Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Writer complains about waiting 7 hours for out of state phone service to schedule free COVID-19 test, not having comment read during Supervisors meeting

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Please run this scathing letter that I wrote about my terrible experience in not getting a COVID-19 test late last week.

But the other part of the story is that it was not read into the record during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Instead it will be “shared” with the supervisors, according to Jami Napier, Chief Assistant Clerk to the BOS.

In an email response she wrote, “This email will be shared with the Board of Supervisors. We are not reading emails into the record at this time.”

I responded, “Shame on you!  The agenda states that written comments will be accepted before and during the meeting.  I feel that I am being marginalized by the county. I feel cheapened. I cannot even get a Covid test; and then you do this to me.  Written comments should also be read into the record. Bad!”

Board of Supervisors Chair Andersen:

The county is playing with the lives of citizens, especially seniors when the county announces free COVID-19 testing for anyone regardless of one’s health, and the county’s out of state telephone message service is unable to properly handle the avalanche of incoming calls. Shame on the county and the telephone service!

Thankfully neither I nor my wife have COVID_19 symptoms, but last Friday I was on the phone 7 hours futilely waiting to make an appointment to line up appointments for free COVID-19 tests.  No one answered my call.  Incredible!

Later that day I talked to Supervisor Federal Glover who confirmed with that the health department is swamped with calls and is working to resolve the issue. That’s all that he could do for me and my wife. What a bummer!

The problem is, what if someone like myself or my wife, really has COVID-19 symptoms?  What do they do then if they cannot make an appointment like I attempted to do?  I suppose the answers to those questions is, wait for one’s maker, death!

This situation is unacceptable. The county and supervisors should be held accountable and correct this problem now!

Sincerely,

Daniel & Leslie Borsuk  

Pittsburg

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Contra Costa Coronavirus Update: 1,066 cases, 32 total deaths, only 18 hospitalized in county

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Screenshot of CCHealth Coronavirus Dashboard 05-12-20.

By Allen Payton

As of this morning, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is reporting a total of 1,066 cases of COVID-19/coronavirus, and a total of 32 deaths in the county. There are only 18 people diagnosed with the virus currently hospitalized.

There were 14 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3 more on Sunday and 12 more cases reported on Saturday.

A total of 19,176 people have been tested for the virus in the county.

To see the all the statistics provided by CCHS, click here.

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Contra Costa health officer says county “headed in right direction” but not yet ready to follow lead of state in loosening restrictions on businesses

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christ Farnitano 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. Herald file photo.

Continuing to coordinate with other Bay Area counties to determine when more loosening will occur; “Contra Costa is not an island” – Dr. Chris Farnitano

By Allen Payton

In light of Governor Newsom’s recent loosening of the rules on some businesses, including allowing florists to reopen as of today, Friday, May 8, 2020, Contra Costa Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano was asked several questions about what appears to be a positive trend and therefore why he’s not following the state’s lead.

The number of cases of those with COVID-19 in hospitals in the county peaked around April 14 at 47 and has continued to drop to just 16 as of today. Other statistics on the Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Dashboard also show decreases in almost all of the statistics tracked. The only statistic that continues to increase is the number of new cases, which is currently at 1,015. But, the dashboard doesn’t currently show how many of the 1,017 people who have tested positive in our county have recovered. The total number of deaths is currently at 29 and hasn’t increased since Monday, May 4.

Q: How many have recovered? When will we see that statistic on the Contra Costa Health website?

Dr. Farnitano: We’re waiting for the state and the CDC for a definition. Most people recover within 14 days. So, we’re working on a definition that if It’s been 14 days, you’re not in the hospital, and not dead, you’ve recovered. The data team that works on the website, we’re hoping to next week have that statistic on the website. Marin County is using something similar to that.

Q: With the continued reduction in numbers of those with the virus in the hospital in our county, do you see we are heading in the right direction?

Dr. Farnitano: We are definitely heading in the right direction. It’s both decreasing hospital numbers and decreasing the number of new cases. That gave us confidence in allowing all construction and all outdoor and most outdoor recreation, this past Monday. It takes two or three weeks to see after things are loosened up if cases don’t start to increase, again. So, there’s a little bit of a lag. We really haven’t seen the effects of the health order change on May 3rd.”

