To connect residents with the most appropriate resources
Working in partnership with cities across Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has launched a comprehensive review of existing behavioral health crisis response services to develop a vision for how to connect residents with the most appropriate resources where and when they are needed.
In close collaboration with city leaders through the Contra Costa Public Managers Association, community stakeholders, service providers and staff from across the county participated in a multi-day workshop to identify current resources and next steps. Workshop participants included those working in crisis response, community-based organizations, schools, police and dispatch, as well as clinicians and persons and family members with lived experiences. The team spent the past two weeks observing, analyzing and interviewing subject matter experts and looking at data about the current state of crisis response in Contra Costa County to develop a vision for the future and identify areas for improvement.
- Behavioral health issues are widespread
- About one in five adults are currently experiencing behavioral health issues
- About 13% of all EMS calls address mental health issues
- There are between 10,000 and 11,000 involuntary psychiatric holds (5150s) in our county each year
- CCHS provides a variety of behavioral health services. A limited number provide crisis response, however none provide emergent response like 911.
- Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)
- Homeless Services (H3 & HCH)
- Alcohol & Other Drug Services
- Medical and Psychiatric Emergency Services
- Behavioral Health Crisis Teams
- Existing crisis response resources serve a small number of residents
- Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) serves 293 people annually at a cost of $2 million
- Designed to reduce law enforcement repeat calls for service and violent encounters, reduce visits to Psychiatric Emergency Services, increase community and police safety, and increase appropriate use of mental health services.
- Mobile Crisis Team (MCRT) takes about 1,600 calls per year at a cost of $2 million, serves adults only
- MCRT is designed to have mental health providers respond in the field to de-escalate crisis, provide stabilization, and prevent psychiatric hospitalization. If the situation cannot be de-escalated in the field, the MCRT will assess for 5150 criteria and, if criteria are met, the Mental Health Clinical Specialist can initiate a 72-hour 5150 involuntary hold.
- In addition to responding in the community to the immediate situation that led to calling the MCRT, the team provides a 30-day period of follow up during which they focus on linking individuals to a variety of services to help them stabilize and prevent ongoing crisis experiences.
- Mobile Response Team (MRT) receives about 1,000 calls from youth each year, budget is $2.2 million
- Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) serves 293 people annually at a cost of $2 million
- MRT provides risk/safety assessments, crisis intervention, follow up services, collaboration with existing treatment team members and linkage for youth in their natural settings. The CCC MRT aims to provide same day services and/or services as close to 24 hours of immediate crisis.
- We have researched models from other communities
- Regardless of what model we choose, the key to success is alignment with our cities and community partners across the county.
The public is invited to hear the key findings and recommendations during a public report to be shown on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) on Saturday, November 21 at noon and 7 p.m., and Sunday, November 22 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The event can also be seen online at contracostatv.org during those scheduled times.
The process prioritized these areas of focus for the next steps:
- Identifying a single number to call for behavioral health crisis response
- Establishing a mobile crisis 24/7 response
- Evaluating non-police mobile crisis team composition
- Identifying alternate destinations for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis
Using the Lean Process Improvement Model, the team will spend the next several months planning for rapid improvement workshops to test potential strategies based on the four areas of focus. Results of this process will be presented to the Contra Costa Mayors Conference in February 2021.
For more information on CCHS Community Crisis Response, visit cchealth.org/bhs/crisis-response.Read More
By Fran Clader, Director of Communications, California Highway Patrol
California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray today issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s limited stay at home order:
“The health and safety of our employees and the public we serve is our highest priority. In an effort to preserve public health and safety of all Californians and stop the surge of COVID-19 cases, the Governor has instituted a limited stay at home order from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the goal that people will self-regulate their behavior, protect themselves, and go about only the ‘essential’ activities during those hours.
“The mission of the CHP is unchanged. CHP officers will continue to patrol throughout California and use their sound professional judgment to conduct enforcement stops for violations of the law based upon probable cause. The CHP does not make arrests based on race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or for any reason other than violations of the law based on probable cause. As always, CHP officers will have the discretion to take appropriate action when a violation is observed.”
