Archive for February, 2020

Only one patient with coronavirus remains in Contra Costa, U.S. Marshals at hospitals to enforce federal quarantine order

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

One possible additional case of a county hospital staff member

By Allen Payton

Many residents of Antioch and East County have had questions about the coronavirus. The Herald asked Will Harper, Acting Communications Director for Contra Costa Health Services to provide answers to of them.

First, it’s been said that one of the nurses at the county hospital has contracted the virus and there are now four cases in the county.

“I’m only aware of three cases that were in the county, two of which have been transferred out of our jurisdiction, Contra Costa County,” Harper responded. “Now we only have one at a hospital in the county. I am not aware of any cases that originated in Contra Costa.”

Asked if that patient was at Kaiser Deer Valley, he replied “I wouldn’t identify the hospital where the remaining patient is located.”

“We have had no healthcare workers including nurses that have tested positive for coronavirus,” said Dr. Samir Shah, Chief Medical Officer of the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. “The individual (county hospital staff member) we’re referring to developed upper respiratory symptoms within 24 hours of working with a potential patient with coronavirus. We’ve asked the individual to stay home in self-quarantine for the next 14 days. We are following the CDC guidelines. The tests were sent out earlier this week and our history with the CDC is that we’re getting back results within five to eight days.”

“They’re expanding their abilities to do testing, locally,” he explained. “So, in the near future we’re hoping to have access to testing closer to home for quicker turnaround. There will be an increase in the number of tests being requested from local hospitals.”

“Currently the CDC is determining which tests they will allow to happen based on their protocols and guidelines,” Dr. Shah said. “We can request the test, but they decide whether they’re going to run the test or not. We do this in conjunction with public health and the County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano.”

Asked why U.C. Davis Medical Center officials issued an announcement about the patient at their hospital and the public in Contra Costa County isn’t being informed which hospitals the patients are located, Harper said the health public information officers in the Bay Area all agreed it would be best for patient confidentiality to not provide that information.

“U.C. Davis executive leadership sent out very detailed information about the patient with coronavirus and hospital staff. It took local hospitals by surprise because we’ve been following strict communication guidelines avoiding individual patient disclosure details,” said Dr. Shah. “Public health controls what information can be offered up.”

Coronavirus. Image by CDC

“From a public reporting standpoint, it’s typically our policy to conform to patient privacy and not disclose patient care information to the public,” he stated. “However, given the level of interest and anxiety in the community, we are reconsidering how we are able to disclose information in a confidential manner that both meets the privacy requirements for the individual while still informing the public. Talking to you, today is part of that change.”

Finally, residents said they had heard there are U.S. Marshals at the county hospital to prevent staff from speaking about the patients with coronavirus there and that the hospital has been fined $250,000 because it had happened, previously.

Since it’s a federal matter, Harper suggested contacting Scott Pauley, the Public Information Officer for the Centers for Disease Control.

When reached for comment, Pauley replied, “No. That has nothing to do with the Marshals’ presence there. They are there to enforce the federal quarantine.”

“When a patient is in federal quarantine process, the Marshals enforce that isolation order to monitor the patient to make sure they don’t leave the hospital,” he said. “This is all part of the federal quarantine orders issued when they returned to the United States.”

“These individuals came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship,” Pauley added.

“I believe we had one U.S. Marshal around the clock, when the patient was here,” Dr. Shah shared.

The Good News

“The good news is that the individual that was brought here from Travis did well, was sent home and no longer requires any more hospital intervention,” he stated.

“While, this is a new virus and we’re still learning more every day, the international experience is that 80% of people who develop symptoms of this don’t require any hospitalization,” Dr. Shah added.

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Writer supports Supervisor Burgis for re-election for her “integrity, brilliance and imagination”

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Dear Editor:

I writing to express my genuine respect, admiration, and appreciation for Supervisor Diane Burgis and whole-heartedly support her re-election.

We are blessed to have a leader with the level of integrity, brilliance, and imagination that Diane has demonstrated in serving the people of Contra Costa. She is a woman who is relentless in her efforts to bring innovation to our region and has made significant strides towards job and business creation to support our local workforce.

