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Berkeley Perk: A Team Dedicated to Employee Health and Wellness

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Kim Guess, UC Berkeley’s registered dietitian, teaches employees at the Haas School of Business how to make no-cook chia pudding, chia jam and an orange poppyseed salad, during a cooking class sponsored by Be Well at Work. (UC Berkeley photo by Jeremy Snowden)

By Will Kane

Kim Guess works for UC Berkeley. Her job is to make sure her colleagues — all 8,300 staff and 3,800 faculty — eat enough fruits and vegetables. She offers cooking classes, runs an “Ask a Dietitian” email advice line and oversees a new policy ensuring the campus offers more healthy options.

Guess, a registered dietitian, works for Berkeley’s Be Well at Work program, a collection of services run through University Health Services to help staff and faculty with nettlesome issues like raising a family, balancing technology use, buying a house, dealing with the death of a loved one, caring for an aging parent or avoiding workplace injuries, among other topics.

All staff and faculty on campus have access to the classes, one-on-one counseling sessions and wellness programs. For free.

“When it comes to people’s finance, there can be a question of how you look for help or where you begin,” said Karen Patchell, who runs Be Well at Work’s financial literacy programs. “We try to make that easy for you.”

Patchell regularly gets questions about saving for retirement or building a down payment fund and connects employees with financial counselors from Fidelity Investments, Berkeley’s retirement plan administrator, or Bank of the West, the campus’s official bank.

“A lot of times people think buying a home in the Bay Area is impossible, and then they meet with one of the counselors and they start to see that it might be possible,” she said. The counselors can also help with issues like paying down credit card debt or saving money.

Mallory Lynch, meanwhile, spends her day making sure employees don’t get injured at work. She’s one of two full-time ergonomists — they call themselves the posture police — who coordinate a team of deputy workstation evaluators across the campus.

“Each office should have one,” she said of the evaluators. “Find out who they are and ask for an evaluation. Eighty-five percent of injuries come from people using their mouse incorrectly.”

And cost shouldn’t be a barrier. Lynch’s office has a matching fund to help cash-poor departments buy ergonomic mice, keyboards or new chairs.

“The stuff doesn’t cost that much,” she said. “You can’t afford not to do it because then you get hurt and then your morale suffers. The idea is to fit the job to the worker. If someone is having pain or discomfort, they should talk to their supervisor.”

And yes, you should eat more vegetables, said Guess, the campus dietitian.

“Whenever possible, try to make half your plate fruit or vegetables,” she recommended.

“That can make the biggest difference. Ask yourself at each meal, how am I going to get those vegetables in there?”

But changing diet can be easier said than done, Guess acknowledged. She can help with that too.

She runs a six-week behavior-change class called “I CAN!” that includes nutrition classes, a cooking seminar, a grocery store visit led by Guess and before-and-after fitness assessments.

“We want you to feel healthy and well,” she said. “That’s why we’re here.”

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Bay Area

Ready to Travel? Get the REAL ID!  

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

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DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.
DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.

By Carrie Stanton, Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles

The holidays are here and families are excited to get together and celebrate for the first time in over a year. Amid the pandemic, we’ve missed far too many Sunday and holiday dinners that have been a tradition for many families for generations.

For our community, family dinner is about creating memories. For those families who will be traveling this holiday season, I encourage you to consider adding a REAL ID upgrade to your checklist when making your travel plans.

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

While getting a REAL ID isn’t required, it does make it easier to continue using your driver’s license to board a local flight or visit loved ones on military bases. To help make this change, the California DMV is offering free upgrades to people who renewed their license or ID card between March 2020 and July 2021 from now until Dec. 31, 2021.

Protecting the health, safety and security of our communities is what’s important and the REAL ID provides an extra layer of protection when traveling. Applying is easy and can be started safely online at CaliforniaREALID.org. Complete your application, upload the required forms, and plan your DMV office visit to finish. Don’t forget your documents and confirmation code– they will be needed for your visit.