For counties in Purple Tier like Contra Costa, non-essential businesses and personal gatherings are prohibited between 10 PM and 5 AM
Unless you’re eating dinner with the governor at a fancy restaurant. Just kidding! – The Herald
SACRAMENTO – In light of an unprecedented, rapid rise in COVID-19 cases across California, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced a limited Stay at Home Order requiring generally that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 PM and 5 AM in counties in the purple tier. The order will take effect at 10 PM Saturday, November 21 and remain in effect until 5 AM December 21. This is the same as the March Stay at Home Order, but applied only between 10 PM and 5 AM and only in purple tier counties that are seeing the highest rates of positive cases and hospitalizations.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
This limited Stay at Home Order is designed to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. Activities conducted during 10 PM to 5 AM are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance.
“We know from our stay at home order this spring, which flattened the curve in California, that reducing the movement and mixing of individuals dramatically decreases COVID-19 spread, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “We may need to take more stringent actions if we are unable to flatten the curve quickly. Taking these hard, temporary actions now could help prevent future shutdowns.”
“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s acting Public Health Officer. “It is especially important that we band together to protect those most vulnerable around us as well as essential workers who are continuing their critical work amidst this next wave of widespread community transmission across the state. Together we prevented a public health crisis in the spring and together we can do it again.”
COVID-19 case rates increased by approximately 50 percent in California during the first week of November. As a result, Governor Newsom and California’s public health officials have announced a list of measures to protect Californians and the state’s health care system, which could experience an unprecedented surge if cases continue their steep climb.
On Monday, the state pulled an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy putting more than 94 percent of California’s population in the most restrictive tier. The state will reassess data continuously and move more counties back into a more restrictive tier, if necessary. California is also strengthening its face covering guidance to require individuals to wear a mask whenever outside their home, with limited exceptions.
Late last week, the state issued a travel advisory, along with Oregon and Washington, urging people entering the state or returning home from travel outside the state to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisory urges against non-essential out-of-state travel, asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourages residents to stay local.
Contra Costa County is among 19 Localities to Join a Network Deploying Economic Research and Multi-sector Welcoming Plans for Promoting Inclusion and Economic Opportunity for All
By Tish Gallegos, Community/Media Relations Director, Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD)
Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) and Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) are pleased to announce that New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming America selected Contra Costa County to receive a Gateways for Growth (G4G) Technical Assistance award as part of the fourth cohort of a nationwide initiative. G4G is a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities. Contra Costa County and this year’s awardees join 71 other recipients since the 2016 launch of the initiative.
In light of the scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gateways for Growth Challenge this year prioritized localities that demonstrated a public-private commitment to better integrating immigrants into recovery efforts and emergency management systems.
“The Gateways for Growth Award is a timely boost to Contra Costa County’s efforts of welcoming and immigrant inclusion, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to enhance our work,” said Candace Andersen, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
The immigrant community in Contra Costa is wide and diverse, representing 25 percent of the county’s population. The partners involved in the Gateways for Growth effort will include both new arrivals and longtime residents, and a number of previously unengaged groups. In addition to seeking out language minority and immigrant communities, the County will bring in more small community-based and faith-based organizations to support this work.
As the country looks to rebuild and set a more inclusive path forward nationally, Contra Costa County, as part of the G4G 2020 cohort, will lay the groundwork and build the infrastructure for economic, civic, and social inclusion at the local level.
“We recognize the inequities that persist and are exacerbated by the COVID pandemic in our systems, and we are committed to advancing further inclusion and fairness in everything we do,” explained Erika Jenssen, Contra Costa Health Services Department. “As a result, plans to establish a County Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice are underway.” Technical assistance and research provided through the award will support the planning process for the new office.
“Respecting diversity by honoring individual differences is a core value for EHSD that echoes that of Contra Costa as a welcoming county,” said EHSD Director Kathy Gallagher. “Our County has strongly opposed federal rule changes that limited the scope of benefits under the public charge rule and affected immigrants on their path to citizenship. We remain committed to the continuation of the DACA program, and to supporting ongoing inclusion and long-term economic and social integration of newcomers to our community.”
“We are thrilled to see the Gateways for Growth Challenge expand to another set of localities that reflect the diversity of our nation,” said Christina Pope, Senior Network Director at Welcoming America. “With each cohort, there is an opportunity to support and connect local leaders making their communities more welcoming and resilient places where everyone, including immigrants, can prosper and belong.”
