LIVE: Updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley

Zichen Zhao/File

Here’s what we know:

  • Here are campus resources for students.
  • The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak, colloquially known as the coronavirus, a pandemic.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay at home” order starting March 20 evening. The Bay Area, including the city of Berkeley, issued a “shelter in place” order through May 3. The statewide order currently has no end.
  • The city of Berkeley announced its first case of COVID-19 on March 3. As of press time, there are 10 confirmed cases in the city.
  • UC Berkeley campus officials announced that instruction has transitioned to virtual classes for the remainder of the semester and that in-person instruction may resume at some point during the semester, depending on guidance from public health officials.
  • Berkeley City College has also canceled in-person classes. Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, has canceled in-person classes through May 1.
  • All Cal Athletics and Pac-12 competitions have been canceled. Rec Sports has also closed all operations.
  • Berkeley Summer Abroad 2020 programs have been suspended, as well as most Berkeley Global Internship programs.
  • Newsom declared a state of emergency and announced health guidelines. 

Update April 8, 12:03 a.m.

Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Brent Stephens sent a districtwide email Tuesday night with an update on the school district’s COVID-19 response.

After the Alameda County Office of Education’s announcement that classes would be online for the rest of the academic year, Stephens said in his email that no official action has been taken in school district yet, but he plans on advising the BUSD board to follow this action and cancel in-person classes for the rest of the school year. He said, however, that he hopes the board will revisit this decision in the event of a change in public health guidance.

Stephens also said in the email that the district has temporarily banned the use of Zoom and Google Meet for instruction, after several incidents of “Zoom bombings” at teachers’ office hours. Two of the incidents involved students and one allegedly involved “illegal activity” from an adult, who disrupted a Berkeley High School instructional session. According to the email, the Berkeley Police Department is looking into this incident, and in the meantime, teachers have been instructed to use Google Classroom and recorded lectures without a live interactive capability.


Update April 7, 7:45 p.m.

The city of Berkeley announced Tuesday they will be opening a COVID-19 testing site for community members, including those lacking health care, firefighters, nurses, police officers and essential city employees.

The new site is a partnership with LifeLong Medical,  an urgent care center in Berkeley, as well as UC Berkeley and was intended to improve data on COVID-19 in the city, tracing those who have been exposed through contact and prevent further spread of the virus, according to an email from the city of Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez.

She added, however, that not all people who may have been infected or who are experiencing symptoms need to be tested. According to Hernandez, those with no symptoms or mild symptoms should just stay home unless their symptoms worsen.

Hernandez requested in the email that those with health care providers also not go to the site to allow the city to focus its resources on those with more pressing needs.

According to the email, this new site will work in conjunction with a site at UC Berkeley, which also started this week, to build data about the disease and give officials a better picture of its spread. Hernandez also said, in addition to increasing data, a crucial part of fighting the virus is members of the public staying at home with the exception of essential activities, with the ultimate goal preventing a surge of patients in hospitals.


Update April 7, 3:47 p.m.

On Tuesday, the Alameda County Office of Education announced in a press release the extension of school campus closures for the remainder of the academic 2019-2020 year.

This decision aligns with five other Bay Area counties and with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Wednesday that all California schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic school year.

According to the press release, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco county superintendents consulted with public health officers in their counties in making this decision. The press release added that schools will continue to transition to at-home instruction and “distance learning formats.”

Schools will continue to use campus facilities to distribute school meals and provide child care or supervision in accordance with the local community’s needs.


Update April 6, 4:11 p.m.

BART announced Monday that it will be limiting its services to every 30 minutes Mondays through Fridays, beginning April 8.

This decision comes after BART reported considerable losses in revenue and low ridership rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s and the Bay Area’s stay-at-home orders. The end date of this change is not yet determined, but the reduction in the number of trains will allow for BART employees to take time off when needed and save BART $3-7 million per month, according to a BART press release.

Weekend services will remain unchanged.


Update April 6, 12:30 p.m.

The move to online classes and general reliance on the Zoom teleconference platform for many classes has brought issues to campus regarding copyright and class climate, according to a campuswide email sent Monday.

Instructors own copyright in their course materials, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly in the email, making the distribution or display by any other person a violation of copyright law. According to the email, screenshots of individual lectures and course materials have been circulating and are being taken out of context.

Alivisatos and O’Reilly also said “Zoom bombing incidents” have begun to take place at UC Berkeley, during which people join Zoom lectures to display racist, pornographic or violent messages as a disruption. Alivisatos and O’Reilly requested that everyone updates Zoom to the latest version, as well as that instructors and GSIs report incidents to campus administration.


