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Response to Letter from North Fair Oaks Community



San Mateo County Health is grateful for the thoughtful letter from leaders, stakeholders, and concerned residents of North Fair Oaks. Sustained dialogue between the health department and members of the public is essential to protecting public health, and certainly this pandemic has brought us all together, deeply and passionately, around our shared goals.

Our responses to the Mercury News and to other media outlets at the time were to address narrowly focused questions about case numbers and their reassignment from Redwood City and Menlo Park to North Fair Oaks. As we described to the media, we changed a methodology for geocoding cases, which resulted in revising the case numbers upward for North Fair Oaks, while decreasing the numbers for Menlo Park and Redwood City. The total case numbers remained the same, and our public health response – the measures for communicating to residents, providing resources for testing, and offering financial and practical support for isolation and quarantine – were not affected by the presentation of data on our website. 

We regret that the data on the dashboard fed misunderstanding about the impact of COVID-19 on the North Fair Oaks community, as well as the perception that we public health officials were insensitive to or sought to minimize the very real pain the community continues to experience. 

The well-being of the North Fair Oaks community is incredibly important to San Mateo County leaders, and we remain committed to prioritizing the protection of North Fair Oaks in all that we do in our public health response to the pandemic. We recognize the disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has had on communities that were already shouldering significant health inequities. We appreciate the ongoing advocacy of the North Fair Oaks Council and North Fair Oaks residents.