Sent By:

Meghan Horrigan-Taylor
Chief Communications Officer
City Manager's Office

Last Updated: March 10, 2020