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Marin Aligns with State on Face Covering Guidelines Universal Indoor Masking Returns to All Indoor Public Spaces

Effective as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, previous local face covering exemptions carved out for indoor spaces with consistent cohorts of fully vaccinated people will no longer apply. Now, all people in Marin County, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings, in accordance with the state-wide mandate. This includes gyms, fitness centers, office settings, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and similar settings.

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Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, speaks with a woman at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic earlier this year.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, speaks with a woman at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic earlier this year.

Courtesy of Marin County

With COVID-19 case rates rising rapidly, Marin County Public Health is aligning with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and requiring the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public places to stem the virus’ spread.

Effective as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, previous local face covering exemptions carved out for indoor spaces with consistent cohorts of fully vaccinated people will no longer apply. Now, all people in Marin County, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings, in accordance with the state-wide mandate. This includes gyms, fitness centers, office settings, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and similar settings.

The first case of Omicron variant in Marin was identified on Dec. 17. Since then, average daily COVID-19 case counts have tripled, fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant. On Dec. 28, 338 new cases were reported, exceeding the prior highest daily case count by more than 100 cases.

“When we see numbers like this, it’s time to respond,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “The mask exemption for certain settings was a pre-Omicron policy. This variant behaves differently, and the risk of infection in a room full of vaccinated people who are unmasked is much higher now.”

Despite rising case counts, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 infections have remained stable across Marin. That is attributed to Marin County’s very high vaccination rate: 92.1% of Marin’s population ages 5 and over have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. Still, health authorities express concern that hospitalization rates could increase significantly in the coming days if case counts continue to rise at current rates.

CDPH’s statewide indoor mask mandate went into effect Dec. 15. At that time, Marin and other local counties were given an option to adopt a pre-existing mask order in lieu of the state’s order. Marin and five other jurisdictions — the counties of Sonoma, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, and the city of Berkeley — adopted local orders that allowed some exemptions not found in the state’s policy. The recension of the local order means Marin now falls under CDPH’s mask order, which remains in effect through at least Jan. 15, 2022.

On Dec. 28, Contra Costa County made a similar announcement, issuing a new health order that removed limited exemptions to indoor mask use.

COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses, continue to offer the most effective protection against hospitalization and death from all variants of COVID-19 circulating in the Bay Area.

Safe, free, and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone ages 5 and up. Book an appointment or find a nearby clinic on GetVaccinatedMarin.org.

More information face coverings, local policies, and resources for businesses, including printable signs, can be found at Coronavirus.MarinHHS.org/masks.

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Bay Area

Planning Commission to Hold Public Hearing on Oakland A’s Real Estate Project

The Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided.

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By Post Staff

The Oakland Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Oakland A’s Stadium and Real Estate Development. It will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m., according to a city media release.

“During the hearing, the Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided” according to the media release.

The 3,500-page report was released the week before Christmas 2021, leaving little time for community advocates to read and critique the report.

After the commission makes a recommendation, the Oakland City Council will consider certification of the Final EIR, likely in February. A “yes” vote by the council does not mean the project is approved but is a major first step toward approval.

Community advocates are asking the commission to postpone the meeting, so that the community has time to read and analyze the 3,500-page report in time to provide public comment. You can contact the commission at drarmstrong@oaklandca.gov or cpayne@oaklandca.gov.

The following are Planning Commission members:

• Clark Manus, Chair

• Jonathan Fearn, Vice-Chair

• Sahar Shiraz

• Tom Limon

• Vince Sugrue

• Jennifer Renk

• Leopold A Ray-Lynch

To read the Final EIR, go to:  https://bit.ly/32KZ3pT

 

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Bay Area

Port of Oakland Aims to Help Agriculture Producers Export Products More Quickly

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement. The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

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The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)
The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)

By Keith Burbank, Bay City News

The flow of agricultural exports may improve at the Port of Oakland after it sets aside quick-access space for containers, assists exporters, and if more cargo carriers restore service to Oakland, port officials said Monday.

Twenty-five acres will be used to operate an off-terminal, paved yard to store containers for rapid pick-up following their removal from chassis.

The yard, which may open in March, will allow trucks to turn around more quickly than is currently possible in the terminal. Agricultural exporters will also get help using the yard from state and federal agencies.

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement.

The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

But it’s not entirely clear the yard will make a huge difference unless more ships stop at the Port to pick up the exports.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said.

Port officials have restored one key route to Tokyo and China. Also, four carriers have recently made Oakland their first stop en route from Asia. But that may not be enough to relieve the shortage of export containers in Oakland.

An import surge in the U.S. has ships waiting to offload cargo in Southern California. When they do, they offload cargo that would typically come to Oakland and then turn around and immediately go back to Asia.

The containers that could be used for exports never make it to Oakland.

Port cargo volume is typically 50% imports and 50% exports so usually enough containers exist at the Port.

Many agricultural exporters and meat producers prefer to ship their products through Oakland because it’s closer than other ports.

The container shortage has been a problem for a year. The problem recently prompted a meeting between farm producers, transportation executives and Port officials and resulted in the steps the Port is now taking.

A solution is important because the state’s agricultural export industry is worth billions of dollars.

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Alton Thomas Stiles

California Adds Twist to New CDC Advice on Quarantines

California’s updated guidance differs from the CDC’s in one important way. The state is recommending that people who quarantine after a positive diagnosis take a follow-up test and get a negative result before ending isolation. The CDC’s guidelines do not include taking another test after quarantining.

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A masked worker stands behind a sign warning of a quarantine. iStock photo.
A masked worker stands behind a sign warning of a quarantine. iStock photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

The Monday after Christmas, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened its COVID-19 quarantine recommendation by half.

That same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Twitter that California will follow suit, recommending a five-day isolation period instead of the state’s former guidance of 10 days.

“California will align with the CDC’s updated guidelines for isolation and quarantine time,” Newsom tweeted.

However, California’s updated guidance differs from the CDC’s in one important way. The state is recommending that people who quarantine after a positive diagnosis take a follow-up test and get a negative result before ending isolation.

The CDC’s guidelines do not include taking another test after quarantining.

The CDC said its decision, in part, is based on science that shows people are most infectious during the first five days of catching the virus.

In an interview with NPR, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said another rationale for the new shortened guidance is the concern for keeping industries that are critical to the national economy operating.

Sharing this concern, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, along with the company’s medical advisor Dr. Carlos del Rio and Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting, sent a letter to Walensky less than a week before CDC’s updated recommendation, requesting a five-day isolation period for Delta’s fully vaccinated employees.

The letter argued that the previous guidelines were out of date and did not account for vaccinations.

It also argued that the former 10-day isolation period would hurt business because with the spread of the Omicron variant, vaccinated workers who do catch COVID-19 would be out for a longer period of time.

“With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations,” the letter read. “Similar to healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions.”

In December 2020, the CDC shortened its previous recommendation of a 14-day isolation period to 10 days.

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

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