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Doctors at Roots Community Health Center Provide Straight Forward Information on COVID Risks for Oakland Families

So far in Alameda County, there were 99,681 recorded COVID-19 cases, more than 2,500 more cases than last week, and 1,291 COVID deaths.

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Roots Community Health Center offers free testing.

Roots Community Health Center is presenting weekly health briefings

The Roots Community Health Center, located at 9925 International Blvd. in Oakland, is hosting an online weekly People’s Health Briefing on Facebook, offering  straight-forward information about what parents, families, teachers and school staff need to know to stay safe as the Delta variant surges to extreme levels in East and West Oakland.

 

Presenting the health briefing this week, “A Parent’s Guide to School Reopening,  were Dr. Noha Aboelata, MD, founder and CEO of the health center, and Dr. Aisha Mays, MD, the center’s director of adolescent and school-based services. The briefing is available online at www.facebook.com/rootsempowers/videos/719407845555581

Roots serves some of the people most vulnerable to catching COVID-19.

So far in Alameda County, there were 99,681 recorded COVID-19 cases, more than 2,500 more cases than last week, and 1,291 COVID deaths.

Overall, the county is doing well with vaccinations: 85.7% of those who are 12 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine; and 72.4% are fully vaccinated, though rates vary in different neighborhoods.

However, children under 12, who are ineligible for vaccination, make up 15% of the total population.

Alameda County hospitalizations continue to rise. There are now 208 individuals in hospitals, compared to 179 last week.

Dr. Mays discussed the danger of COVID-19 for children. As of August 5, 4.3 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, she said.  While many children have milder symptoms or no symptoms, some have gotten very sick and some have died, including infants under the age of one and children and youth with health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, sickle cell anemia and diabetes. Only 30% of children eligible to receive the vaccine have been vaccinated in the U.S.

Some parents are still trying to decide whether to send their children to in-person or distance learning, said Dr. Aboelata.  “We know that no matter what we do we are going to be sacrificing something. This is about laying out the risks of each of our choices.”

With in-person schooling, parents worry their children might catch COVID, whether they might become seriously ill or might spread the infection it to someone in the home or family.

Distance learning risks include the danger of parents or caregivers losing income, increased screen time for children and doing poorly academically, as well as socially and emotionally.

A group of physicians and community leaders recently got together to express their concerns and make recommendation to the superintendent and school board of the Oakland Unified School District. See these recommendations in  the Oakland Post, “Medical Professionals Call on Oakland School Leaders to Increase  COVID-19 Protections.”

One central issue is whether students are vaccinated. Of course, everyone under 12 years old  is unvaccinated, and no vaccine will be likely  available for them later this year, according to Dr. Aboelata.

Young people who catch COVID generally do better than adults though that is not always the case.

Young people are also present the danger of infecting others. In California, 590,000 senior citizens live with school-age children. “This is more likely to be the case in households of color and can exacerbate the disparities that are already a reality of this pandemic,” she said.

Already, African Americans in Alameda County are dying at about double the rate of other residents and since April, African Americans account for the highest number of new COVID-19 cases. “This is a disparity that continues to widen,” she said.

To understand exactly how the pandemic is unfolding and to respond to it, officials must have routine testing or surveillance at each school, “which is not being implemented at any of the  (district’s) school sites, ”  said Aboelata.

Since there is no school site data, the best way to look at the risks is to examine community case rates. “If community transmission is high, then students and staff are more likely to come to school while infectious,” she said.

The county average of positivity case rates is 5%. There are four Oakland zip codes  with extremely high positivity rates of between 9% and 12%: 94607 in West Oakland,  and 94605, 94621 and 94603 in East Oakland. “94603 is the highest with a 12% positivity rate,” she said.

“We’d like to see a positivity rate of under 5% to be safe for in-person activities, “ she said. “(But) these decisions are being made on a county-wide and city-wide basis,” and ignore the great variation in case rates in different parts of the city that impact the number of cases that are potentially brought into a school.

If officials know the vaccination status of teachers and staff, the school can require an N95 mask and routine testing for unvaccinated teachers and staff in order to protect unvaccinated students, she said.

Vaccination rates in Oakland are extremely variable depending on the neighborhood but are generally 3 percentage points behind the county. About 69% of the people who are eligible are fully vaccinated in Oakland, but in some census tracts,  rates are as low as 38%.

And then there is the issue of physical distancing. “We understand that it is not a requirement for OUSD to have distancing, but it is important to have the maximum distancing possible,” she said.  “Distancing is most important to prevent droplet transmission. If  schools “are trying to get too many people into an enclosed space … we become much more concerned about aerosol transmission, which is the main way that COVID-19 is spread,” she said.

If too many people are packed into a room, that could overwhelm the ventilation strategy, including the use of windows, doors and commercial air purifiers.

Testing is also a serious issue. “Per OUSD, all testing is optional or simply recommended,” she said. “This is most problematic when it relates to anyone with symptoms. We believe that testing should absolutely be required for anyone with symptoms that could be COVID-19.”

“If you have symptoms that could be COVID-19, you have no business setting foot on a school campus until you’ve  proven that it is not COVID-19. Children who have symptoms that could be COVID-19 if possible, should take a test that shows all possible viruses that are now circulating in the region, not just COVID, she said.

Lastly, “we are concerned about how potential outbreaks will be managed,” she said. “We are concerned that the capacity for contact tracing in the county may not be sufficient for current volume let alone let alone  if there’s an outbreak at a school.”