Q: Asked specifically about why he wouldn’t allow florists to reopen in time for Mother’s Day and what’s the difference if they use curbside delivery and everyone’s wearing their masks, he responded, “grocery stores are essential businesses, but florists are not. Essential businesses are allowed to sell non-essential items.”

Q: Why can’t you follow the lead of the governor?

Dr. Farnitano: We’re trying to work together (with the other Bay Area counties). Contra Costa is not an island and there’s lots of travel for work and shopping with Alameda County. What’s happening in Alameda County and San Francisco affects Contra Costa. The other counties’ statistics aren’t as good as Contra Costa County’s.

Q: If things are looking good in the next few weeks is it possible the shelter in place order can end on May 31st?

Dr. Farnitano: If we keep trending in the right way we can have more loosening.

Q: Asked if he’s been adding new criteria and raising the bar or just being more specific about what was already in place?

Dr. Farnitano: Some of it’s being more specific. There’s got to be a lot of social distancing requirements to open back up the economy. Wearing masks and social distancing are going to be in place for quite a long time, in order to open back up shopping and dining.

Q: What about churches opening for services, again?

Dr. Farnitano: The state has more details for their phases. In-person church gatherings and other public gatherings, they have in their Phase Three. A local order can’t allow anything looser than the state.

Q: On a more personal note, did you ever think you would have to use your authority to deal with something other than a temporary shelter in place order for something such as a chemical release?

Dr. Farnitano: I actually became a deputy health officer about five years ago. One of the health officers at that time who trained me told me, “there are tremendous powers in the health officer. Try not to use them and use them very wisely.” One of the main purposes of the statutory authority is for outbreaks and diseases. This is such an overwhelming event that it’s much more than I did really ever sort of plan for or expect. Ever since the H1N1 we’ve had these pandemic outbreak plans and that these social distancing tools would be one of the most effective tools. We didn’t expect this to go on so long.

Farnitano has also been personally affected by the shelter-in-place order when he had to watch his middle son get married in Georgia via Facebook Live, last week.

“When Chris makes decisions that affect us, it weighs heavy on him,” shared Kim McCarl, Contra Costa Health Communications Officer.

With the increase in tests at eight different drive-up or walk-up sites, for anyone in the county who wants one, regardless if they are experiencing symptoms of the virus, “that will help us get the economy open quicker,” she said. (See related article).

For more statistical details about COVID-19 in Contra Costa County visit https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/.

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All Contra Costa residents can get COVID-19 test regardless of symptoms, one site in Antioch

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Contra Costa is first county in Bay Area to offer testing to anyone even if they don’t have symptoms

Contra Costa County will now offer an appointment for COVID-19 testing to any resident who believes they need one, regardless of insurance, ability to pay or whether they have symptoms or not.

Residents can make an appointment to visit one of eight sites throughout the county. The county is operating five drive-through testing sites while the state provides walk-up testing locations at three additional locations. Testing is available by appointment only. Call 1-844-421-0804 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily for an appointment at any Contra Costa site.

The increased access to community testing will help Contra Costa County reach its goal for easing social restrictions in the current shelter-in-place order, which lasts through May. Previously, tests were only offered for patients with symptoms of illness.

“We need to test many more county residents to get a better sense of how widespread COVID-19 is in our community, and to help prevent its spread,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. “Testing will also give us a better idea of when we can relax the current health orders.”

Between 300 and 400 patients are tested daily in the county. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) hopes to test about five times as many people.

All CCHS-run sites offer drive-through testing by appointment only. These sites are located in Antioch, Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Pablo and San Ramon. Patients must visit these sites in their vehicles, as testing is done in the car.

Three new state-run sites also opened on Wednesday in Brentwood, Pinole and Walnut Creek, accepting walk-in patients by appointment only.

Appointments can be made by calling 1-844-421-0804. For appointments at county-run sites, a screener will take the information necessary to begin the process. Callers will then get a call back from a health professional during which an appointment will be scheduled.

