Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

Sunday Update: 175 cases, 3 deaths from COVID-19 in Contra Costa County

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

As of Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Contra Costa Health Services is reporting a total of 168 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths from the virus in the county. The totals are updated daily and based on preliminary reporting. Numbers may change based on additional findings.

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WIC Services in Contra Costa County available by phone

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Benefits Auto-Issued for the Month of March

On Thursday evening, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide shelter-in-place order for all Californians, except certain essential employees and residents acquiring necessities, such as food, prescriptions, and health care.

WIC provides healthy foods and support services to families.  If your income has been affected by recent events, and you are pregnant, recently had a baby, or have an infant or child under the age of five, you may be qualified to receive WIC services.  Applying is easy and quick.  You will receive your food benefits within a few days. You can apply online at cchealth.org/wic or call 1 (800) 414-4WIC.

WIC food benefits are considered an essential service. We will strive to continue to serve our community during this time under the governor’s and local Health Officer’s order.  Currently, we are providing all WIC services over the phone, including new enrollments.  To protect you and our WIC staff, all in-person appointments are suspended at this time.  Please stay at home.  The new WIC Card and WIC app make it easy for you to access your benefits electronically.

Community members should call their local WIC offices to enroll or certify, obtain future food benefits, reschedule, get breastfeeding help, or to get questions answered.

  • Concord & Crossroad WIC: (925) 646-5370
  • Brentwood WIC: (925) 513-6880
  • Pittsburg WIC: (925) 431-2460
  • San Pablo WIC: (510) 942-4000

Please note that California WIC started monthly auto issuance of benefits and extended some certifications for those who were eligible.  This means if you have a WIC card, you may already have your benefits pre-loaded.  You can check your California WIC app for benefits.

If you have any additional questions, please contact your local WIC program at 1 (800) 414-4WIC.  For further Covid-19-related information, please visit the county website at:  cchealth.org or CDPH website.

WIC and Contra Costa Health Services are committed to providing the individuals and communities we serve with high quality, comprehensive, community-directed care that is accessible to all and culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Please note that WIC is safe to use and does not affect immigration status for anyone who is currently in the U.S.  WIC is not considered a part of public charge.  We are here to help!

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Contra Costa, 6 other Bay Area jurisdictions order labs testing for COVID-19 to report more comprehensive testing data to State and local authorities

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

High Quality Data Essential for Combatting the Spread of COVID-19

Joint Press Release

Martinez, CA – Seven Bay Area jurisdictions are taking a unified, regional step to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On March 24, the Public Health Officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, with the City of Berkeley, announced an order with new reporting requirements for laboratories that test for the novel coronavirus. Laboratories must report results of tests for all residents of each jurisdiction to the ordering health care provider and the appropriate state and local health officials.

Currently, labs report only positive results, making it difficult for public health officials to know how many people are being tested overall. The new order requires laboratories to report all positive, negative, and inconclusive results, and information that allows health officials to better locate the person tested. The more comprehensive information will improve health officials’ understanding of the rates of infection and the location of possible infection clusters

Growing availability of testing through commercial and academic laboratories expands the overall testing capacity beyond small, specialized public health laboratories. The public health laboratory network offers only limited testing for emerging infections such as COVID-19 as other commercial and academic laboratory sectors come on-line. Because of the limited capacity of public health laboratories and the absence of further reporting requirements of private laboratories, the current percentage of cases that are detected through testing is important, but reflects only a small portion of the total number of people infected in our jurisdictions.

“This order will ensure public health officials regionally and across the state have access to the information we need to understand, predict, and combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. “Commercial and academic laboratories are important partners in providing testing to our community. Receiving this critical information from those labs will help local health departments respond to COVID-19 during this unprecedented time.”

The laboratory reporting order follows new data of increasing local transmission of COVID-19, including 930 confirmed cases with 19 deaths shared by the seven jurisdictions. The Bay Area’s total count of 930 confirmed COVID-19 cases is more than half of California’s case count. This does not account for the rapidly increasing number of assumed cases of community transmission.

