May 20, 2020
Dear Neighbor,
I write to you in this tenth week of sheltering in place, with the nature of our new normal beginning to come into view. With no vaccine and no widely available safe and effective therapeutic treatment, Bay Area Health Officers have issued guidance to curb the spread of Covid-19. We each have the power to save lives by staying home as much as possible, wearing a cloth face mask for essential activities, and keeping six feet of physical distance from others.
Our City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez has issued a revised Shelter In Place Order that went into effect yesterday, Tues., May 19 . The new order moves Berkeley into “early Stage 2” of the Governor’s Resilience Roadmap for gradually reopening our economy—in light of local data showing flat or decreasing cases and hospitalizations, along with other local and state indicators of readiness. Early Stage 2 allows curbside retail, manufacturing, as well as logistics and warehousing to reopen with safety protocols.
It's good news that we're ready to move to early Stage 2; however, I want to be clear that the dangers of the virus remain and there is no end date for the new Shelter In Place Order. The Governor’s Resilience Roadmap also makes clear that some version of the statewide Stay-at-Home Order will remain in place until there are therapeutics to treat or vaccinate against Covid-19. This means that we must prepare mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for an indefinite period of our new normal: staying home as much as possible, wearing a cloth face mask for all essential activities , and keeping six feet of physical distance from others, good hand hygiene, among other precautions.

In this newsletter, you’ll find the following information:
  • Highlights of the Revised Shelter In Place Order
  • Understanding the Decision to Reopen Lower-Risk Workplaces
  • Scaling Up Our Test-Trace-Isolate Efforts
  • The Importance of Wearing a Cloth Face Mask
  • Brief Updates: Healthy Streets Initiative, Zoning Ashby & N. Berkeley BART Stations, Berkeley Restaurant Week To Go (May 15-24)
  • Covid-19 Resources
Highlights of the Revised Shelter In Place Order
Beginning Tues., May 19, lower-risk workplaces, including retail, manufacturing, as well as logistics and warehousing are allowed to reopen using local safety protocols.

The state also provides guidance:
Retail shops on Fourth St. can reopen for curbside pick-up and delivery.
Here’s a complete list of businesses permitted to operate using safety protocols. Businesses are required to post their safety protocol and are encouraged to post signs available in 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17.

As the Alameda County Health Officer described during a recent briefing call, we are moving away from the essential/non-essential distinction that was necessary to flatten the curve early on and towards a lower-risk/higher-risk framework for what is allowable as we gradually reopen with safety protocols.

Tennis and pickleball players will be pleased to know that these activities are now allowed with one other person who can be outside your household (singles only).

Finally, I know that many working parents are struggling to manage working from home with their caregiving responsibilities, along with the stress of living through a pandemic. Right now, our local Shelter In Place Order only allows childcare facilities to reopen for the children of those working for permitted businesses (following state safety guidance). For schools, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction recently said that the timeline for reopening will be determined by local school districts with guidance from public health officials. The uncertainty related to childcare and school reopenings can be stressful on families to say the least. I do want to note that both our local Shelter In Place Order and the state Stay-at-Home Order allow you to receive help at home from a babysitter or nanny who’s not a member of your household. The caregiver should adhere to basic prevention guidelines (i.e., handwashing for at least 20 seconds, physical distancing, staying home if feeling ill, etc.). 
Understanding the Decision to Reopen Lower-Risk Workplaces 
Beginning May 4, the City of Berkeley began its gradual reopening by allowing certain activities to resume with safety protocols, including construction, real estate and moving activities, outdoor businesses, child care for the children of essential workers and people conducting permitted outdoor business, and limited outdoor recreation activities. 

Because the incubation period for Covid-19 can be as long as 14 days, Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan has explained during briefing calls that cases and hospitalizations were monitored over the last two weeks in order to ensure that the May 4 changes did not lead to increased spread. Because cases and hospitalizations have remained flat, health officers determined that shifting to early Stage 2 was appropriate.

The decision to reopen lower-risk workplaces is based on six state indicators and five Bay Area indicators, as listed below. 