There is no up-front cost for testing. County residents do not need medical insurance to get tested. However, if you have health insurance, your insurance will be billed.

While you don’t need symptoms to get tested, symptoms that may warrant a test include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle ache, sore throat, headache, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, recent loss of taste or smell, or confusion, particularly in older adults.

Visit coronavirus.cchealth.org/testing for details about community testing, including site locations.

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Antioch Councilmember, public comments call for Commission Chair to resign or be removed over controversial coronavirus comments

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Antioch Council Member Monica Wilson (top center) offers her comments on Turnage’s Facebook post during the April 28, 2020 meeting, as the mayor, other council members and city staff look on. Screenshot from city website.

“We would lose many elderly…loved ones as well…even myself but that is the way of the World!” – Antioch Planning Commission Chair Ken Turnage, II

“My ancestors already died for the sake of our economy through a marked period in our time called slavery.” – Council Member Monica Wilson

Ken Turnage IIAntioch Planning Commission Chair Ken Turnage, II. Herald file photo.

By Allen Payton

It appears the 2020 Antioch City Council campaign began earlier than normal, this year as Antioch Council Member Monica Wilson and three members of the public called for Planning Commission Chairman Ken Turnage, II to be removed or resign over controversial comments he made on Facebook about the coronavirus and shelter-in-place orders.

Wilson, as well as the mayor and other three council members are up for re-election in November, and Turnage has been rumored to be taking on Wilson in the race for District 4. Turnage, an Antioch general contractor and business owner, ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2016 placing fourth behind Council Members Lamar Thorpe, Wilson and former Mayor Mary Rocha.

In his Thursday, April 23 comment, using an argument similar to the Malthusian Theory of population control, Turnage wrote, “The shelter in place needs to end, we as a species need to move forward…We would have significant loss of life, we would lose many elderly, that would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System, health care cost (once the wave subsided), make jobs available for others and it would also free up housing in which we are in dire need of. We would lose a large portion of the people with immune and other health complications. I know it would be loved ones as well. But that would once again reduce our impact on medical, jobs and housing. Then we have our other sectors such as our homeless and other people who just defile themselves by either choice or mental issues. This would run rampant through them and yes i am sorry but this would fix what is a significant burden on our Society and resources that can be used. Of course we would lose many of the ‘Healthy’ maybe even myself but that is the way of the World!”

During the online Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday night, April 28, 2020, the three comments by members of the public called for Turnage’s removal from the commission and went so far as to label his comments racist and discriminatory.

Wilson, Council Member Thorpe and Mayor Sean Wright all denounced Turnage’s comments. Wilson also injected slavery into her response.

“I need to comment on this. I do want to take a moment to raise an issue that I believe undermines the great work that our city is doing to protect our citizens,” Wilson said. “Our Planning Commission Chair made some inappropriate comments on social media. He basically made the argument that it was totally OK to allow in our community, from the elderly to the homeless, to die a COVID-19 for the benefit of reopening our economy contrary to our shared values.”

“My ancestors already died for the sake of our economy through a marked period in our time called slavery,” she continued. “Let me be clear, he is entitled to his opinion, as I am entitled to mine. However, as a member of our planning commission his words are merely not consistent of what we are doing and how we care for our citizens.”

“His words do not in any way reflect the values of the city council or city administration,” Wilson continued. “Personally, I find his words…disgusting, inappropriate and extremely reckless. We do not have any place in public discourse for that.”

“I’m also appalled to date none of us on council have responded to this reckless comment. It’s inexcusable,” she stated. “I am beyond disgusted by those remarks. I too am asking either he resigns or we as council need to deal with taking him off of that commission.”

Thorp said, “Councilwoman Wilson, I share your concern and disgust. I thought those comments were inexcusable and they have no place in city government, today. To your point, it’s contrary to the shared values we have as a community and I’m beyond disgusted. So, thank you for your remarks.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts added her comments on the matter.

“Monica, that was very passionate what you had to say,” she said. “My expectation is that council and staff and commissions all acknowledge their service to the community, and that they act with professionalism and that they take great care for all of the community members.”