Expanding reporting beyond positive results to include timely reporting of negative and inconclusive results allows local health officials to better understand whether there are areas of the community that are experiencing more intense transmission and project future trends in in the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Health Officer, City & County of San Francisco. “By sharing high quality test result data at scale, state and local health authorities can better track COVID-19, predict its spread, and better focus public resources to end this global pandemic.”

For more information about COVID-19 activities in these areas, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, or Berkeley COVID-19 websites.

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Supervisors hear call for public donations to fight COVID-19; county records first death

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Screenshot of Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors virtual, online meeting on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Hold online, virtual meeting; homeless population increases 43% in county

County staff stay six feet apart in the Board meeting room speak with members of the board during the virtual meeting. Video screenshot.

By Daniel Borsuk

Forced to meet remotely in an inaugural teleconference board meeting Tuesday, Contra Costal County Board of Supervisors learned the county is lean on supplies to combat the rising COVID-19 pandemic.

Circumstances are getting so dire, Contra Costa Health Services officials have put out the call for donations from the public for surgical protective equipment and supplies for healthcare providers as concerns emerge the county cannot deliver an adequate amount of medical gear and supplies for emergency workers to be adequately protected while treating those potentially affected by COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth told supervisors 71 county residents now have contracted COVID-19 and one person has died, an increase from 10 COVID-19 cases when Roth released her initial report to the Supervisors 21 days ago on March 3. Twenty-two persons are currently waiting for lab test results, reported Roth.

When Supervisors individually met via teleconference, Contra Costa Health Services along with six other Bay Area medical entities had earlier announced a unified, regional program designed to combat the spread of COVID-19 by ordering laboratories testing for COVID-19 to report comprehensive testing data to local and state authorities.

In addition, the county is stepping up the wide gap in procuring medical supplies and gear for health care workers. “We are making preparations for more people to become sick,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer.

County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, speaks with Board Chair Candace Andersen during the virtual meeting. Video screenshot.

A call has gone out to the public from Contra Costa Health Services to donate protective medical supplies for health care workers. Those supplies include eye protection including goggles and face shields, antibacterial and disinfecting wipes, typically alcohol or bleach based, excluding baby wipes. The county also needs N-95 and surgical masks in unopened containers, and disposable medical gowns.

The county has designated three donation centers that will be open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The donation centers are at West County, 151 Linus Pauling Dr., Hercules; Central County, 1750 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill; and East County, 4545 Delta Fair Blvd., Antioch.

County Administrator David Twa said the County has started to buy motel rooms nearby medical work sites so tired and overworked emergency workers can get sleep and avoid having to travel home during the nationwide health emergency.

“Some people say this COVID-19 pandemic is going to dip into our reserves. Well, we have already seen COVID-19 dip into our reserves,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill who was frustrated with the likely fiscal impact as well as the technical problems that flared up during the two-hour supervisors’ teleconference meeting. Mitchoff requested that a better teleconference program replace the current program.

Supervisors are expected to begin their review of the proposed 2020-2021 fiscal year budget via teleconference at next week’s board meeting.

Homeless Population Increases 43 Percent

In other business, Lavonna Martin, director of the Contra Costa County Health, Housing and Homeless Services, informed supervisors that the county’s homeless population in 2019 increased 43 percent in two years. Based on a department survey there were 2,295 homeless persons counted in 2019 in comparison to 1,607 in 2017. In 2018, there were 2,234 homeless persons.

The 2019 report indicates 1,398 persons are in the 25 to 54-year-old age bracket. The survey found that 165 persons were 62 years old or older.

Sixty-three percent of the families that are homeless can be served by available shelters with 201 beds, but only 28 percent of the single adults can be served by shelters, according to the study.

Psychiatric Emergency Service Project

Supervisors gave the go ahead for the Public Health Commission to conduct public hearings on the proposed remodel project for the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center’s over-used Psychiatric Emergency Services – PES – located in the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez.

Current conditions at the PES are deemed to be a danger to patients, to the general public.

The objectives of the PES project are to separate children, ages 7 through 12, and adolescents, ages 13 through 17 years, from adult patients, and provide a larger dedicated space more conducive to a therapeutic environment to better support youth and their families, the addition of a confidential triage space at the entrance of the PES, and expansion of treatment space for adults.

