November 7, 2020
Dear Neighbor,
Thank you to everyone who voted in the recent election. Today, we are reminded that that those basic values we strive to teach our childrenhonesty, kindness, and service to others—still matter.

I am full of hope that a new federal administration will take action to support local communities in our fight to control Covid-19 and reopen safely.
Please remember that we'll be holding a District 1 Community Safety Meeting TOMORROW, Sun., Nov. 8 to discuss Berkeley crime trends as well as strategies for enhancing personal and community safety:

Sun., Nov. 8
4-5:30 p.m.
To connect by phone:
+1-669-900-6833, 97790686913# 

Please RSVP by e-mailing my Legislative Aide Beth Gerstein with the subject line "Public Safety Zoom" at
Middle and High Schools Permitted to Reopen
On Thurs., Nov. 5, the City released the following news release:

Berkeley's Health Officer will give middle and high schools the option to open on Mon., Nov. 9 if they create and post site-specific plans that incorporate City criteria to reduce spread of Covid-19 among students, faculty and staff.
Schools seeking to open must require practices now familiar to all: face coverings, physical distancing, eliminating gatherings, staying home when sick, and increased hygiene and cleaning.

These measures reflect the reality of an easily spreading disease with no proven treatment nor vaccine: there will be cases in schools, but smart, science-based practices can reduce spread before and after someone tests positive.

Berkeley Public Health has created services to support school openings, including:
  • Expanded availability of systematic testing to teachers and staff
  • Creation of a six-part disease prevention training for schools
  • Requiring Public Health staff site visits
  • Providing continued technical assistance, including Q&A sessions with school staff

This Health Orderwhich parallels a separate health order for the rest of the countymeans that all grades will be able to resume school in Berkeley for the first time since a Bay Area-wide shut down on March 17.

"Covid-19 remains a threat, but science, data and the generally good adherence to public health guidance allows the opening of this socioemotional and educational priority for children," said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, Berkeley's Health Officer. "The daily preventive actions people took helped lower case rates. As more public activities open, those actions become even more critical."

Guidance for schools
Each school in Berkeley seeking to re-open must create a plan that complies with requirements outlined in the state's Industry Guidance for Schools and School-Based Programs as well as the City of Berkeley's Health Order.

This plan must be posted on a school's website and shared with their school community prior to reopening. As with elementary schools, which were given the option to open on Oct. 13, middle and high schools in Berkeley must:
  • Conduct systematic testing, regardless of symptoms, of all staff and volunteers at least once a month.
  • Ensure prompt testing and isolation of any symptomatic staff and student as well as quarantine for those who have been exposed to someone with Covid-19.
  • Meet state requirements on physical distancing by using strategies such as hybrid school schedules that allow only a subset of students on campus on any given day.
  • Designate at least two trained Covid-19 liaisons who will coordinate with the City of Berkeley on all Covid-19 related matters, including case investigation and contact tracing. Berkeley Public Health will support schools when cases emerge.

Healthy daily habits and smart choices take on greater importance
Each person's preventive actions accumulate across a community to strengthen our resilience to spread.

Wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and frequently washing your hands continue to be critical. As more options for public activities open, so do opportunities for spread of the virus. Rather than partaking in every activity available, try to stay within a budget of exposures.

Make choices that minimize riskavoiding confined spaces, crowds and close contact with those outside your household. When you choose one activity, make a tradeoff for what other activity you will forgo. If you get a haircut one week, you might sacrifice eating at a restaurant and get takeout the next evening instead.

To lower their overall risk budget, parents considering sending their kids to school should consider what other less important public activities to give up. Kids attending schoollike all other childrenshould not then have slumber parties or playdates.

"If we're not careful, our own behaviors can spread the virus," said Dr. Hernandez. "Having healthy daily habits and being selective about which low-risk activities you prioritize and which ones you forgo helps maintain options for public activities, including critical needs such as schools."

REMINDER: Permanent testing site now open
To help support the community, and especially schools, the City has opened a permanent testing kiosk at the Adult School parking lot (1701 San Pablo Ave.) in partnership with Curative, which had previously been working in the City on a pilot basis.
This walk-up site is open to the entire community and has reserved times to increase testing for teachers and staff.

You can make an appointment online.

People can also use a state-run South Berkeley site that's also coordinated through the City.
COVID-19 Resources
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. Anyone 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. You can 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.
My Website
For updates on community issues and links to City information resources, please visit my website:

This site is also where you can find an archive of all of my newsletters to date.

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COVID-19 Information Sources