“Our grandparents and our parents and generations have fought wars to preserve life,” Motts continued. “Honestly, it’s absurd to think that we would want to take one person’s life as more valuable than another. I thank you for your comments, I think they’re important. I know I am and this staff and this city council will do whatever we can to save as many lives as possible.”

Mayor Wright also denounced Turnage’s comments.

“I have stopped watching and looking at Facebook just because there is so much division. The comments were not brought to my attention until yesterday, through email,” Wright stated. “I think the comments were abhorrent, should not have been said and stated. But I will fight for the right to say things.”

“We do and need to hold ourselves to a higher standard as council members and as commissioners and those who represent the city,” he continued. “So, there is discussion to be had as far as that goes.”

Following are the comments by the three members of the public who emailed the council prior to the meeting:

“I feel compelled to write to you, today about a recent Facebook message by Ken Turnage serving on the Antioch Planning Commission,” wrote Debra Polk, a resident and a self-described “advocate for safe, healthy communities for children ages 0 to 5.” “We know that African Americans are more likely to die of this illness compared to other races. As a mature black woman, I have experienced many examples of blatant racism in my lifetime. Mr. Turnage’s comments are incredibly offensive and reflect an attitude of racist, white superiority. How can someone with those sentiments represent the interests of our city? How are people of color in the Antioch community represented when city sanctioned commission leaders express this type of prejudice and perspective? With such blatant bias I don’t believe this commissioner can represent us. Therefore, he must be removed from his position on the commission. I am requesting that the Antioch City Council take immediate action to resolve this issue. Facebook is often a place for different opinions. However, when you, as a city volunteer representative place your biases and hurtful comments on social media for all of us to see, then you don’t deserve to make decisions for me, other people of color or the elderly. I along with thousands of other Antioch residents deserve to be represented by my city commissioners and not subject to this type of discrimination.”

Rivertown district resident, Christine Clark wrote of “a recent, disturbing comment on Facebook made by Planning Commissioner Chair…I was flabbergasted and in disbelief…someone who represents my City of Antioch could find it in his heart to write such racist and discriminatory comments. His ideas describe the mentality of survival of the fittest. I am absolutely appalled with these comments.”

She mentioned “those disadvantaged by systemic racism and inequity are cast aside” and “hundreds of years of oppression and current injustices that make certain members of our society more susceptible to the drastic consequences of this virus.”

Clark also called for Turnage’s resignation.

Brendan Alasky also wrote about Turnage’s comments, labeling them “disgusting and unacceptable assertions that were reminiscent of eugenics arguments used to justify genocide and atrocities on marginalized people throughout the U.S. history.”

He called for Turnage to resign and apologize for his comments.

Following is Turnage’s complete comment posted on his personal Facebook page:

This opinion will not be popular and could easily anger some of you so if you are the type of person that only values your own opinion you may not want to read this. Before I start I just want to say I have been obeying the shelter in place orders. The shelter in place needs to end, we as a species need to move forward with our place on Earth and yes it appears our place is changing. The debate about this virus being man made or just happened due to eating a bat is past us (I believe it was eating the bat). This virus is like a human version of a forest fire, a forest fire will burn through and burn off all the dead trees, old tress, fallen brush and scrub shrub sucklings that drain the resources of the forest and causing it to be unhealthy. So what happens in a standard forest fire is all these portions of the forest are burned off turned into ash that fertilizes the ground. The strong trees survive and the forest replenishes itself and flourishes once again. Now when we stop the standard forest fires or natural burn off in forestry we set ourselves up for total devastation such as the recent fires in California they were in destruction in totality all because we were trying to “protect” we caused more harm.

