Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Public Health Alert

December 17, 2020
Dear friends and neighbors,

==I just received the following News from the City of Berkeley and want to alert you to the current status of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region.

==I will be following up in a few days' time with additional information on vaccinations and resources.

==Taking all precautions to stay safe is now critical, given the lack of hospital capacity.
Take care,
Regional Hospital ICU Capacity Levels
Intensive care beds shrink to critical level, imposing restrictions across most of state

Local rules remain but are extended to at least Jan. 7

==A surge of people critically ill with COVID-19 disease now leaves the Bay Area with fewer than 13 percent of intensive care beds available, a threshold that places the entire region under state restrictions already in place in Berkeley.

==After Berkeley’s Health Officer and others enacted these rules as local orders to slow down the surge, emergency state orders will now mandate restrictions covering 11 Bay Area counties to remain in place until at least January 7. Over 98 percent of Californians are now affected by the state order.

==The emergency, temporary measures outlined in the state order affect industries ranging from restaurants, which are limited to take-out and delivery, to hair salons and personal care services, which will remain closed. Everyone who can telecommute must do so to protect those who cannot.

==ICU capacity is one of the final impacts of a cascading set of events set in motion by this virus. Many infected people have no symptoms, making it seem benign, but nonetheless account for 50 percent of all COVID-19 infections nationwide. This quick spread casts a net so wide that just those with severe illness now leave the entire state’s ICU capacity at just 4.1 percent.

==We each may be unknowing carriers and spreaders. We also each hold the power to control the spread.

==Stay home to save lives. When out for an essential task, wear a mask and don’t gather with others.

==“COVID-19 threatens us now like never before,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, Health Officer for the City of Berkeley. “Collective action combined with these emergency measures have the potential to blunt this surge and allow a quicker recovery and re-opening of activities.”

Full impact of surge not yet known

==The proposed end date of the state order is Jan. 7, but that requires ICU capacity being more than 15 percent in the region encompassing the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma.

==This surge does not yet reflect the full impact of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings. It can take two weeks for the virus to be detectable by a test or for symptoms to emerge after an exposure. Hospitalizations typically follow two to three weeks later.

==If available ICU beds remain below 15 percent capacity, the orders will remain in place and will be reviewed by the state on a weekly basis.

Act to increase safety, health

==Christmas, Hanukkah, Día de los Reyes, Kwanzaa and other end of year celebrations provide a temptation to gather with friends and relatives.

==Avoiding gatherings increases your safety. Take care of your health, both emotionally and physically:

  • During this period of extreme threat, connect with loved ones virtually instead of in-person.
  • Saying no to loved ones is never easy. We have strategies to help navigate difficult conversations when declining invitations or canceling plans with loved ones.
  • Don’t delay needed medical or dental care.

==As small numbers of health care workers in acute care hospitals started to get a first dose of vaccine this week, we also see signs of hope. Doing what we can to prevent those hospitals from being overwhelmed is essential.

==“Every mask worn and every gathering avoided is a chance to break the escalating growth of cases and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Hernandez. “The more we all act, the more quickly we save lives and recover. Our future together holds promise.”
COVID-19 Hospitalizations are Higher Than Ever
Explore case, testing, and hospitalization data on our COVID-19 dashboard.
Save Lives, Stay Home
==Watch and share this 90-second video explaining the Regional Stay at Home Order and what it means for Berkeley.
Move Holiday Celebrations Online
==COVID-19 transmission is too high right now to gather safely. Use phone or video calls to connect instead. Nervous about canceling holiday plans? We have strategies to help with having the "COVID chat" with friends and family.
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.
  • 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