Covid-19 Update #7
April 18, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

One month into the "Stay at Home" Order, the fears that our lives would be disrupted and changed and that the world would be a different place when we re-emerge have become reality.

Your cooperation in following the suggested physical distancing and hand washing regulations, in combination with staying at home except for essential activity, has had an impact on slowing the rate of infection. Your behavior has positively influenced the course of the pandemic here in Berkeley, and for that I am very grateful.

I am also very appreciative of your efforts to help and look out for each other during this difficult time. Neighbors are sharing food, shopping, making masks, and checking in on each other. Your generosity to those in need is impressive.

However, despite all of our efforts, the number of confirmed infections in Berkeley continues to go up every day. Although there is talk in Washington and Sacramento about returning to normal, we are nowhere close to being out of the woods. It will probably be several weeks and maybe months before we can resume a lifestyle without restrictions. To help ease the transition and continue to protect the public's safety, our Health Officer issued an order late yesterday that makes wearing a mask mandatory when visiting essential businesses.

Please call my office, 510 981-7160, if you need assistance with anything.

Take care, stay well.
Here is the statement from Berkeley's Health Officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, MD, MPH.
A message from City of Berkeley Health Officer
Dr. Lisa Hernandez, MD., MPH
On Friday, April 17, I issued an Order mandating the use of face coverings for everyone, especially customers and workers in essential businesses so that infected people without symptoms don’t unintentionally spread COVID-19.

While we have seen many people cover their faces in public since the CDC and Bay Area Health Officers first recommended face coverings two weeks ago, it has not been enough.

While people should follow this mandate immediately, we are providing a grace period on enforcement until 8am on Wednesday, April 22.

Face coverings are not a substitute for staying home, staying 6 feet apart, and washing your hands regularly. A covering over mouth and nose is an additional tool in our arsenal of weapons to fight COVID-19.

No end date has been set for when this requirement will end, so prepare accordingly. This order applies to everyone in the City of Berkeley. Health Officers in Contra Costa, San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma counties as well as the rest of Alameda County have also issued similar orders this week.

Why cover your face?

Masks play an important role in combating COVID-19, which spreads easily among people less than 6 feet from each other . This new Coronavirus travels through the air by sneezing, coughing or just talking near another person . You can be infected even if you have no symptoms. Additionally, those who do become visibly ill can be contagious as early as 48 hours before they show symptoms.

When you’re required to wear a mask

Everyone must cover their face when out in public such as visiting an essential business, seeking healthcare, or while using shared transportation, including buses, BART, taxis, rideshare, or paratransit.

Workers at essential businesses must cover their face most of the time while at work, including:
  • when interacting with the public
  • in any space visited by the public
  • anywhere food is prepared
  • in common areas
  • in any room where other people are present

Drivers of public transit, ride share or taxis must wear a mask the entire time they are in the vehicle, regardless of whether or not passengers are present.

You don’t need to cover your face when home alone or when around people you live with.

Very few are exempt

There are some very specific people who do not have to wear a face covering:
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering.
  • Any worker to the extent wearing a face covering creates a safety hazard at work under established health and safety guidelines.

Children

Face coverings are optional for children 3-12 years old.
Children 2 years or younger should not wear masks, as they may create a risk of suffocation.
Parents and caregivers must supervise use of face coverings by children to avoid misuse.

Outdoor exercise

You’re not required wear a mask while exercising outdoors, but you should carry one with you and put it on when it is not possible to stay 6 feet apart from others.

When exercising, take extra precautions to stay away from others around you, such as crossing the street to avoid sidewalks with pedestrians.

Running and bicycling causes people to expel airborne particles more forcefully, which makes the usual minimum 6 feet distance less adequate.

Selecting and caring for your mask

Your mask should be made from cloth, fabric, or other soft material, and cover the lower part of your face only, including your nose and mouth.

Don’t use surgical masks or N-95s – medical grade masks are needed for health care workers and first responders.

Simple do-it-yourself face coverings are fine. You can improvise a face covering using a scarf, bandana, neck gaiter, t-shirt, or towel. The CDC has created tutorials on how to make a mask at home:

Your mask should be comfortable and allow you to breathe normally through your nose. Make sure it fits well – you should avoid touching your face or adjusting your mask once you’ve put it on.

Wash face coverings after each use.

Efforts to slow the spread are working

As of today, Berkeley residents have been under a stay home order for one month. I’m grateful to everyone making sacrifices to protect our community. I know how hard it is to see our daily lives disrupted, to not be able to enjoy favorite activities, and to be separated from friends and family.

Data shows that our collective action is working. We are slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area. We need to take extra steps to protect ourselves and especially our essential workers who risk exposure day in and day out.

The formula for keeping our community safe is simple.
  • Stay home.
  • Cover your face.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Keep your distance.

Thank you to all who have been, and continue to practice these measures.
Lisa B. Hernandez, MD, MPH
Instructions for a Different Kind of Mask - No Sewing!
Access To Groceries
A number of stores have added extended shopping hours for older adults or those with an underlying health condition have grown. Below is the current list of designated hours for local store:

  • Andronico's: 7-9am Tuesday and Thursdays
  • Berkeley Bowl: 8-10am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Piedmont Grocery: 9-10am every day for those 65 or older
  • Safeway: 7-9am Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Target: 8-9am Wednesdays for older adults and those with underlying health conditions
  • Trader Joe's: 8-9am every day
  • Whole Foods: 8-9am every day for those 60 or older

Local Efforts to Bring Food and Supplies to Older Adults and Vulnerable Residents

The Meals on Wheels program continues to operate, providing home-delivered, well balanced meals to Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville homebound older adults.

If you are 60 years of age or older, unable to prepare a meal, and have no one available to prepare a meal for you, you may be eligible. Call (510) 981-5240 to learn more.

HelpBerkeley.org is a volunteer based non-profit organization that was created to support the Berkeley community in this time of need. Their mission is to deliver fixed-price affordable meals to individuals at-risk for COVID-19. Their approach provides incremental revenue to local restaurants, helping them keep their doors open.

If you live in the Berkeley Hills, District 6 resident Rhonda Gruska is coordinating delivery of vegetables from local farms. You can either pick up orders at a location in Park Hills, or request home drop-off. For further information, email Rhonda at phfarmbox@gmail.com .
Reliable Sources for Information
Berkeley Relief Fund
Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously voted to create a Berkeley Relief Fund with $3 million in City funds to support low-income residents, small businesses, and non-profit arts organizations impacted by COVID-19.

The council is now going out into the community and encouraging people to contribute to this fund. I urge you to join me in making a donation of any amount to this important cause.
Emergency Notifications
AC Alert  will be Berkeley's primary emergency alerting system for the public. It is one of the tools the City of Berkeley uses to communicate emergency information and instructions to the community. AC Alert can send:
  • Voice alerts to phones
  • SMS text messages
  • Email
  • TTY/TDD messages
   Listed AT&T "land lines" are automatically included to receive voice messages from AC Alert for emergency warnings. Community members must  sign up  to receive voice or text alerts on cell phones, VoIP phones, unlisted phones, TTY/TDDs or through email.

   If you want to receive emergency alerts and updates,  sign up  for AC Alert.
311
  • Need a new refuse can?
  • Have a favorite pothole you want filled?
  • Want to report illegal dumping?

CALL 311
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
(510) 981-7160