As in previous years, G4G awardees will receive a combination of:
- Customized quantitative research reports from NAE on the demographic and economic contributions immigrants make in their communities; and/or
- Tailored technical assistancefrom NAE and Welcoming America to help communities draft, execute, and communicate a multi-sector immigrant inclusion strategy.
In addition to Contra Costa County, this year’s awardees are:
- Dayton, Ohio
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Columbus, Ohio
- Erie, Pennsylvania
- Gainesville, Florida
- Lancaster County, Nebraska
- Los Angeles, California
- Mercer County, New Jersey
- Miami-Dade County, Florida
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Ottawa County, Michigan
- Passaic County, New Jersey
- Reno/Washoe County, Nevada
- Saint Paul, Minnesota
- San Mateo County, California
- Southwest Kansas
- Spokane, Washington
- Washtenaw County,Michigan
Year-round, NAE and Welcoming America maintain an interactive map at gatewaysforgrowth.org that serves as a clearinghouse for the successes of all current and prior G4G awardees.
Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services (EHSD)
Employment & Human Services partners with the community to deliver quality services to ensure access to resources that support, protect, and empower individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency. Based on the core values of delivering an exceptional customer experience, encouraging open communication, embracing change, practicing ethical behavior, and embracing diversity, EHSD envisions Contra Costa County will continue to be a thriving community where all individuals and families can be healthy, safe, secure and self-sufficient. More information about EHSD is available at www.ehsd.org.
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS)
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is an integrated system of healthcare services, community health improvement and environmental protection. We are the largest department of county government, including a 166-bed full-service public hospital with eight satellite health centers, public health, behavioral health and homeless services, environmental health, a federally-qualified HMO serving more than 190,000 people and a hazardous materials response unit. We are also the county’s emergency medical response agency.
CCHS provides high-quality services with respect and responsiveness for all. Our mission is to care for and improve the health of all people in Contra Costa County, with special attention to those who are most vulnerable to health problems. Learn more at cchealth.org.
New American Economy
New American Economy (NAE) is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization founded to educate, empower and support policymakers, influencers, and citizens across the country that see the economic and social benefits of a smart approach to immigration reform. NAE has created a coalition of civic, business, and cultural leaders who span the political spectrum and represent all 50 states. NAE makes the case for smart immigration reform in four ways:
- We generate and usepowerful research to demonstrate how immigration impacts our economy;
- We organize champions at the grassroots and influencer levels to build support for immigration;
- We partner with state and local leaders to advocate for policies that recognize the value immigrants add locally; and
- We show immigrant contributions to American culture through film, food, art, sports, comedy, and more.
Visit NewAmericanEconomy.org to learn more.
Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities from across the world in becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. Through a membership network of 200+ local governments and nonprofits, Welcoming America connects and supports place-based initiatives that work to reduce divisions and support greater civic, social, and economic participation among new and longtime residents alike. Through the Welcoming Network, participating members access peer learning opportunities, technical assistance, tools, and training to help transform their communities into more welcoming places. Visit WelcomingAmerica.org to learn more.
By Jimmy Lee, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff-Coroner
Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston announces that a Coroner’s Jury reached a finding in the December 1, 2019 death of 60-year-old Donald James Eversen of Concord. The finding of the jury is that the death is an accident.
The Coroner’s Jury yesterday reached a 10-0 verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses called by the hearing officer, Matthew Guichard.
Eversen was shot and killed by Concord Police while he was attacking his elderly parents with a knife. (See Concord Police Department video of incident. Warning: contains disturbing images.)
A Coroner’s Inquest, which Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston convenes in fatal incidents involving peace officers, is a public hearing during which a jury rules on the manner of a person’s death. Jury members can choose from the following four options when making their finding: accident, suicide, natural causes, or at the hands of another person, other than by accident.
Herald Addition: Asked why the jury chose “an accident” instead of “at the hands of another person, other than by accident” and if they offered any details for their decisions, Lee responded, “That was the jury’s decision. No details were provided.”
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
By Jimmy Lee, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office continue to investigate an in-custody death at the Martinez Detention Facility per the officer-involved fatal incident protocol.
On Monday, November 16, 2020, at 5:07 PM, inmate Ezekiel McCoy sustained injuries during a fight with other inmates at the West County Detention Facility. He was transported by ambulance to the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) in Martinez at 6:30 PM.
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at about 12:15 AM, McCoy arrived at the Martinez Detention Facility after being treated and cleared by medical staff at CCRMC.