Six State Indicators
1) Ability to test, contact trace, isolate, and support the exposed
2) Ability to protect those at high risk for Covid-19
3) Surge capacity for hospital and health systems
4) Therapeutic development to meet the demand
5) Ability of businesses, schools, and childcare facilities to support physical distancing
6) Determination of when to reinstitute measures like Stay at Home 

Five Bay Area Indicators
1) The total number of cases in the community is flat or decreasing, and the number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 is flat or decreasing
2) We have sufficient hospital capacity to meet the needs of our residents
3) Sufficient COVID-19 viral detection tests are being conducted each day
4) We have sufficient case investigation, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine capacity
5) We have at least a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) available for all healthcare providers
Alameda County Progress on Five Bay Area Indicators
For Bay Area Indicator #1 related to cases and hospitalizations being flat or decreasing, we see this in the charts below from the county's data dashboard.
Daily Detected Covid-19 Cases in Alameda County
Alameda County Covid-19 Hospitalizations
While detected cases and hospitalizations are flat, the charts above also show us that we haven't extinguished Covid-19 in our community. On May 18, the county saw 64 new detected cases. As we reopen lower-risk workplaces, we must manage the risk of spread by using safety protocols . Moving forward, our Health Officers will continue to monitor the detected case and hospitalization data in order to ensure that there is sufficient hospital and surge capacity (Bay Area Indicator #2). Efforts are also underway to scale up our test-trace-isolate capacity (Bay Area Indicators #3 & #4), so we can interrupt Covid-19 transmission.
Scaling Up Our Test-Trace-Isolate Efforts
Through shared sacrifice, we have saved tens of thousands of lives across the Bay Area and maintained sufficient hospital capacity. As of May 13, Covid-19 positive or suspected cases are using 6% of total county hospital beds and 15% of total county Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds.
A Covid-19 testing lab. Photo: HM Treasury (Creative Commons  License ).
As part of our efforts to manage risk, both the City of Berkeley and Alameda County are scaling up testing capacity as well as the number of contract tracers, with a goal of reaching 90% of individuals who come into contact with a positive case so they can quarantine —thereby interrupting the chain of transmission.

Testing Capacity Goals
Earlier this month, the City of Berkeley announced that anyone who lives or works in Berkeley and has Covid-19 symptoms can get tested for free at the City of Berkeley testing site . If you have symptoms, please call the Covid-19 test screening line at 510-981-5380 Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In the last seven days, 51 tests per day were reported to the City of Berkeley, with a cumulative total of 2,024 tests reported since testing began. Our goal is to have more than 200 tests per day reported to the City of Berkeley and to be able to test all symptomatic individuals as well as asymptomatic individuals in congregate settings like nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Last week, I asked Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan about the prospect of testing members of the public who are asymptomatic. Due to technological and resource barriers, she said that it wasn't feasible to regularly test the general public. However, like Berkeley, the county is working toward testing all symptomatic individuals as well as asymptomatic individuals in congregate settings. As of today, the county is a third of the way to its goal of 3,100 tests per day. Last week, the county launched four new free testing sites

Training More Contact Tracers
The City of Berkeley is working to scale up its capacity to do contact tracing. This week, 34 staff members will participate in a UCSF Pandemic Workforce Training Academy

Alameda Couny has scaled up to 70 contact tracers with a goal of reaching 300. The county also plans to partner with community-based organizations and is accepting inquiries from volunteers who may be needed in the future (e-mail

The state is working to train 10,000 to 20,000 contact tracers who can track down exposed individuals, assess their ability to self-isolate and, if needed, refer them to public health departments for assistance.
The Importance of Wearing a Cloth Face Mask
As more people leave their homes in early Stage 2 of our gradual reopening, I want to emphasize how important it is to follow our Health Officer's Order to wear a cloth face mask for all those who are safely able to do so.