Whether you are applying for a first-time California driver’s license or identification card or are up for renewal, a REAL ID may be the best option, especially if you plan to travel soon. Get back to creating those memories with your family. With shorter wait periods and an easy application process, now is the perfect time to start your REAL ID application so you’re ready to go when the time is right.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, many things in our lives are changing. In our community, many have started businesses, changed their lifestyles for the better and found new passions in life. Whatever is helping you get through these rough times is also playing a part in figuring out our new normal. Make the REAL ID part of that new normal.

Carrie Stanton is Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Bay Area

San Francisco Declares Water Shortage Emergency in Response to Statewide Drought

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

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With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.
With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

Voluntary action calls for 10% reduction in water usage system-wide

From S.F. Mayor’s Office

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) last week  declared a water shortage emergency and approved measures aimed at further conserving and reducing water usage across the SFPUC’s service territory in response to exceptionally dry weather conditions that have affected the entire state over the past two years.

As a result of the emergency measure, which the SFPUC unanimously approved, San Francisco has declared a 10% reduction in water usage across its regional system.

The 10% reduction will be compared to water use from July 2019 to June 2020 and will be applied to all of the SFPUC’s 2.7 million customers, which include customers in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. The call for voluntary water reduction will go into effect immediately.

“With California still experiencing devastating drought and the uncertainty around this rainy season, we need to make tough decisions that will ensure that our water source continues to be reliable and dependable for the future,” said Breed.

“Year after year, San Franciscans step up to conserve our most precious resource, resulting in one of the lowest water usage rates in California, and during this critical time, I know that our City will once again meet the call to reduce water use,” she said. “I applaud the SFPUC Commission for declaring a water shortage emergency and urging our customers to be mindful of their water usage.

“We are in a drought with far-reaching consequences, and it has become clear we all need to do even more to address it,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “San Franciscans have been doing their part and have some of the lowest water usage in the state. This emergency water shortage declaration will help all of our customers pull together and move in the same direction. We know we can rely on each other. I’m confident that everyone will do their part so we can all get through this.”

With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

The messages will be conveyed in multiple languages and will include tips and resources on actions that customers can take to reduce their water usage to help achieve the 10% reduction system-wide, such as fixing leaky toilets, installing low-flow fixtures, reducing outdoor irrigation, and receiving water usage audits from SFPUC professionals.

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

However, with the state continuing to experience extremely dry weather overall, the SFPUC is expanding on those efforts by declaring a water shortage emergency, which will help the agency access water reserves and resources available only during emergencies.

The SFPUC has about 360,000 acre-feet of reserve water in its water bank. An acre-foot is enough water for about two California households annually on average.

However, the State Water Board’s curtailment orders, emergency regulations issued in August 2021 that restrict diversions from the Tuolumne River watershed, effectively prevent the SFPUC from accessing that water bank.

Due to the Water Board’s curtailment orders, the SFPUC and its retail and wholesale customers are less prepared to address drought conditions moving forward.

“We need everyone to take action to preserve and stretch our limited water supplies,” SFPUC Commission President Anson Moran said. “San Franciscans and our wholesale customers have been doing a good job when it comes to being efficient with their water use. We can all do better. We look forward to working with all of our customers to further reduce water use.”

Declaring a water shortage emergency carries with it the requirement that the SFPUC institute a temporary drought surcharge for retail water and wastewater customers of up to 5% on part of their bill.

The SFPUC Commission voted to introduce the surcharge on April 1, 2022. The effect on the average residential customer’s bill is estimated to be a little over $6 per month if they made no reductions to their water use. The temporary drought surcharge will automatically end when the SFPUC Commission rescinds the water shortage emergency declaration.

Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a Drought Emergency for 50 of the 58 counties in California and called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%. The state’s ongoing drought has increased the significance of water reuse, recycling, and conservation programs, measures SFPUC has long championed.

More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater.

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Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

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According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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