Supervisors were shown three project options. Option 1 would cost $3.7 million and add 2,101 square feet to the existing 5,370 square foot facility. Option 2, the recommended option, would cost $4,920,968 and would add 2,265 square feet to the current facility, and Option 3 would cost $8,332.471 to add 3,499 square feet to the existing facility.

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First coronavirus-related death confirmed in Contra Costa County, confirmed cases now at 42

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christ Farmitano speaks during a press conference on Friday, March 20, 2020 as Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Deputy Health Officer, Contra Costa Health Officer waits to speak. Screenshot of YouTube video.

“More confirmed cases does not mean we are losing ground.”; “Go out with your friends, your family, go on a hike…” – County Health Officer;  “It’s up to each city to make a determination with regard to enforcement.” – Chair of the Board of Supervisors

Coronavirus. CDC image.

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has confirmed the county’s first confirmed death linked to COVID-19.

The patient died Thursday in a hospital in the county. The Contra Costa resident was in their 70’s and had a pre-existing condition that put them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and a history of recent overseas travel.

A media briefing by county officials to update the public was held this morning.

“Today we regret to announce the first death in Contra Costa County caused by the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, County Health Officer. “This person passed away at a hospital in our county on Thursday. They were in their 70’s and they had a condition that placed them at risk of serious illness, and they had recently traveled outside of the country.”

The individual traveled from Europe, but those were all the details he would provide. “Unfortunately, we do anticipate more deaths in Contra Costa County,” Farnitano said.

“This death underscores the urgent need for all Contra Costa residents to follow the stay at home order, maintain social distancing and the state order just issued by Governor Newsom, last night,” he stated. “Novel coronavirus is dangerous for older adults and people with certain medical conditions, including heart or lung disease, diabetes and those with weak immune systems.”

“We believe that by following these orders we can reduce the spread of the virus, right now in our community and that will save lives,” Dr. Farnitano continued. “The situation is very serious in Contra Costa. We expect more confirmed cases as our testing expands. So far, Contra Costa Public Health has confirmed 42 cases in our community. We believe that aggressive testing can help, and we are ramping up our testing efforts on a daily basis.”

Most testing is being done by private labs.

“Our public health lab is performing between 40 to 100 tests per day, but that’s a small percentage of the total testing being done across the county, right now,” he stated.

“As we’re expanding our testing, we really want to get to the point we’re able to test everyone who has symptoms,” Dr. Farnitano said. “We’re trying to prioritize our public health lab which can do rapid testing and get results in 24 hours or less to those folks we’re most concerned about.”

“The private labs can test anyone who has symptoms,” he continued. “The more folks we test with symptoms then the more we’re going to be able to understand the spread within our community, and more able to isolate more effectively those who test positive.”

“More confirmed cases does not mean we are losing ground,” he stated. “It means we are sharpening our focus and gathering data that will help us through this emergency.”

“As always, the best way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene and social distancing,” Farnitano shared. “Because COVID-19 is new humans have no immunity to it and there is no vaccine.”

He then repeated the ways to protect yourself, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face.

“If you are ill, it is imperative you stay home, even if you’re an essential worker,” Dr. Farnitano concluded.

Candace Andersen, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors spoke next.

“We recognize this order is disruptive. We would not ask any of you to do this if we didn’t think it was important,” she said. “During this difficult time, we are continuing to provide county services, virtually. We have county employees working from home, remotely, in offices and away from the public who can still assist you. Please go to the county’s website at contracosta.gov for the most updated information resources.”

“I want to assure you that Contra Costa is doing all it can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and reduce its impact,” Andersen continued. “The county’s emergency operations center has been activated and is slowing the virus and is now the primary focus of our local government actions in Contra Costa.”

“You can visit cchealth.org/coronavirus or call our help line at 1-844-729-8410 if you have any questions about this order and the virus,” she added.

Dr. Farnitano encouraged county residents to go out and exercise and take a hike in the East Bay parks.

“We do want to encourage people to get outside and exercise and enjoy our beautiful, natural setting in the East Bay,” he said. “Go out with your friends, your family, go on a hike, but stay six feet apart. So, do it safely.”