Update April 5, 10:28 p.m.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued a second emergency order to the Alameda County Superior Court, excusing prospective jurors and extending the court’s public closure period.

Under the order, the public closure period has been extended, and April 6 to May 1 will be largely considered holidays. Additionally, pleas and appearances involving civil action and misdemeanor appeals will be held electronically.

Those who receive summons for jury service with dates between April 6 and May 1 will not be required to report, and they will not be summoned for at least one year.


Update April 3, 6:49 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Friday outlawing price gouging by more than 10% on food, consumer goods, emergency resources and medical supplies, as well as other products.

The order also empowers the California Department of Justice and attorney general to prosecute price gougers.


Update April 3, 5:45 p.m.

Campus officials announced Friday that summer classes would be completely online in response to the COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, pandemic.

All summer 2020 classes will be offered through Zoom, bCourses and other virtual methods. Classes that cannot be offered remotely will be canceled by April 10, but more classes may be added in the future, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland, Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly and Dean of Summer Sessions Richard Russo, who sent the email.

According to the email, campus administration has made the decision to waive cancellation penalties for summer classes until May 25, the beginning of summer sessions. The move online will not affect students’ ability to qualify for financial aid, as long as they are enrolled in six units or more.

The email did not discuss grading policies for the summer session.

Online classes have historically been offered during the summer in addition to in-person classes, making the transition not completely different from previous terms. According to the email, more than 30 classes were already being offered fully online before the decision was made by campus administration.


Update April 3, 1:15 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched “Project Roomkey,” which aims to provide hotel and motel rooms as protection from COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, to the state’s unhoused population, at a Friday press conference.

With this project, California becomes the first state in the nation to obtain approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide people experiencing homelessness safe isolation from COVID-19, according to a press release. Project Roomkey aims to secure up to 15,000 rooms “as quickly as possible” and has currently moved 869 individuals “most vulnerable” to COVID-19 into isolation.

The project’s isolation units will provide three critical public health services by prioritizing individuals classified as high-risk and asymptomatic and providing isolation capacity for those exposed to COVID-19 that don’t require hospitalization and for those that have tested positive for COVID-19.

Newsom also announced that state and local governments will receive up to 75% cost-reimbursement for the rooms and wraparound support services from FEMA, with essential behavioral health and health care services also being provided for local governments and community partners where needed.

According to the press release, the state will also allocate dedicated support teams to counties to help identify hotels, negotiate and execute operating agreements and provide technical assistance in record-keeping needed to receive federal reimbursement. As of press time, local governments have secured 6,867 hotel and motel rooms for Project Roomkey.

Hotels in counties with significant homeless populations that are also currently experiencing a high concentration of COVID-19 transmission will be targeted by Project Roomkey, according to the press release. Local governments are also responsible for identifying which shelter clients or encampment residents are selected for room placements as well as transporting them to hotels.

Every room included in Project Roomkey will include essential wraparound services such as custodial, laundry, security and support staff services, according to the press release. In partnership with chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, select hotels housing individuals in the program will receive three meals per day through a statewide contract.


Update April 3, 11:43 p.m.

The Alameda County Superior Court has extended its public closure period to May 1 in response to the extension of the shelter-in-place order to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.

In a Thursday press release, the court also requested a number of relief forms including the extension of the California Superior Court emergency order enacted by the chair of the Judicial Council on March 17 as well as the authority to continue considering the public closure period a “holiday.”

With authority granted by California Gov. Gavin Newsom through an executive order, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued a statewide order that authorized all Superior Courts to issue implementation orders that would extend the time for holding preliminary examinations and criminal arraignments and further continue civil and criminal jury trials.

As a result, the court has extended the time for in-custody arraignments and preliminary examinations and is continuing criminal trial dates by 60 days. The court has also adopted a temporary Emergency Bail Schedule and is further ordering the stay of all unlawful detainer proceedings, including evictions, until May 3, among others.


Update April 2, 6:26 p.m.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, PG&E customers will receive California Climate Credit on their bills for their April billing cycle.

According to a PG&E press release, the credit for customers receiving natural gas as well as electric services will amount to $62.91. Those who only receive natural gas will receive a credit of $27.18, while those with electric-only services will receive $35.73. Under the shelter-in-place orders, people may be using more energy than usual, leading to increased energy bills, making the credit especially “timely,” according to the press release.