McCoy was placed in a negative air flow room at MDF pending the result of a COVID-19 test. He was checked on throughout the day and last checked at 4:23 PM. About nine minutes later, deputies found McCoy unresponsive. Deputies and medical staff provided life-saving measures. The fire department was at MDF on an unrelated incident, and they responded immediately. McCoy was later pronounced deceased at the scene.
30-year-old McCoy of El Sobrante was originally arrested by the Pinole Police Depart-ment and booked into MDF on July 28, 2020. McCoy was being held on numerous charges that include attempted murder, child endangerment, burglary, having a concealed weapon in his car, domestic violence, making criminal threats, and probation violation. McCoy was being held in lieu of $1,480,000 bail.
Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Investigation Divi-sion at (925) 313-2600 or through Sheriff’s Office dispatch at (925) 646-2441. For any tips, email: email@example.com or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
Reporters who have inquiries on McCoy’s medical treatment should contact the Contra Costa Health Services Public Information Officer at (925) 608-5463 or at DOC.PIO@cchealth.org.Read More
Clash over $80,000 marketing outreach budget
By Daniel Borsuk
In response to the state moving Contra Costa County back into the most restrictive COVID-19 Purple Tier, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday acted to deliver financial assistance in the struggling tenant, landlord and small business sectors.
Earlier Supervisors had learned that Contra Costa’s new daily COVID-19 case rate had risen to 11.4 per 100,000 with a 3.7 percent positivity rate. As of Tuesday, 41 counties, including Contra Costa, were in the Purple tier.
Supervisors approved an amendment to the County’s Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant Action Plan to spend an additional $4.29 million in CDBG-Coronavirus or CV3 funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 to provide emergency rental assistance and tenant/landlord counseling and related legal services.
Supervisors allotted $3.2 million from a Federal CARES Grant for an emergency rental assistance program to Hayward-based ECHO Housing that would provide tenant-landlord counseling and related legal services to persons meeting eligible income requirements for the program.
Concord-based Shelter, Inc. will work with ECHO in providing rental assistance services in Antioch, Pittsburg, Concord, and Walnut Creek.
At one point, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood clashed over the program’s $80,000 marketing/outreach budget that Glover supported, but Burgis preferred to cut by 50 percent. “I like to do outreach,” said Burgis, “but there is so much need and urgency out there right now.”
Despite the disagreement over the outreach money, supervisors kept intact the $80,000 for outreach.
One of the conditions to the federal program is that the county needs to spend the CARES funds by Jan. 31, 2021.
“Obviously, families are struggling to make ends meet, and some of my students have found themselves having to take some economic responsibility to make families’ ends meet,” said Luis Chacon, a West Contra Costa Unified School District teacher.
In other action, supervisors voted 5-0 to pass an urgency ordinance to continue the temporary prohibition on evictions of certain small business commercial tenants financially impacted by COVID-19. The protection continues through Jan. 31.
“The county must act quickly to assist residents, both tenants and landlords, who are or will be in the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board Chair Candace Andersen of Danville. “Providing direct rental payments to landlords on behalf of tenants is critical, and staff will work with community organizations to reach out to those in need, particularly low-income households and neighborhoods severely impacted by economic and housing instability at this difficult time.”
Contra Costa County’s Urgency Ordinance 2020-29 provides protections pursuant to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-80-20, which extends, through March 31, 2021, the authority of local jurisdictions to suspend the evictions of commercial tenants for the non-payment of rent if the non-payment was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Board of Supervisors recognizes that the already struggling business environment has become even more challenging with the recent rise of COVID-19 cases,” said Board Chair Andersen. “As we follow public health orders and guidance intended to protect lives, we have to support businesses however we can.”
Supervisors voted 5-0 to impose a 45-day moratorium ordinance on industrial hemp cultivation so that the county Agriculture Commission can establish cultivation and location regulations on the crop harvested in East county.
East County resident John Cisneros, who lives nearby a hemp operation with armed guards, urged supervisors to adopt an ordinance. “How would you like to live near a hep farm with a security force, that might turn into a cannabis operation? Not a safe thing,” he said. “I am not against hemp, but this is not a suitable place.”
Pittsburg Motel 6 Homeless Program Action
In a consent action, supervisors approved a lease with Azad Rahman, Riffat Rahman an Zahin Rahman, who had managed the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road, Pittsburg that the county has agreed to buy through the state’s Homekey Program to provide housing for the homeless and social services.
