New Actions to Enhance Public Safety and Community Support

New Actions to Enhance Public Safety and Community Support

For Immediate Release

March 15, 2020

Palo Alto establishes a community support call center and activates its Emergency Operations Center

PALO ALTO, CA —The City of Palo Alto announced today two new actions to enhance its comprehensive COVID-19 public safety response including the activation of the Emergency Operations Center and establishing a community support call center.

These new actions follow several other approaches announced last week such as facility closures, services changes, cancellation of events and programs, and other efforts already in effect in response to the fast changing COVID-19 public health situation affecting so many cities, counties, states and countries.

“These new actions seek to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, enhance customer service and maintain essential services,” said Ed Shikada, city manager of the City of Palo Alto. “Activating our emergency operations center will focus coordination with community and business strategic partners, help our staff teams continue to provide essential services, and continue our coordinated public safety response because of the heightened public health emergency we are all facing.”

The City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated as of today and modified to ensure social distancing with a key priority of maintaining essential services such as police and fire services. As an adjunct to the EOC, the City is quickly establishing a community support call center and anticipates it will be up and running early this week. To kick off this phase of coordination, Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine is convening a meeting of the Citizen Corps Council, The Citizen Corps Council (CCC) integrates government and community institutions to coordinate actions across sectors. Members of the CCC include Stanford University and Healthcare, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Palo Alto Unified School District, as well as business and volunteer organizations.

These newest actions follow a series of actions announced last week in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19 including closure of its libraries, the Art Center, recreation facilities such as the Mitchell Park Community Center and Teen Center, Lucie Stern Community Center, the Junior Museum and Zoo, the Children’s Theatre and Rinconada Pool. Access to City Hall and the City’s Development Center will be by appointment only starting Monday, March 16. This unprecedented decision was made following a mandatory legal order issued this morning by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department prohibiting the gathering of more than 100 persons. The Order also bans gatherings of 35 to 100 people unless specific conditions are met such as ensuring no one that is sick is in attendance, providing adequate supplies for proper hand washing and social distancing is enforced. The City has cancelled, postponed or adjusted events and programs and a new list of event cancellations will be released tomorrow and available here. This list is subject to change at any time.

Last week Shikada announced that Palo Alto issued a proclamation of emergency as an important step to enable flexibility in how Palo Alto can respond to this changing public health situation. The City Council is set to consider ratification of the proclamation of emergency tomorrow at its meeting. Several other services changes were announced and continue to evolve as new State and County directives are announced.

Enhanced library online services is still available 24/7 and curbside book holds will be available at all library locations by appointment only. Open Space Preserves and parks will remain open at this time with planned enhanced cleaning at playgrounds.

Finally, the City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, March 16 will proceed with significant modifications in place. The public is encouraged to submit comments via email to and to watch the live broadcast of the meeting here or on TV Channels 26 or 29 as the preferred way to share your input to the City Council. Other modifications can be found online at

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 Saturday, March 15, 2020 there were 114 confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County and they are anticipating more cases.

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

 Sent By:

Meghan Horrigan-Taylor
Chief Communications Officer
City Manager's Office
(650) 329-2607 

Last Updated: March 15, 2020