If we look at our population as the forest you will see many similarities. We have our old, we have our weak and we have our drains on our resources. This virus is targeting those sectors of our population. If we were to live our lives, let nature run its course, yes we will all feel hardship, we will all feel loss. I am sure everyone of us would lose a person who we hold dear. But as species, for our Nation and as a Planet we would we would strengthen when this is all settled. We would have significant loss of life, we would lose many elderly, that would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System, health care cost (once the wave subsided), make jobs available for others and it would also free up housing in which we are in dire need of. We would lose a large portion of the people with immune and other health complications. I know it would be loved ones as well. But that would once again reduce our impact on medical, jobs and housing. Then we have our other sectors such as our homeless and other people who just defile themselves by either choice or mental issues. This would run rampant through them and yes i am sorry but this would fix what is a significant burden on our Society and resources that can be used. Of course we would lose many of the “Healthy” maybe even myself but that is the way of the World! With all this said now look at all the Worldly resources that would be able to replenish. We are hearing of many levels of Earth repair already happening just due to a lower impact of our Species so think what would happen with a significant population reduction.

The World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one. In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers it ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature. With this the Herd is strengthened, and the Herd once again becomes symbiant with the planet!

If you unfriend me because of my opinion that is your choice and I wish you the best and stay safe!”

His post garnered mixed reactions in the comments by 584 others, most of them negative and some comparing his comment to those of Nazis and Hitler during World War II.

Dan Brown was the first to respond writing, “Speak the truth!!”

Seth Porter wrote in response, “I appreciate this opinion. I did notice you didn’t include a list of your relatives you’re willing to watch die though so it seems a little hollow.”

Dan Gross wrote, “Would not unfriend you!! Well written my friend.”

Richard D. Correa wrote, “The nazi’s did just what you described. They took people who they felt were taking up space, elderly, weak, mentally ill, poor, children, and of course, those who were not like them. If you feel that way, gather your family and take them all to a facility where people are infected, that way you can start the cleansing.”

George Wever responded, “99% of the population is forced to suffer and have financial hardships for the 1% fatality rate they have re evaluated the death rate to. Let God sort them out and time to move forward!!!”

Kim Motts Stadtlander wrote, “Wow, we heard and saw something similar in WWII. This virus has taken young people, marathon runners, previously healthy, and yes, the elderly and immune compromised. I doubt you’d feel this way if it came knocking on your door for your child, your spouse, or your parents. This virus is not a flu, it reacts differently than previously seen. I want the economy open just like you. I have 3 unemployed people in my house, but never ever at the expense of what you propose. It’s Hitleresque.”

Aisha Odom wrote “Good ole eugenics huh? Well as long as you are the very first in line.”

Jeremy Motts wrote, “It may not be as severe as the worst case scenario, but it also might be. It’s not okay to play Russian roulette with other people’s lives. I work in healthcare, please abide by the rules until we get this figured out please, for the sake of our families.”

Chris Burton Patterson wrote, “I agree with you on many points. Look at the stores that are open. Grocery, donuts stores, restaurants, home depo, hospitals. They are doing it responsibly. Why can’t others do this? There is no reason. And if you don’t want to, then don’t. Those with weaken immune systems, there are ways to strengthen them.. we can all be careful in our own way. It’s not an all or nothing situation” and “Why can’t the people of this great country do both. Go back to work and protect those most vulnerable?”

In a repost of Turnage’s comment Mitch Brockman wrote, “This is the absolute TRUTH! Ken Turnage II, Very well said sir!”

Efforts to reach Wilson asking her if she planned to place an item on the next council meeting agenda for the council to vote on Turnage’s removal from the commission were unsuccessful. Thorpe clarified his comment that he shared Wilson’s concern did not include a call for Turnage’s resignation or removal from the commission.

UPDATE: When reached for comment, Turnage responded to Wilson’s call for his removal with, “I’m not going to step down over a personal opinion that has nothing to do with the City or an opinion that has nothing to do with being a planning commissioner. My opinion isn’t liked, which is fine. But I do find very petty and disheartening that at every opportunity someone like Councilmember Wilson will try and use race! It’s a baiting tactic and is very petty.”

“I’m sorry that this country has the history it does but I don’t see how a virus has anything to do with race, slavery or oppression of any kind. It just shows a low level of mentality that the only thing in someone’s arsenal is the race card,” he added.

To view the council meeting and hear the comments by Wilson, click here and scroll to the 17-minute mark.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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Contra Costa Supervisors split over easing Shelter-in-Place restrictions

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

By Daniel Borsuk

A tug-of-war is forming on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on how the county should proceed in lifting COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place orders.