The county agreed to purchase the motel for $17.4 million even though there is a question whether the county properly appraised the property that may have been over appraised by $5 million. (See related article) The county approved a lease with the Rahmans at $600 a month.
With new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging across California, the state today restored safety measures in Contra Costa and many other counties that are needed to protect the public and save lives during the pandemic.
The return to the purple tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy comes with some additional requirements for businesses and community activities not imposed in Contra Costa since summer. But the change also reflects an approaching danger that health experts see in recent COVID-19 data, in the U.S., California and Contra Costa County.
The adjusted average daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa has doubled in recent weeks, rising from 4.3 per 100,000 population on Oct. 16 to 9.2 on Nov. 16.
The average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in Contra Costa has also increased sharply, from 1.9% on Oct. 16 to 3.6% on Nov. 16.
Health officials are also closely monitoring the number of people hospitalized in Contra Costa because of COVID-19, as a large surge in patients could overwhelm the local healthcare system. There were 21 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Contra Costa on Oct. 16, compared to 48 on Nov. 16.
To prevent unnecessary illness and death in our community, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) urges residents to take the safety requirements seriously and consider what they can do to reduce the risk of infection to themselves and their families – such as wearing face coverings whenever they leave home.
Growing evidence shows that simple cloth face coverings reduce the spread of COVID-19, providing some protection to the wearer and, more importantly, protecting people near a wearer who is infectious but does not yet know they are sick.
“The most simple, effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering whenever you leave home or are around people who do not live with you,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, county health officer. “This may also be a time to consider a remote holiday gathering. We all want to see each other, but it is important to carefully consider the risks before meeting in person with our loved ones.”
Contra Costa, previously in the red tier, already enacted local health orders last week that added additional safety requirements beyond what the state had mandated, including a moratorium on indoor dining and operation of indoor gyms and fitness centers.
Contra Costa moved into the red tier just last week from the orange tier. The state today changed its guidelines to expedite movement of counties into more restrictive tiers in response to the growing public health crisis. More information is expected to be posted at the state’s web page.
Changes caused by the state’s action today will include:
- Social gatherings involving people from different households are permitted outdoors only, with a maximum of three households and 25 people, preferably for less than two hours.
- K-12 schools may not reopen for in-person instruction unless they have already begun to do so.
- Worship services and cultural ceremonies must now be held outdoors only.
- Higher education institutions must move indoor lectures and student gatherings outdoors only.
- Movie theaters may operate outdoors only.
- Museums and exhibit spaces may open outdoors only.
Visit covid19.ca.gov for more information about the state health guidelines, and state data regarding COVID-19.
For Contra Costa data and COVID-19 health information, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.
Wednesday, November 11
And you ask for a ‘Break?’, C’mon. Your speed of 131MPH combined with the fact you have NO LICENSE just earned you a car jail impound for 30 days. Sign here for you citation.
#instantkarma #nobreaks #slowdown #chp
And a close second today is this violator, at 121 MPH on you guessed it, #hwy4. But fortunately, this driver receives similar treatment as the last.
In all seriousness, these types of speeds are truly dangerous to all motorists on the road. We are out enforcing all laws on all roads, especially Hwy-4, to take these dangerous drivers off the roadway. Whether you see us out and about or not, we are always out there working, 24/7, no days off. #slowdown #1stistheworst #2ndisjustasbad
Friday, November 13
BACK AT IT AGAIN
110MPH… and then car unregistered for 2 years?!Read More
In coordination with other Bay Ara counties
If the current restrictions don’t work “we are prepared for further restrictions” – Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa Health Officer during Friday afternoon press conference
On Thursday, California reached the unfortunate milestone of 1 million COVID cases statewide. With transmission and hospitalizations on the rise, health officers representing counties across the Bay Area are tightening local rules for high-risk indoor activities where the virus can spread more easily.
Contra Costa Health Services today issued an order to close, effective Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8 a.m.:
- Indoor dining
- Indoor fitness centers
- Concession stands at movie theaters
Dine-in restaurant and gyms reopened at reduced capacities when the county entered the state’s red tier in late September. But recent increases in COVID cases and hospitalizations make the closures necessary to help contain spread of the virus.