Asked about local enforcement and people going outside, “It’s certainly not recommended unless you can really do it from a safe distance,” Andersen responded, “It’s up to each city to make a determination with regard to enforcement.”

Specifically, about golfing she said, it’s up to each city “whether or not to say you can’t golf or not.”

“Clearly if you’re golfing with members of your household and you’re staying six feet apart from everyone else, I think that works,” Andersen shared. “But if you’re meeting up with your buddies and you all live in different households and you’ve all been out doing your essential shopping and other things, you have a good chance of spreading the virus, if you get together in that close circumstance. We expect people to use their good judgment and take this seriously.”

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White Pony Express continues food deliveries to families who use school food pantries

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Despite school closures

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, almost all Contra Costa County schools are now closed for the protection of students. Despite this, White Pony Express (WPE), the food rescue nonprofit based in Pleasant Hill, will continue to deliver food to students and families being served by WPE’s “School Food Pantry Program.” Under this Program, WPE has been delivering fresh, surplus food to eleven free-lunch schools in the county. Since the schools are now closed, WPE will deliver the food to a nearby community center or church where families can still obtain it. Many of these families rely on this food to make ends meet.

Need for School Food Pantry Programs

Over 100,000 students in Contra Costa County, or 40%, qualify for the free lunch program. The goal of the School Pantry Program is to help eliminate hunger and increase students’ academic success so they can contribute more fully to the communities in which they live. Helen Jones, WPE’s Food Rescue Operations Manager says, “The families we serve through this program have

demanding challenges throughout the month. Many of the participants receive food stamps which only cover a portion of a month’s worth of food. The food that WPE provides to the schools we serve not only provides nutrition. It provides hope.”

Currently, WPE’s eleven school pantries are set up in schools located in Antioch, Bay Point, Martinez, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo. This year WPE’s school pantries will deliver in excess of 415,000 meals of quality, nutritious food. WPE plans to open new pantries in 2020, but

continuing the Program will depend on finding sustainable funding.

Institution of New Health Protocols

Based upon guidelines issued by the state and county, WPE will be incorporating new health guidelines to support state and local efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. These protocols (hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, gloves, social distancing, etc.) will be made a part of all aspects of WPE’s food and clothing operations.

“It is important for the public and our volunteers to know that WPE will be implementing strict cleanliness standards so that our valuable programs can continue safely,” says Mary Brooks, WPE’s Executive Director. “And the families at the schools we are serving should know that WPE is preparing and delivering this surplus food in accordance with these high standards.”

ABOUT White Pony Express: WPE is a volunteer powered 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Pleasant Hill, CA, which helps people move from the margins to the mainstream by providing free food and clothing in a loving and respectful manner.

Dr. Carol Weyland Conner founded WPE in September 2013 when she was troubled that with such as an abundance of food, many thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Out of this insight, the Food Rescue program was born. In a little over 6 years, WPE has rescued and delivered more than 10.5 million pounds (equivalent to 8,750,000 meals) of fresh, nutritious food, free of charge, that would otherwise go to waste.

In 2014 the White Pony General Store was added to provide high quality clothing, toys, and books to the underserved in our communities – all free of charge. Since that time, the General Store has given away over 512,000 items to those in need.

If you’d like to contribute to WPE’s School Food Pantry Program or its other programs, you can do so by visiting WPE’s website at www.whiteponyexpress.org/donate-funds. Those who wish to volunteer can sign up at www.whiteponyexpress.org/volunteer.

For more on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org.

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Contra Costa County social services to close public lobbies due to COVID-19

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department to Continue Delivering Services While Taking Steps to Help Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

By Tish Gallegos, Community/Media Relations, Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD)

Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD) will close lobbies in seven buildings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in its public spaces. Community members can still access the services and benefit programs the department provides, however EHSD is encouraging they do so in ways that limit exposure, such as through phone appointments or online applications. EHSD is restricting access to its public lobbies effective Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice, affecting programs such as CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal and General Assistance at the following locations:

 

Location Services
400 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and General Assistance applications.
4545 Delta Fair Blvd., Antioch