The rift became apparent when District 1 Supervisor John Gioia cautioned other supervisors during the teleconferenced meeting “Our hospitalization rates are going down, but I worry about having people going back to work prematurely. I don’t want to lift restrictions prematurely.”

Moments earlier District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said she has been receiving negative comments from constituents wanting the county to end the shelter-in-place order. “Fortunately, our death rate is low at 25,” Mitchoff said. “I’ve received a nasty email wanting the county to reopen businesses.”

“We are trying to ease up on the restrictions,” said Board Chair Candace Andersen of Danville, who also chairs the supervisors’ newly established ad hoc Public Health Committee that Mitchoff also serves on.

“We are not going to have a new surge of COVID-19 cases,” Andersen added.

Later this week county public health officers from the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley are expected to issue revised shelter-in-place orders that will basically keep current restrictions in place and extend them through May. The new order will include limited easing of specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities.

The shelter-in-place orders in effect across the six counties and one city were set to expire on May 3rd but, were extended until May 31st as of Wednesday morning.

Roth reported to supervisors that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March the county has conducted more than 11,500 tests.

“We have loosened up the testing standards for anyone who thinks they have the symptoms” she said.

The county operates test sites in San Pablo, Martinez, Concord, and Antioch, with plans for three more in the county to be run by the state department of health.

The health department director credited the work of employees and the Board of Supervisors for the health department’s accomplishments during the pandemic. “Over the past 45 days we were able to flatten the curve. We can be proud of what we have accomplished. We are saving lives without a vaccine. This virus does not stop at jurisdictional or political lines,” Roth said.

County Accepts No Cost Transfer of Aircraft to Office of Sheriff

On the consent agenda, Supervisors approved the Office of the Sheriff’s request to accept the transfer by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services of a 1978 Beechcraft King Air A200 fixed wing aircraft from the San Bernardino County Office of the Sheriff at no cost to the county. The estimated value of the aircraft is $700,000.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office has bought a new King Air aircraft and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has approved the transfer of this aircraft to the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff at no cost. San Bernardino County completed all required maintenance and service on the King Air A200 and it is fully certified.

“The Contra Costa Office of the Sheriff will use this aircraft for a variety of purposes including the deployment of search and rescue personnel, allow movement of detectives and other personnel to locations throughout the state for a variety of purposes including interviewing witnesses, victims and suspects, and allow for the transfer of emergency supplies where necessary,” Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston wrote in statement in support of the transfer.

16.5 Percent April Unemployment Rate Predicted

County Administrator David Twa informed supervisors that the statewide unemployment rate for April could be 16.5 percent, a rate like that of the Great Recession of 2007.

Twa also reported that a Meals for Seniors Program that is backed by FEMA will expire on May 10. “It is a little awkward if FEMA does not renew it after May 10,” Twa said.

The program will provide three meals a day from local restaurants to senior citizens meeting specified economic requirements.

Two Commercial Cultivation Cannabis Applicants Miss Land Use Permit Filing Deadline

Supervisors learned from Conservation & Development Department Director John Kopchik that of the 11 proposals granted permission to apply for limited commercial cannabis land use permits by the March 9 deadline, two commercial cultivation applicants – Element 7 (0 Chestnut, Brentwood) and Element 7 (3645 Willow Way, Byron) had missed the filing deadline.

The five commercial cultivation applicants submitting land use permits applications by the March 9 deadline were: Lifted Spirit Collective at 5930 Balfour Road, Brentwood; 703 Chesley, LLC, 0 Chesley Ave., Richmond; Casa Rasta Farms, 505 Brookside Dr., Richmond; Diablo Valley Farms, 10500 Brentwood Blvd., and Brentwood and Magic Flower Gardens, LLC, 801 Chesley Ave., Richmond.

Kopchik said four retail storefront cannabis applicants that had been invited to file for land use permits had filed land use permits by the March 9 deadline. Those applicants were Authentic 925, 5753 Pacheco Blvd., Pacheco; The Artist Tree, 4100 San Pablo Dam Road, El Sobrante; Embarc Contra Costa, 3505 Pacheco Blvd., Martinez; and Element 7-Bay Point, 3515 Willow Pass Road, Bay Point.