“Indoor interactions at restaurants, movie theaters, and indoor gyms and fitness centers are high-risk activities,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “And given what we’re seeing happen across the country and the region, we must act now.”
Diners at restaurants remove their masks to eat or drink, as do movie patrons when snacking on food from concession stands. People also breathe heavily while they exercise at indoor gyms, increasing the risk of droplet and aerosol transmission of COVID-19, which can be only partially reduced by wearing a face covering.
Contra Costa recently moved from the state’s orange tier to the more restrictive red tier because of an increasing number of cases in the county. Meanwhile, hospitalizations in Contra Costa have returned to levels not seen in several weeks. On Nov. 11, 50 people with COVID were hospitalized in the county – the highest number since September.
“I’ve said this many times before, but it’s so important I can’t repeat it enough: The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to wear a face covering whenever you are near people who do not live with you, and whenever you go in a building that is not your home,” said Dr. Farnitano.
Health officials are especially worried about people gathering indoors with the holidays coming up and may consider other closures in the days and weeks ahead. Contra Costa County, which is now in the red tier, could move into the state’s most restrictive tier, the purple tier, within the coming weeks. If the county moves into the purple tier, schools that haven’t reopened will have to remain closed until the county moves back into the red tier or until they receive a waiver from the state.
“Our hope is that this new health order will slow down the spread of COVID so schools will have a better chance to reopen,” Dr. Farnitano said.
Dr. Farnitano Press Conference
During a Zoom press conference Friday afternoon Farnitano was asked by the Herald, “Is this decision based on what’s actually happening in our county, or what’s happening in other Bay Area counties and elsewhere?” he responded, “We’re really looking at all of it.”
Where people are getting COVID, “many if not most cannot pinpoint any specific locations,” Farnitano explained. “But where we can identify, restaurants, gyms we are imposing restrictions.”
“Why can’t we just protect the vulnerable and allow the rest of us get back to living our lives?” the Herald asked.
“That would be an ideal strategy if it can work. But it can’t. The vulnerable can’t live in a bubble,” Farnitano stated. “We see it in our nursing homes. Those who work there go home, go shopping, and are with their families where they can be exposed.”
“To protect the most vulnerable in our society we need to keep the overall transmission to a minimum,” he added.
“What is the basis for closing indoor fitness centers and not other indoor activities,” he was asked.
“We have seen looking across the country and across the state there have been outbreaks in gyms and fitness centers,” Farnitano said during a press conference Friday afternoon. “People can exercise outside or at home. Outdoor fitness operations are still allowed. This current order doesn’t have an endpoint. When our hospital case rates come down…then we can reconsider these orders.
“Masks does not provide the same level of protection when youre around someone breathing heavily and exercising,” he added.
The actions are “due to the rapidly rising of rates in our community,” Farnitano explained.
One person asked about the county “moving the goal posts instead of enforcing existing rules”.
“The enforcement efforts have not proven sufficient,” Farnitano responded. “The more we can wear our masks and stay away from others outside of our households the sooner we can get past this upsurge.”
“Our case rate in the past seven days are already in the Purple Tier. We are testing at higher levels than state averages. Our adjusted case rate is even in the Purple Tier,” he said. “We have seen the case rate increase in the last several days in our hospitals.”
The county is issuing these orders, now so, “We can hope to blunt that wave, blunt that surge…to get us through a winter surge quicker and with less harm to the community as far as illness and death,” Farnitano explained.
“Are church services impacted further,” he was asked.
“Not at this point,” Farnitano responded. “We implemented restrictions on churches last week for the Red Tier. We are prepared to add additional restrictions in the future if our hospitalizations rise, in advance of state restrictions.”
“We are looking at all of our health care systems and how we can get through the latest wave,” he explained.
“Will it be enough? I am not sure. We will have to watch the data and see,” said Farnitano. “We all have to do our part, wear our masks, six feet of social distancing.
“But if it doesn’t we are prepared for further restrictions,” Farnitano added. “The state could move us into Purple the day after Thanksgiving.”
“Why don’t you believe in herd immunity,” he was asked.
“Herd immunity would take an enormous toll on the community and lead to enormous deaths, more than we’ve seen,” Farnitano responded. “We would need 70 to 80% levels of herd immunity. It would take uncontrollable disease for months and months and months and that would be too high of a toll for the community.”
Allen Payton contributed to this report.