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Coronavirus

Discussing Delta: Four Influential Black Women Share Views on the Variant and Vaccination

Four influential California Black women came together for a Facebook Live conversation focused on the Delta variant of COVID-19, the safety of vaccines and how they work.

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Facebook Live Session Screen Capture, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

Dr. Rhea Boyd, pediatrician, and minority community health advocate was the medical expert on the panel hosted by Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, with the support of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The other two participants were former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford and Teala Dunn, an actress and social media influencer.

The discussion was livestreamed on the CDPH’s Facebook page and is still available to the public.

With Wilson moderating, Dunn and Crawford posed a series of questions to Boyd – inquiries that reflected some of the most common concerns African Americans have regarding the COVID vaccine.

“We are actually at the most dangerous point in this pandemic that we have been in yet,” Boyd responded. “The Delta variant is more than twice as contagious, which means you’re more likely to be exposed to it right now if you’re out in the community. Because of that, it’s spreading like wildfire.”

Crawford shared that she has contracted the Cornonavirus twice.  She was unvaccinated during her first bout and experienced another breakthrough case after being vaccinated.

“The first time I got COVID, I lost my sense of smell for nine months. I had plenty of lingering symptoms afterwards. Thankfully, I didn’t have to end up in the ICU for anything. The second time around when I got COVID with the Moderna vaccine, my symptoms were cut in half. It felt like the common cold that time around. So, I felt very lucky to be vaccinated.”

The conversation also addressed – and debunked — many misconceptions about the vaccine and its effects on the body. Dunn asked a question went to the heart of a major concern among Black women: reproductive health and the vaccine. Could the vaccine negatively affect pregnancy and cause changes in menstruation patterns.

“We have the lowest vaccination rate in our community,” said Boyd. “Nine out of 10 Black pregnant women do not have a COVID vaccine, and I want you to consider getting one, but I understand your concern because you want to keep your baby safe.  And what I want to say as a doctor is the No. 1 way to protect your baby and yourself during this pandemic is to get the COVID vaccine.”

Boyd went on to explain that if you breast feed after you deliver, mothers can share the immunity and antibodies that you build up from the vaccine to your child through your breast milk. She also assured the panel that the vaccine did not have any effect on menstrual patterns. She attributed an uptick in those cases to the increased stress and overall environment we are living in during the pandemic.

So far in California, 48.4 million people have received at least one COVID vaccine. That number represents more than 80% of the state’s population who are eligible to get it. About 22.2 million Californians are fully vaccinated, accounting for more than 56% of the state’s total population.

Boyd said many Blacks want to hear from a Black provider about the vaccine. But only 4% of our physician workforce is Black. We can’t talk to everybody one-on-one, which is why we have events like this one so you we can try and tell as many people as possible and hear from my face to yours that this vaccine is safe.”

Dunn responded to the information by asking what we can do to help protect our communities and what we can tell our friends and oved ones who are still unsure about the vaccine.

“Black folks have been through a lot with the pandemic. We know the toll that COVID-19 takes, and we are the most motivated to do something about it,” Boyd said. “Unfortunately, Vitamin D supplements and exercise are not enough to prevent anyone from getting the virus.”

For additional information about access to the COVID vaccine, visit vaccinateall58.com to find a local clinic or call 833-422-4255 to have your questions answered.

You can also watch the recording of the Facebook Live here.

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Activism

Welcoming Homes Needed in Marin for Youth in Foster Care

Just in time for Foster Care Awareness Month, the Marin Foster Care Association, and Children & Family Services is launching Lunch and Learns, new monthly one-hour, in-person gatherings that will include lunch with foster parents who will share about their experiences and answer questions. The gatherings set up to serve as a casual way to learn more about the foster care system in Marin and how others can help support youth in the community.

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Resource parent Linda and her son are considered one of Marin’s fostering successes.
Resource parent Linda and her son are considered one of Marin’s fostering successes.

Many are placed outside of the county due to a lack of resource families

Courtesy of Marin County

Parenting always has its ups and downs, but it has been particularly challenging over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would like to recognize and thank those who stood by the children in foster care and started the process of becoming a resource parent during particularly stressful times. It is also promoting a new way for potential foster parents to learn about resource families.

On May 10, the Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming May Foster Care Awareness Month, prompting Bree Marchman, Division Director of Marin HHS Children & Family Services, to express her gratitude.

“Children & Family Services would not be able to serve our community without the support of our local resource parents and siblings, and we are deeply indebted to their commitments to the welfare of foster children,” she said.

The resolution recognized those who authentically engage with youth to build lasting relationships. Resource families are often the place where a child can begin their healing journey. Studies show that it takes just one committed adult to make a world of difference in a child’s life. Resource families do more than support the children, they often support the parents on their healing journey as well, helping to reunify families and often becoming integral members of the child’s extended family. When reunification can’t happen, those families sometimes find themselves providing a forever family to a special child.

Just in time for Foster Care Awareness Month, the Marin Foster Care Association, and Children & Family Services is launching Lunch and Learns, new monthly one-hour, in-person gatherings that will include lunch with foster parents who will share about their experiences and answer questions. The gatherings set up to serve as a casual way to learn more about the foster care system in Marin and how others can help support youth in the community.

Online registration is open.