Along with keeping at least six feet of physical distance from others and maintaining good hand hygiene, this is something that is fully within our control.
Mona Lisa wears a face mask. Photo:"ODC Twist" by  FolsomNatural (Creative Common  License ).
A recent Atlantic article written by researchers makes a strong case for wearing cloth face masks to stop the spread of Covid-19:

  • Every infectious disease has a reproduction rate, called R. When it’s 1.0, that means the average infected person infects one other person. The 1918 pandemic flu had an R of 1.8, meaning one infected person infected, on average, almost two others. Covid-19’s ratein the absence of measures such as physical distancing and masksis estimated to be somewhere between 2 and 2.5. A disease dies out if its R falls below 1.0. The lower the number, the faster it dies out.

  • The effectiveness of mask-wearing depends on three things:
  1. The basic reproduction number, R, of the virus in a community;
  2. Masks’ efficacy at blocking transmission; and
  3. The percentage of people wearing masks.

  • Models show that if 80% of people wear masks that are 60% effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease. 

Please do your part by wearing a cloth face mask when you need to leave home. If you don't have a supply already, you can make them at home or order some from a local business .
Brief Updates: Healthy Streets Initiative, Zoning Ashby & N. Berkeley Stations, and Berkeley Restaurant Week To Go
  • Healthy Streets Initiative: The City is preparing to launch a Healthy Streets Initiative this week to give bicyclists and pedestrians more space to physically distance. The initiative will start with a soft closure of 1.5 miles of bike boulevards.
  • Zoning Ashby & N. Berkeley Stations: Mayor Arreguín, Councilmember Bartlett, and myself have selected a diverse group of community members to serve on a Community Advisory Group, which will provide input to the Planning Commission on zoning the Ashby and N. Berkeley BART stations for development in compliance with state law AB 2923. The first virtual meeting is scheduled for Mon., June 8 from 6-8 p.m. with forthcoming details on how to access the meeting remotely available HERE.

  • Berkeley Restaurant Week To Go: Support our local restaurants during Berkeley Restaurant Week To Go (May 15-24) with price points at $15, $20, or $25 per person.
COVID-19 Resources
Covid-19 Teleconferences

  • Listen to the Mayor's Virtual Town Hall with City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley and Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez (with Special Guest State Senator Nancy Skinner) from May 16 HERE.

  • State Senator Nancy Skinner has held a number of Telephone Town Halls on various COVID-19 topics, which are available HERE, along with other resources.

Give and Receive Help

General Resources. The Mayor’s Office has created a resource guide , with information about parking enforcement, senior hours at local grocery stores and other information.

The state COVID-19 website is where you can get up to speed on what’s happening statewide, learn how you can safely help, and find out what resources and assistance may be available, such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for business owners, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and others who aren't usually eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits).

A Berkeley Mutual Aid website has been created for neighbors to offer and receive assistance, such as with grocery shopping or phone calls to neighbors.

Supporting Businesses . You can donate to the Berkeley Relief Fund to support low-income tenants, small businesses and non-profits, and non-profit arts organizations or donate directly to a local business . The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has created a resource guide for businesses .

Eviction Protections. If you have any questions about our local residential and commercial eviction moratorium or housing retention grants for low-income tenants, more information is available HERE . The Council has also passed an urgency ordinance to prevent commercial landlords from increasing rent by more than 10% (see Item #8 HERE ).

Price Gouging . A nyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or has information about potential price gouging, can file a complaint with the District Attorney's Office by emailing   or calling (510) 383-8600.

Donate Blood. The City of Berkeley, the Berkeley Unified School District, and the American Red Cross are sponsoring a blood drive on Wed., June 17 . You can make an appointment HERE . You can also donate blood at the Oakland Blood Donation Center (6230 Claremont Ave. in Oakland) where they are using physical distancing protocols, disinfecting between donors, and taking temperatures of donors and staff. Please visit the  Red Cross website  to make an appointment before visiting. 

Donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the City or through my office.

Food Resources.

  • provides low-cost meals to individuals at high risk of developing complications from Covid-19, and they are in need of volunteers to help deliver meals.

  • Information on additional food resources, such as CalFresh, WIC, and school meals, is available HERE.

Resources for Mental Health and Wellness.

  • The Domestic Violence Resource Guide for Alameda County is available HERE.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please always feel free to reach out to me: or 510-981-7110.
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