I have witnessed first-hand Diane’s wisdom and her dedication to regional improvement through her work on business-based drone development in far east Contra Costa, the creation of a multimillion-dollar light industrial park at the site of the former DuPont plant in Oakley, and the launch of the Family Justice Center in Antioch that includes job training and support for people who have been victims of human trafficking as well as those who seek skills training in technology employment through the work of the “Love Never Fails” project that has made significant impact throughout the Bay Area.

Diane is accessible and genuinely loves our communities and those of us who live here. Please cast your vote for Supervisor Diane Burgis, so she can continue with the amazing work she is doing for the benefit of our families. My husband Keith is fully in support of this statement.

Iris Archuleta

Antioch

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Antioch Police officer stops shoplifter at J.C. Penney store

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Antioch Police Officer Crandell with shoplifting suspect and the recovered items he allegedly stole. Photos by APD.

By Antioch Police Department

Officer Crandell was on an unrelated traffic stop at JCPenney when a man walked out of the store with $500 in stolen merchandise. The security alarm started going off at the store and the loss prevention officer flagged down Officer Crandell to tell her that the man was stealing. She was able to quickly apprehend the thief and recovered all of the stolen merchandise.

There has been an increase in shoplifting in this shopping center in recent weeks and our officers are doing extra patrols to combat it. Loss prevention is also doing an excellent job reporting thefts and obtaining suspect information. We are working closely with them to prevent theft and apprehend those responsible.

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Antioch Police Chief, Superintendent address school board on school safety, gun incident at Antioch High

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Screenshot of YouTube video of Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks speaking to the Antioch School Board on Wed., Feb. 25, 2020.

By Allen Payton

During her Superintendent’s report at the Antioch School Board meeting, Wednesday night, Feb. 25, 2020 Stephanie Anello said, “I wanted to update the board, while we develop a more comprehensive plan for addressing safety, that includes students, staff and the community, I want to take a moment to share some interim measures that we’re taking in light of the recent events that threatened the safety of students and staff at both Deer Valley and Antioch High Schools.”

“For the foreseeable future two extra site safety personnel will be on each campus, along with two extra administrators,” she stated. “Yesterday, we walked the Deer Valley campus to determine if additional cameras are needed to address safety concerns. As you’ll recall Antioch High’s cameras were updated with Measure B funds, recently.”

“We’ve also increased the lighting on campuses and are working to install gates to the main entrance of the Deer Valley parking lot,” Anello continued. “I’ve also been in contact with Chief Brooks from Antioch Police Department, and he is working to see if there can be increased presence on campus of the Antioch Police Department.”

She mentioned the Say Something app for the phones of students and staff, and everyone in the community can anonymously report incidents to school personnel and law enforcement. It will go live next month.

“As mentioned previously, the police chief and I are working on a grant to add school resource officers to our schools, as well as police presence at particular sporting events,” Anello shared. “We are going to do a perimeter assessment to determine if upgrades are needed and to secure our premises and are working to develop a parent community volunteer corps, so they can also help us.”

“Finally, each school is going to be addressing school safety at all of their ELAC meetings, their school site council meetings, and their PTSA meetings, so the parents have an opportunity to provide input and they’ll also be meeting with the leadership teachers at both sites, as well as students.”

Chief Addresses Incident of Gun on Antioch High Campus

“I don’t think a lot of people understand that during an active criminal investigation how communication works amongst the school district and the police department,” Anello said. So, she invited Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks to speak on the matter of the gun on the Antioch High campus, last Wednesday.

“I had received information that there were some people who thought that it was misinformation that was given by the school in regards to the incident, and I’m talking about an incident that occurred at the Antioch High School actually a week ago, today,” he said. “The question had to with the information that was provided by the school administrator, Principal Rocha that there was a weapon involved, and some people questioned why the school district was not more specific regarding the fact that it was a gun.”

“What I wanted to explain, what a lot of people are unaware of is that during the course of the incident and then the subsequent investigation it wasn’t known for a fact whether or not it actually was a gun,” Brooks explained. “So, for Principal Rocha to put out timely information that day, it would actually be irresponsible of him to say if it was or it wasn’t. He was general in that it was a weapon, because really that’s what we could confirm. But there was no confirmation as to whether or not it was a real firearm.”

“So, in an effort to get that information out timely, he actually had been in contact with our staff. The information was actually part of a collaboration,” Brooks continued. “He wanted to verify what in fact he could say and whether or not we could confirm at that time it was a real firearm or not. So, the information he drafted that day, the day of the incident was accurate.”