California is requiring business that emit greenhouse gases — including power plants, natural gas providers and other industries — to purchase carbon pollution permits. These permit is attained from auctions managed by the California Air Resources Board, according to the press release. The California Climate Credit is the customers’ share of payments from the statewide program, which is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission.

To help manage costs associated with increased energy usage, PG&E is offering several rate plan options as well as assistance programs.

Additionally, PG&E has instituted a moratorium on service disconnections for nonpayment that can be applied toward residential and small business customers, according to the release. They will remain in effect until further notice.

PG&E is also planning to suspend Medical Baseline Program removals, allowing customers in the Medical Baseline Program to not recertify with a doctor or medical professional for up to one year.


Update April 2, 6:23 p.m.

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher sent a campuswide email Thursday with an update on campus closures and policies after the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order was extended to May 3 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the email, all campus buildings will be locked indefinitely Friday at 5 p.m., including to those with key card access. Those who need access to buildings will need to seek approval from their supervisors, as well as the Fisher. In emergencies, people can reach out to UCPD for access, according to Fisher, who said he strongly discourages community members from coming to campus at all, even before the Friday deadline.

All outdoor campus facilities, including tennis courts, basketball courts, play structures and fields are also closed indefinitely, effective immediately, according to Fisher.

For employees, including student workers, supervisors must complete and submit a temporary work at home agreement with each employee working virtually. Employees who relocated out-of-state or internationally should reach out to their supervisors and will continue to receive a California payroll until the shelter-in-place order is lifted. When the order is lifted, however, wages may have to adjust for tax purposes, according to the email. The Berkeley International Office remains a resource for those working from international locations, Fisher added.

The UC Office of the President announced Thursday that no UC workers would be laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Update April 2, 3:09 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Thursday, placing a moratorium on water shut-offs for nonpayment to residential homes and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release, more than 100 public and private California water systems had already voluntarily suspended shut-offs for their services. The order expands this to the rest of the state and restores water for residences that have had their water shut off since March 4, when Newsom first declared a state of emergency.


Update April 2, 2:31 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday three new measures for Californians financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the several resources unveiled today was a federal fund of “first-come, first-serve” loans of up to $10 million for small employers impacted by COVID-19. This fund opens applications Friday, according to a press release.

Newsom also announced a $50 million state fund for loan guarantees to small businesses that may not qualify for federal funds, including those in low-income and undocumented immigrant communities. This comes after Newsom issued a 90-day extension for small businesses to pay sales taxes.

For the newly unemployed, Newsom partnered with Bitwise Industries and the Kapor Center to create OnwardCA, which connects people in need of jobs to more than 70,000 jobs in the most critical industries today.

Newsom has also allocated $17.8 million to supporting California workers, with $7.8 million for the Los Angeles region and the other $10 million for the rest of the state.


Update April 2, 12:06 p.m.

Chancellor Carol Christ said in an email to graduating students Thursday that commencement, which was officially postponed March 23, will take place during the summer.

Campus administration circulated a survey to those graduating, to which they received more than 3,000 responses. According to the email, the majority of students said they prefer a summer commencement date.

Christ said in the email that campus administration has begun searching for new dates and locations for the ceremony but will not officially set a date until the timeline of the pandemic becomes more clear.


Update March 31, 1:18 p.m.

In an email Tuesday, the city of Berkeley said the shelter-in-place order would be extended to May 3 in order to preserve the “critical” hospital capacity across the region.

The order includes additional prohibited activities and businesses and goes into effect Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Shared recreational facilities, playgrounds, dog parks and picnic areas are to be closed, and sports requiring shared equipment, such as a ball, are limited to people in the same household.

Construction, both residential and commercial, has been halted, and funeral attendance is now capped at 10 people. The order also requires businesses to develop social distancing protocols by April 3.


Update March 30, 2:10 p.m.

In a press release Monday, the city of Berkeley announced the extension of the shelter-in-place order.

The shelter-in-place order began March 17 and was intended to remain in place for at least three weeks, or until April 7, but will now be extended to at least May 1. More details about the order will be announced after the updated order is finalized by Wednesday.


Update March 30, 12:37 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked all recently retired health care workers, as well as students in medical schools, to join the workforce to meet the surge of COVID-19 cases at a press conference Monday.

According to Newsom, there are about 37,000 prospective recently retired health care workers and eligible medical students whom the government has identified as viable to work. He added that California will need thousands more workers to “meet the moment” and combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Medical students at the brink of graduation will be prioritized.

Newsom said the state will help those who are willing to return to work or start working with licensing. He added that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have pledged $25 million to support Californian health care workers with accommodations, child care and transportation while they work to treat those with COVID-19.