She pointed out that the Berkeley Unified School District has online data available of positive cases by date at every school. This is the kind of transparency that OUSD should consider, she said.

 

The Oakland Post’s  coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Bay Area

Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

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U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

Castlemont High Coach Launches “Books Before Balls” Project

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

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Tamikia McCoy/Photo Courtesy of Tanya Dennis

 

Michael Franklin

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

For two years, she played with the Running Rebels, an Oakland all-star basketball team.  After earning many degrees, McCoy returned to her beloved Castlemont as Coach in 2019, and quickly realized a responsibility to her students beyond winning games and created Books Before Balls.

Another Castlemont alumni of that same year was not as fortunate as McCoy.  Like McCoy, Michael Franklin was a basketball beast.  He was awarded first team All-City for the Oakland Athletic League 1993-1994 and was Northern California’s All American that same year. 

Franklin continues to hold the record for scoring 43 points in one quarter in a game against McClymonds. Tragically, he was killed Dec. 14, 2016, at a gas station at 98th and Edes in Oakland.

Coach McCoy’s concerns about violence inspired her to create the Books Before Balls Project to address academic and social gaps that are working against student success. 

“For violence and bullying to cease, the underlying reasons have to be addressed,” said McCoy, “Food scarcity may seem unrelated to violence, but it’s a signal that economic opportunities are lacking, which leads to trauma and desperation.”  

McCoy is also concerned that Castlemont’s library was closed and is spearheading a campaign to reopen and revitalize the library.  

She has joined with Oakland Frontline Healers and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkids movement to address issues of food scarcity, lack of economic opportunity, lack of resources and lack of support for students entering college.  

Together, they are creating a model that is duplicatable and hopefully will be adopted at other OUSD schools. Oakland Frontline Healers are a collaborative of 30 nonprofits and doctors offering services, food, and resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  

Players and families will be tested weekly by Umoja Health before games, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for those that wish to take it.

With a grant from the Department of Violence Prevention, Building Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkidsmovement, are honoring Michael Franklin’s life by hosting a series of “Mike’s Knights” Basketball Tournaments at Castlemont High School beginning the last Friday in November.  

Participants will be paid stipends to participate in the league or cheer squad and will be tutored and mentored during the tournaments, which will include family forums to discuss ending violence in East Oakland.

Books Before Balls invites the community to donate to the organization to support the Lady Knights’ basketball team, the success program that funds first year college students, or join their initiative to reopen the library. 

 For more information contact:  Ladyknights2019@yahoo.com For youth interested in joining the eight-week tournament contact Adamika Village at adamikaadamika@gmail.com 

Together with school leaders and administrators, and with the support of Oakland Frontline Healers, Books Before Balls is staging a “Student’s Against Bullying” event Friday, Sept. 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Activism

Bay Area Officials Condemn Texas Abortion Restrictions, U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Bay Area and state officials lambasted both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas state government after the high court declined to approve an emergency petition to stop a Texas law banning abortions six weeks or more after conception.

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Law Books/Clarisse Meyer Via Unsplash

Bay Area and state officials lambasted both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas state government after the high court declined to approve an emergency petition to stop a Texas law banning abortions six weeks or more after conception.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law, Senate Bill 8, in May, but it went into effect September 1 at 12:01 a.m. local time.
Late that night, the court issued a 5-4 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s three liberal justices in the minority, declining to rule on the petition, which was filed by Texas abortion clinics.
The court could still strike the law down in the coming days as unconstitutional, but abortion rights activists expressed skepticism that the court would do so after letting the law go into effect in the first place.
The law effectively overwrites the precedent set in 1973 by the court’s ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade by preventing pregnant people from seeking an abortion after their sixth week of pregnancy, a time when many people are not yet even aware that they are pregnant.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, called SB 8 “one of the most severe attacks on reproductive rights” in U.S. history.
“SB 8 is an appalling violation of human rights and reproductive rights, and will put the health of millions of people in jeopardy, especially for low-income people and people of color,” Lee said in a statement.
SB 8 does not make exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest and allows people to sue doctors, medical staff and even a patient’s ride to a medical clinic if they suspect the patient has had an abortion after six weeks.
Plaintiffs also are not required to show damages or have a connection to the patient to file a lawsuit under SB 8, and are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees if a judge rules in their favor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the law constructed a “vigilante bounty system” that could keep people from seeking reproductive health care of any kind.
“This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman’s right to health care but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Vice President Kamala Harris echoed that sentiment.
“This decision is not the last word on Roe v. Wade, and we will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions,” Harris said in a statement. “We will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and intimidation for patients.”
Jodi Hicks, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, argued in a statement that the Supreme Court’s decision will inevitably lead to other states passing their own abortion restrictions.
Nearly a dozen states have already passed so-called “abortion trigger laws” that would fully outlaw the practice in the first and second trimesters as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“The inaction by the Supreme Court on a blatantly unconstitutional ban has taken away a crucial right to millions of people in Texas and without a doubt threatens their ability to make decisions about their body, their lives, and their futures,” Hicks said.
On September 2, Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives will formally take up legislation to codify abortion rights in federal law instead of relying on the court decision alone.
However, that bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, is unlikely to find enough support in the U.S. Senate to reach President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature.
Biden said in a statement on September 1 that SB 8 “blatantly violates” the decision in Roe v. Wade and pledged to defend abortion rights across the country, but did not elaborate on what that might entail.
California Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, argued in a Twitter post that the purpose of SB 8 is clear: “to intimidate women (and) providers.”
“It cannot stand,” she said.

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