Kopchik said county planning officials will review and evaluate the nine applications received and perform the work necessary for the proposal to be individually considered at future public hearings.

Marsh Drive Bridge Replacement Project Approved

Supervisors needed to exercise their eminent domain powers to acquire 900 square feet of private property in order for the Public Works Department to move ahead on the demolition of the 80-year-old Marsh Drive Bridge over Walnut Creek Channel in Concord and the construction of a new span.

Supervisors unanimously approved the eminent domain request and Public Works Department’s request to apply for $20 million in federal funding for the Marsh Drive Bridge reconstruction project.

When completed in 2022, the new Marsh Drive Bridge will accommodate two lanes of vehicular traffic, with shoulders, sidewalk on the north side, and a separated 10-foot wide pedestrian and bike trail on the south side. The project will tie into the existing Iron Horse Trail on the southeast side of the bridge and extend the trail on the new bridge to the west, crossing over Walnut Creek.

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Regional Shelter-in-Place orders extended as rules ease on construction, outdoor businesses and activities

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Health Officers caution that reducing restrictions too quickly could lead to a substantial resurgence of COVID-19

The seven Bay Area Public Health Officers who ordered a shelter in place in mid-March will extend the orders through May 31 while some restrictions are eased and tools to strengthen containment of COVID-19 are put into place.

All construction activities, certain businesses that operate primarily outdoors, and some outdoor activities will be allowed to resume with specific conditions.

These new Health Officer orders, which take effect May 4, cover everyone living or working in the counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley, an independent public health jurisdiction.

This next phase reflects regional progress, thanks to the collective action Bay Area residents have taken since mid-March in response to Health Officer shelter-in-place orders. Those actions have saved lives and staved off mass hospitalizations from the COVID-19 virus, which spreads easily and causes severe illness in many people. There is not yet an effective treatment or cure for the disease.

This initial, measured easing of some restrictions is designed to set the stage for a gradual resumption of activity and prevent rapid, exponential growth of cases that could overwhelm hospitals for a particular jurisdiction or the region as a whole.

“We understand how challenging shelter in place is but we are clearly seeing the benefits,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Health Officer of Contra Costa County. “As we ease a small number of restrictions, it’s important to remember that the virus is still in our community. Now is not the time to ease up on maintaining social distancing, wearing a face covering, and staying home whenever possible.”

“The new order allows us to carefully monitor our progress while building the essential public health infrastructure – such as contact tracing and testing capacity – that will support our gradual reopening and make recovery possible,” said Dr. Tomás Aragon, Health Officer for the City and County of San Francisco.

Under the new orders, all construction projects will be allowed to resume as long as the project complies with safety protocols included with the order. All real estate transactions will also now be able to resume, but with continued restrictions on open houses and limitations on in-person viewings. Any employee allowed to return to work at a facility can also access childcare programs that are allowed to operate

Certain outdoor businesses can also begin operating again, and people are allowed to visit those businesses to perform work or obtain goods, services, or supplies. This includes wholesale and retail nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, and other businesses that primarily provide outdoor services as set forth in the order. Outdoor businesses do not include restaurants, cafes or bars, regardless of whether they have outdoor seating.

Other activities that can resume under the new order include residential moves and the use of certain shared outdoor recreational facilities that were previously ordered closed, like skate parks, but not others that involve shared equipment or physical contact.

This order is generally consistent with the state’s shelter in place order. On any issue where the local and state orders may differ, the stricter order applies.

Indicators to help assess progress on containing COVID-19

Health Officers are also releasing indicators that will be used to measure progress in containing the virus and ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to protect the community from COVID-19. These indicators will be critical to decisions in the coming weeks and months about when and how to ease shelter-in-place restrictions.

The indicators include:

  • Whether the total number of cases in the community is flat or decreasing;
  • Whether the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is flat or decreasing;
  • Whether there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for all health care workers;
  • Whether we are meeting the need for testing, especially for persons in vulnerable populations or those in high-risk settings or occupations; and
  • Whether we have the capacity to investigate all COVID-19 cases and trace all of their contacts, isolating those who test positive and quarantining the people who may have been exposed.