“Obviously, with any criminal investigation information changes as we conduct our investigation,” he stated. “So, we have to be very careful in what information we present to make sure that it’s as factually accurate as possible at the time we provide it.”

“So, I wanted to share that information with the board…that the information that Principal Rocha put out that day had actually been vetted through the police department and was accurate based on the information that he knew at the time of the posting,” Brooks concluded.

“Thank you for coming this evening and for all your help and support,” said Board President Diane Gibson-Gray.

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Voter registration opportunity remains for presidential primary at Regional Early Voting location in Antioch

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

By Scott O. Konopasek, Assistant Registrar, Contra Costa County

The voter registration deadline has passed, but you can still register and vote in one transaction between now and Election Day. Several convenient locations will be available leading up to and during Election Day for you to register to vote and cast your ballot.

Contra Costa Elections Division offers Conditional Voter Registration as a safety net for those who were unable to complete or update their voter registration before the deadline. Those who are already registered may also update their address or political party preference.

“We want make sure that everybody who is eligible to register to vote has ample opportunity to cast their ballot,” said Deborah Cooper, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters.

The Conditional Registration steps include going to an eligible county location, filling out a form that includes your name, address, date of birth and either the last four digits of your Social Security Number or your driver’s license number, and casting your ballot. Conditionally voted ballots are processed once our office completes the verification of the voter registration and confirms no ballot has already been voted. This service is available at the Elections Office, 555 Escobar in Martinez, during normal business hours and on Election Day from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Conditional Voter Registration will also be available at Regional Early Voting locations on Thursday, February 27th through Monday, March 2nd (excluding Sunday). Regional Early Voting is 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on the weekdays and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday, February 29th. These locations are available to all Contra Costa voters looking to cast their ballot ahead of time and avoid the Election Day rush. Any Contra Costa voter can vote at any one of the Regional Early Voting locations.

• Antioch Water Park, 4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

• Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond

• Hyatt House, 2611 Contra Costa Blvd, Pleasant Hill

Conditional Voter Registration is also available on Election Day at any of the county’s 166 polling places. For more information, call 925-335-7800.

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Drama Factory presents The Cat and The Devil play in Rivertown in March

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

A story by James Joyce adapted for the stage by John Ballesteros

It is medieval France and the Town of Beaugency is in trouble. There are feral cats causing a ruckus everywhere, the ferry to transport merchants and goods across the river has sank and the townspeople are grumbling……The Lord Mayor and Town Magistrate need to devise a way to save themselves.

Enter the Devil. With a plan. A plan that will solve everyone’s problems. Or will it?

Join the Drama Factory in this fun-for-all ages adaptation of a James Joyce classic.

March 20, 21, 27,28 at 7:30pm

March 21, 22, 28 at 1:30 pm

Nick Rodriguez Community Center Theatre, 213 F Street, Antioch

Admission: $10.00 General, $8.00 Senior

Matinee 3/22 is FREE SENIOR SUNDAY (no charge for attending Seniors)

The theatre seats 192, tickets are only sold at the door. Box office opens1/2-hour before showtime. Cash and CC/ATM accepted.

The Drama Factory is a local non-profit organization that maintains free access to quality and original arts programs for all participants. If you would like more information about the play, or about The Drama Factory you can visit our website at  https://www.dramafactory.org.

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Deer Valley High Mock Trial team members honored during annual county competition

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Team makes it to third round of competition

By Allen Payton

Six members of the Deer Valley High School Mock Trial Team led by Coach Brian Kofford from the Law and Justice Academy, received awards during this year’s Contra Costa County competition. The team made it to round three before being eliminated. (See the complete Mock Trial competition results).

The annual competition was won by San Ramon’s California High School Mock Trial Team for the third year in a row. The Grizzlies bested Acalanes, who took second place in the final round, and third place Miramonte beat Monte Vista which took fourth place in the Consolation round.

The Cal High team will represent county at the 39th Annual California State Mock Trial Finals on March 20-22 in Los Angeles, CA.

The Wolverines lost to Dougherty Valley High of San Ramon in the first round of competition on Tuesday, Jan. 28 but came back to beat De Anza High of Richmond in the second round on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Then, in the third round Monte Vista bested Deer Valley to move on to the next round of competition.