Newsom added that the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to identify and prepare new spaces for “surge sites” and to increase state capacity to treat those with COVID-19 by 15,000 beds. According to Newsom, the Oakland Coliseum is one of these prospective sites.

In California, 1,432 people are hospitalized for COVID-19, up from 746 cases four days ago. Newsom added that the number of Californians in the ICU from COVID-19 is 597, an increase from 200 cases four days earlier. According to Newsom, the state will release data on the number of county cases.


Update March 30, 12:18 p.m.

UC Berkeley is now providing access to free e-books to support students in remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a campuswide email sent Monday, this service provides access to course materials that may no longer be accessible. Beginning March 30 to May 25, the Cal Student Store will be providing free access to an “expansive” catalog to all students through VitalSource. To access the portal, students will need their UC Berkeley email.

The email also reminds students of technology resources provided, including the Student Technology Fund, which is offering students emergency loans of Wi-Fi hot spots and laptops while supplies last. The Student Learning Center on campus also remains fully open via Zoom to support students with their coursework.


Update March 27, 5:46 p.m.

The city of Berkeley ordered local cannabis dispensaries to stop in-store services and instead utilize a delivery-only model, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

According to a Berkeleyside article, the city’s economic development manager Jordan Klein sent an email Wednesday about the order and said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the city’s health officer, made the decision. The article added that some dispensaries have appealed to Mayor Jesse Arreguín to intervene, as only one cannabis business in Berkeley has a delivery service.

Stefan Elgstrand, Arreguín’s spokesperson, said in an email that Arreguín spoke with City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley and requested the reconsideration of the decision and to allow for curbside pickups.

According to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko, as of Friday, Hernandez has made the decision to allow dispensaries to do curbside services in addition to deliveries if social distancing measures are utilized to limit exposure to COVID-19.


Update March 27, 1:02 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Friday officially mandating a statewide moratorium on evictions through May 31.

This order follows an order from March 16 that authorized local governments to halt evictions but did not mandate any statewide action. In Friday’s order, Newsom prohibited landlords, law enforcement and courts from evicting tenants for nonpayment or legal order. Tenants must, however, declare in writing that they cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19 no more than a week after the original payment deadline.

Tenants must also retain documentation of their financial hardship due to COVID-19 but do not have to submit it to their landlords. According to the order, tenants who take advantage of this moratorium on evictions are still obligated to pay their full rent “in a timely manner” and could face eviction after May 31.

The moratorium is to go into effect immediately.


Update March 26, 1:28 p.m.

The city of Berkeley provided updates on construction and development during the shelter-in-place order. While city offices, including the Permit Service Center, are closed, limited construction is allowed to continue and building permits and related services are available remotely.

The Berkeley Planning and Development Department is working to maintain essential projects and regular business. Construction projects, building inspections and other work the city schedules, if considered essential, will take place under appropriate social distancing measures with suitable personal protective equipment.

The city is currently not accepting new land use applications and approved projects that are subject to appeal will have their appeal periods extended until the city is able to conduct public hearings.


Update March 25, 7:05 p.m.

The Alameda County Superior Court ordered the release of low-risk offenders arrested for failing to appear in court from Santa Rita Jail on Wednesday in response to COVID-19.

Wednesday’s order comes after two previous orders days earlier, one of which released 247 people while the other released eight people deemed “vulnerable” due to age or health condition. Released individuals were instructed to appear in court in eight weeks and check in with their service providers in the interim.

The court has also resumed its self-help services available by phone call, according to a court press release, but continues to provide limited activities. Jury trials have been suspended until May 22, according to an order released Monday from Judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chief justice of California.


Update March 25, 5:42 p.m.

Campus confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the number of students who have tested positive up to seven.

Six of the seven students who have tested positive have returned from a study abroad program in Spain through the UC Education Abroad Program, including the two newest confirmed cases from Wednesday, according to campus’s COVID-19 update page. Two other undergraduate students from a Spanish study abroad program — one in Barcelona and one in Madrid — also returned home and tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, campus’s fourth and fifth cases.

According to the update page, one of the infected students lives in the city of Berkeley and is being treated by University Health Services. They are self-isolating and in “good condition” and the individual was not on campus while symptomatic, according to the update page.

Another student is self-isolating outside of Alameda County.


Update March 25, 2:15 p.m.

BUSD confirmed Wednesday that its school closures will be extended to May 1 to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The decision was a regional move made by Bay Area public health officers, including those from the city of Berkeley and Alameda County, in coordination with county superintendents, and it applies to public schools across the region.