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and General Assistance applications; Welfare-to-Work; continuing CalWORKs eligibility assistance.
3105 Willow Pass Rd., Bay Point

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal applications
151 Sand Creek Rd., Brentwood

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal applications
1305 MacDonald Ave., Richmond

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and General Assistance applications; Welfare-to-Work; continuing CalWORKs eligibility assistance.
1535 Fred Jackson Way, Richmond

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal applications
151 Linus Pauling, Hercules

 

CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal applications; Welfare-to-Work

During the temporary closure, limited in-person access will be available to individuals who meet these criteria:

  • No access to a telephone or computer
  • Pre-scheduled in-person appointment
  • Emergency EBT card or check pick-up
  • Scheduled CalWORKs or General Assistance mental health assessment
  • Homeless mail pick-up

Applications will be available outside the lobby areas for all benefit programs, and community members may complete, sign and return documents for processing using a secure drop box during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EHSD staff will continue working to deliver all services, but away from the public spaces. Community members can visit www.EHSD.org to apply for benefits, email their worker, report changes, upload documents, obtain more information, as well as view updates and resources related to COVID-19. They may also get assistance from lobby staff by calling (925) 957-5647 or (925) 957-5648 (Spanish).

EHSD is committed to continuing to support families and individuals in Contra Costa County. The closure is a cautionary measure based on guidance from Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).  EHSD is committed to ensuring the delivery of quality services while promoting the health and safety of all community members.

Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services

Employment & Human Services (EHSD) partners with the community to deliver quality services to ensure access to resources that support, protect, and empower individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency.  Based on the core values of delivering an exceptional customer experience, encouraging open communication, embracing change, practicing ethical behavior, and embracing diversity, EHSD envisions Contra Costa County will continue to be a thriving community where all individuals and families can be healthy, safe, secure and self-sufficient.  More information about EHSD is available at www.ehsd.org.

 

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Contra Costa Health Services prohibits mass gatherings of 100+ people through end of March

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

Violation of or failure to comply is a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, or both. 25 cases of coronavirus currently in the county. 

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has announced a mandatory order prohibiting public and private mass gatherings of 100 or more people. A new order from CCHS Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano, posted at cchealth.org/coronavirus states, “Under the authority of Sections 101040 and 120175 of the California Health and Safety code, the Health Officer of the County of Contra Costa (“Health Officer”) orders effective as of 12:01 am on Sunday, March 15, 2020, and continuing through Tuesday, March 31, 2020, mass gatherings…defined as an event or convening that brings together 100 or more individuals at the same time in a single room or single confined or enclosed space, including but not limited to an auditorium, theater, stadium, arena, event center, meeting hall, conference center, cafeteria, or any confined indoor space of confined outdoor space.”

“Violation of or failure to comply with this is Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment in the County jail, or both. (California Health & Saf. Code, § 120295.),” the announcement also states. (See the complete order, here – HO-COVID19-01-Prohibiting-Mass-Gatherings-of-100-or-more)

Furthermore, in a Facebook Live video with Contra Costa Health Director Ana Roth (which can be viewed on YouTube), Dr. Ori Tsveieli, Contra Costa Deputy and Acting Health Officer said, “We are strongly urging what are called social distancing strategies. No gatherings of people, because the virus can spread when people gather together. So, we want to limit gatherings of people. Our strong urging is to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 or more people coming together. People who are especially vulnerable, who are the elderly or people with chronic medical conditions, really try to stay away from gatherings of people, even as small as 10 people together can elevate your risks.”

“If you are sick do not go to work or school,” he also stated. “Work from home if you can.”

“This is a key time,” Dr. Tsveieli continued. “We are trying to flatten the curve. Which means slow the spread down so that our healthcare infrastructure in our community can handle it.”

According to Contra Costa Health Services, as of Friday, March 13, 2020 at 9:30 a.m., in Contra Costa County there are 25 cases of residents with coronavirus/COVID-19 with zero deaths.

A press conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. today. Speakers will include Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen and Contra Costa health officials. The health officer’s goal is to firmly establish the critical need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by eliminating crowds.

For the latest update from Contra Costa Health Services, visit https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/.

Expect more information to be added to this report. Please check back later.

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