“A pandemic of this scale is unprecedented,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. “We are progressing steadily as a region, but we must reduce restrictions on activity gradually or we will put the lives of many community members at risk.”

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Contra Costa County: Compassion and Community in Action

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Messsage from the County Health Director

Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth, RN, MS, MPH. Photo: CCHealth.org

For all of us caught in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, life has changed fundamentally. How we socialize, learn, exercise, dine and work has been reshaped entirely in the course of just a few weeks. That level of change, combined with the inherent health concerns related to COVID-19, has created levels of stress and anxiety typical of war zones. Combine all that with the frustration of not knowing when this might end, how we will all be impacted and what a post-COVID-19 world will look like and you might expect fractures in our community.

But we’re not breaking apart. In fact, as I look around, I see a community that is pulling together in many different and powerful ways. Yes, we’re all under immense stress, but Contra Costa County has risen to the challenge, showing a level of respect, cooperation and involvement that is simply remarkable. It’s too early to predict the future, but one thing I do foresee is Contra Costa County emerging from all this with pride for modeling a remarkable level of civility and leadership.

It’s these increased acts of community participation that make it possible for Contra Costa County Health Services to respond in a coordinated, science-based and thoughtful manner to this crisis. The health department’s purpose is to protect and preserve life. We prepare and practice for mass emergencies on a regular basis—earthquakes, fires, disease outbreaks and other disasters. It is our obligation to be prepared even for a once-in-a-century pandemic. And now, with COVID-19, our purpose inspires and drives us to balance the need for extreme caution with a respect for your need to live as normal a life as possible in the face of this crisis.

As one of the first states to see COVID-19 cases, California could well have faced the same catastrophic impacts that other states are now experiencing. However, because of the courage and foresight of health and government officials in Contra Costa County and the entire Bay Area, we took strong and immediate action. Issuing one of the nation’s first region-wide shelter in place orders, the Bay Area slowed the spread of this unprecedented threat to prevent the crushing demand on hospital resources, which prevented illness and death. None of this is possible without the understanding and cooperation of all of you. Your willingness to alter your lives in ways we know are disruptive is vital for the health and well-being of the entire community as well as the safety of our essential workers.

Part of what’s made our response effective thus far has been the cooperation and coordination of the entire county government apparatus. From our Board of Supervisors and County Administration to the multiple different county departments, we are seeing an unprecedented level of alignment and action. Separate departments are sharing resources, staff expertise and contacts to make sure that the county’s response is as comprehensive and coordinated as possible. By the same respect, the county’s 19 cities are partnering closely with all of these efforts to magnify our reach, impact and efficiency. This has been a true example of a whole government response to support and protect the people of Contra Costa County.

Rightly so, there has been a lot of focus on the amazing individuals on the front lines of this epidemic – our healthcare workers, medics, police, fire and many more. As the county’s health director, I have never been more inspired in my entire career than to work with doctors, nurses, clinicians, lab workers, disease investigators, community health workers, registration, administration and custodial staff and countless other essential workers who have never once questioned their responsibility. Instead, they come to work every day dedicated to protecting and preserving lives in our county. It is humbling to witness this level of commitment to others. And for every worker that is responding on the multiple front lines of this pandemic, there’s a team of support staff working to make sure they have the materials, protection, data, information, and expertise they need so they can focus their attention on the work of helping people get and stay well.

The other day, I was on my way to a field health care site we have prepared. As I was driving, I saw a gathering of people at a local school. With masks and gloves on, dozens of volunteers had shown up to distribute food to their neighbors, friends and strangers who are feeling some of the greatest economic impact of this pandemic. As I passed the group I was filled with gratitude. I believe this deep sense of community and connection is part of what makes us resilient and will take us forward to greet the days ahead.

Many thanks for all the ideas, feedback and information so many of you have shared with Contra Costa County Health Services. Your input is helping us to improve each day. Thank you for your continued support of our health department and each other.

Wishing you all safety, health and wellness

Anna Roth, RN, MS, MPH

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