Four members of the Deer Valley team received a Judges’ Choice Honorable Mention: Janae Burks, Katherine Muster, Caitlin Todd and Savannah Turnage.

A Feb. 20th post on the Deer Valley High School Facebook page reads, “Congratulations to the DV Mock Trial Team and Coach Brian Kofford from the Law and Justice Academy. Tonight the team won several awards including Savannah Turnage, 2nd place for Best Closing Argument and 2nd for Best Cross-Examination as well as a Judge’s Choice Award, Courtney Johnson came in 1st place being a witness for the prosecution, Caitlin Todd won 2nd place for a different prosecution witness and a Judge’s Choice Award, Emma Crandell also won a prosecution witness award, Katherine Mustar won a Judge’s Choice Award as a defense witness and finally Janae Burks won a Judge’s Choice Award as an expert prosecution witness. Six students won nine awards total.”

Mock Trial Overview

The Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). Each year CRF creates a mock trial that addresses serious matters facing young people today.

Each team works with teacher and attorney coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, both from the prosecution and defense perspective. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pretrial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs. Through these role-playing techniques, students learn about the content and processes of law in an exciting and vibrant way. Also, by studying the case and preparing strategies and arguments for trial, students increase their public speaking skills, analytical ability and team cooperation.

Some high schools offer the Mock Trial Program as a class rather than an extra-curricular activity.

At the State Finals, the winning teams from 36 counties will present People v. Matsumoto, the trial of Bailey Matsumoto. Bailey is the founder of a technology start-up that develops autonomous (self-driving) trucks. Bailey is charged with murder, which is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice afterthought. The pretrial issue involves the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Courtroom Art Contest

Students also had the opportunity to compete as courtroom artists by participating in the Courtroom Art Contest, a companion program to Mock Trials. As courtroom artists, students accompany their Mock Trial teams and sketch courtroom scenes that are later judged by a team of art judges. Download artist rules and registration information. The winner, Reese Whipple of Miramonte High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

Courtroom Journalism Contest

Students were given an opportunity to report on a Mock Trial from the perspective of a journalist. As courtroom reporters, students will accompany their school’s Mock Trial teams to the preliminary rounds of the competition. Courtroom reporters will then write and submit one 500-word news article on the trial they attended. Articles were judged by a panel of specialists. The winner, Christine Oh of California High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

See the list of all 2020 award winners here.

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Antioch awarded $2.95 million state grant for park improvements

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Contra Loma Estates Park. Photo by City of Antioch Parks and Recreation Department.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Antioch City Council received positive news about a state grant the city was awarded for improvements to the Contra Loma Estates Park. The city applied for state funds through a competitive process designed to “create new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California” according to the Statewide Parks Program webpage.

The park is located at the corner of Mahogany Way and Manzanita Way.

According to Nancy Kaiser, Antioch’s Parks and Recreation Department Director, there were “478 applications in this latest round” and “a $2.3 billion total ask.”

The funds are from Proposition 68 state parks and water bonds, which voters passed in 2018. It authorized “$4 billion in general obligation bonds for state and local parks, environmental protection projects, water infrastructure projects, and flood protection projects,” according to Ballotpedia.

“The state granted a total of $254.9 million and approved 62 projects statewide,” she added. “The Contra Loma Estates Park application was $2.9 million.”

The $2,952,000 in state funds will be used for the renovations to the park, including constructing new outdoor gym and exercise equipment, a shaded picnic and BBQ area, shaded structure, dog park, walking and jogging exercise pathway, climbing feature, lighting and fencing for existing basketball court, restroom, and lighting throughout the park.

The average grant request statewide was $4.8 million, and the average grant amount was $4.1 million, according to the California State Parks Statewide Parks Program webpage. It “is the largest park related grant program in California’s history.”

Only three projects in the county were approved. Two in Richmond and the one in Antioch.

Asked if the city received the entire amount, Kaiser replied “yes” to applause from the council.

“So, congratulations to everyone,” she said.

“Congratulations to you and all of us,” said Mayor Sean Wright. “Thank you, staff for the hard work.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for our city that was made possible by the hard work and dedication of our Parks and Recreation Department,” said Kaiser. “We are always working to develop key partnerships that will work with us to enhance the parks and recreation experience for our residents. On behalf of the city of Antioch, I’d like to thank the State of California for their investment in our community.”

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