The need for more families, especially for teens, has been a constant even prior to COVID-19. Marin averages 85 youth in foster care and nearly 40% of them, mostly teens, are placed in homes outside of Marin. Anyone who has ever considered fostering is welcome to learn more at an information meeting. Online meetings are held monthly, hosted by a social worker and a resource parent who discuss the application process, training, and support available, as well as answer questions. For more information and to register for an orientation meeting, visit www.FosterOurFuture.org or call Leslie Fields at (415) 473-6418.

Children enter the child welfare system through no fault of their own and deserve to live in safe and supportive homes. Every effort is made to keep children in their community, to keep siblings together, and to create good matches between kids and families. To do that, Marin needs a larger, more diverse pool of homes for foster children. Resource families can provide temporary care to children while biological families work toward reunification, or they can choose to be an adoptive family; both are needed.

While not everyone is able to foster a child, any adult can volunteer with the Friends of the Family Program to provide support to resource families. Interested applicants will work with Children and Family Services and the Marin County Volunteers Program to become approved as a Friend of the Family. The assessment process varies depending on the level of involvement a prospective participant will have and may include a background check and an interview with a social worker.

For more information and the application, visit FosterOurFutureMarin.org.

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Business

Oakland City Council Considers Proposal to Limit City’s Highest Annual Rent Hike in History

In Oakland, landlords can raise rents up to 100% of the inflation rate. So, a 6.7% increase in inflation this year means that landlords can raise rents the same percentage. For an apartment rented for $2,000 a month, the 6.7% rent increase would mean that a tenant’s rent would increase more than $100 to $2,134 a month.

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By Brandon Patterson

Last month, Oakland housing regulators announced that starting in July, landlords would be permitted to raise rents by up to 6.7% — the highest annual increase in the city’s history. The announcement prompted an outcry from renters at City Council meetings and hearings in recent weeks – and calls to local councilmembers.

Now, City Council is considering a proposal to limit the rent increase and give renters, many of whom are already struggling, some needed relief.

In many Bay Area cities, where housing has been an issue for decades, the amount landlords are allowed to raise rents every year is tied to inflation. This stabilizes rents by limiting increases, ensuring more security for renters’ households.

In Oakland, landlords can raise rents up to 100% of the inflation rate. So, a 6.7% increase in inflation this year means that landlords can raise rents the same percentage. For an apartment rented for $2,000 a month, the 6.7% rent increase would mean that a tenant’s rent would increase more than $100 to $2,134 a month.

This deviates from other cities like Berkeley and San Francisco, however, where the annual allowable rent increase is capped at 65% and 60% of inflation, respectively, according to Oaklandside. That means that for the same $2,000 apartment, rents would increase to about $2,087 in Berkeley or $2084 in San Francisco — about $50 less.

Housing justice and tenants’ rights groups have long criticized how differently Oakland calculates its rent hikes from other cities, and earlier this month, District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife introduced a bill to bring Oakland’s calculator more in line with other cities. The bill would reduce the allowable annual rent increase to just 60% of inflation. It would also cap the allowable rent increase to 3% of the current rent, even if the inflation rate would allow for a higher one.

“I do want to create some security for renters,” Fife told NBC Bay Area in a recent interview. “Oakland is a majority renter city: Over 60% of the residents of the city of Oakland are renters, and it doesn’t make sense to put them in this type of jeopardy.”

“It’s not like we’re coming out of COVID—it’s all around us,” Mark Dias, co-chair of the Oakland Tenants Union, told Oaklandside. “If tenants weren’t able to financially recover from that period of time, they’re also going to be hit with an increase that is legal,” adding that he was “astonished” by the pending rent hike this year.

But some property owners are pushing back, arguing that increases in the cost of operating housing necessitates the higher rent hike. “There has also been an extraordinary increase in everything: water, gas, electric, sewer, repair services, equipment, appliances, plumbing,” Derek Barnes, CEO of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, told NBC Bay Area. “You also have a housing stock that’s older, that really needs a lot of maintenance.”

The law is scheduled for a vote on May 31. If it passes before the current allowable rent hike goes into effect on July 1, then the lower allowable increase will take effect instead.

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Bay Area

Bay Area Health Officers Urge Public to Take Precautions as COVID-19 Levels Rise

The Bay Area now has California’s highest COVID-19 infection rates, fueled by highly contagious Omicron subvariants. Bay Area counties are seeing increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater, and hospitalizations. Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of widespread use of home tests.

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Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

Courtesy of Marin County

Twelve Bay Area health officers are emphasizing the importance of taking safety precautions, including continued masking indoors, as the region experiences a new swell of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Bay Area now has California’s highest COVID-19 infection rates, fueled by highly contagious Omicron subvariants. Bay Area counties are seeing increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater, and hospitalizations. Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of widespread use of home tests.

The health officers reiterate their continued, strong support for people to mask up indoors, keep tests handy, and ensure they are up to date on vaccinations by getting boosters when eligible.

“As cases rise around us, it’s important to understand that more people around you are likely infected or have been exposed,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “Masks are an easy tool you can use to protect yourself and lower your risk of infection.”

The grim milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, reached earlier this week, underscores the need for continued vigilance against the virus.

Although not required, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most public indoor settings, and health officials say wearing higher-quality masks (N95/KN95 or snug-fitting surgical masks) indoors is a wise choice. Vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19.

Health officials say people should also stay home and get tested right away if they feel sick. Officials also encourage getting tested after potential exposure and limiting large gatherings to well ventilated spaces or outdoors. For those more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 infection, medications are available that can reduce chances of severe illness and death. Talk with a health care provider right away if a test comes back positive.

This statement has been endorsed by health officers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma as well as the City of Berkeley.

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