According to BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens, BUSD has begun developing a long-term Distance Learning Program instead of short-term home-learning resources. He added that more information will be given at BUSD’s virtual board meeting Wednesday night.


Update March 25, 1:18 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a press conference Wednesday that four national banks have agreed to a 90-day residential mortgage payment waiver period for those impacted by COVID-19.

U.S. Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Citibank and Wells Fargo are the four banks that have agreed to the 90-day grace period. According to Newsom, Bank of America agreed to a 30-day period, but Newsom said he is hopeful that it will adjust this policy to meet the other four major banks. Many state and local banks, including East West Bank, have also set forth policies of residential mortgage payment forbearance and a moratorium on foreclosures.

According to Newsom, more than 1 million Californians have applied for unemployment benefits since March 13. He added that he recognizes that many Californians are struggling financially and said he is working with national, state and local leaders to mitigate some of the economic effects.

The state of California will continue to work with these financial institutions on policies for overdraft fees and ATM charges, according to Newsom, as well as measures that will help small businesses and nonprofits in the coming days.


Update March 24, 5:55 p.m.

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced the closure of play structures, athletic courts, dog parks and fields to help enforce social distancing.

Nine parks are entirely closed, including Grizzly Peak Park and Ohlone Dog Park, according to the email announcement. Both King Pool and West Campus Pool have been closed, along with seven recreation centers. Berkeley Skate Park, the Gabe Catalfo Fields and the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex have also been shut down.


Update March 23, 3:37 p.m.

The city of Berkeley has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Alameda County has 122 cases, according to city of Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko.


Update March 23, 2:26 p.m.

The 2020 UC Berkeley all-campus commencement, which was originally scheduled for May 16, has been postponed.

The commencement will take place at an undetermined time and location, according to an email from Chancellor Carol Christ sent to the class of 2020. The email asks that students fill out a survey, in which they can opt for commencement to take place either during the summer or virtually on the original date.

The email also mentions the possibility of the class of 2020 being able to participate in the December 2020 or May 2021 ceremonies.


Update March 23, 10:10 a.m.

AC Transit will no longer be requiring fares for its bus rides until further notice, according to an email from Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison.

Passengers will also be instructed to board through the rear doors on buses in order to promote social distancing.


Update March 22, 6:54 p.m.

The city of Berkeley released an email confirming the suspension of certain parking enforcement measures, including those regarding parking meters, parking with time limits, school zones and residential permit parking through April 7.

According to the email, parking violations involving red and yellow curbs, fire hydrants, disabled parking-designated spots, street sweeping and double parking will still be enforced. Parking in construction zones and driveways will be enforced by complaint only.


Update March 22, 2:29 p.m.

As of 5:30 p.m. Friday, the campus learned of two additional confirmed COVID-19, or coronavirus, cases involving UC Berkeley community members, according to a Berkeley News press release.

The two cases are undergraduate students who both tested positive after returning home from studying abroad in Spain. The press release added that the students are currently in home-isolation outside of Alameda County and that there was no exposure to the campus.


Update March 20, 7:40 p.m.

Beginning March 23, all Cal Dining locations with seating will be closed for dine-in services and will only offer to-go options. Signage at each location will include the menu and what allergens are present in the food.


Update March 20, 1:37 p.m.

All of UC Berkeley’s Spring 2020 undergraduate courses will be defaulted to the Pass/No Pass grading system, according to a campuswide email sent Friday.

If a student wishes to take a class for a letter grade, they will be able to change their grading option until May 6. Instructors will also continue submitting letter grade records.

Certain regulations have also been temporarily suspended, allowing the campus to temporarily modify student requirements toward a degree or minor, if students chose to take Pass/No Pass classes. There will be a notation on transcripts regarding Spring 2020 grades to denote the semester’s extenuating circumstances.

Campus advisories regarding travel, health and general safety were also released in a campuswide email Friday morning.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has suspended federal student loan payments and waived interest, for a period of 60 days. She also announced that states can apply for standardized test waivers for the 2019-20 academic year.


Update March 19, 4:10 p.m.

The UC Education Abroad Program, or UCEAP, announced that it has suspended all summer 2020 programs. In an email sent to UCEAP summer 2020 program students, upcoming fall and year programs are scheduled to run as planned.


Update March 18, 9:51 p.m.

Campus administration announced changes to how the campus receives and processes tuition payments in response to Alameda County’s “shelter in place” order.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued an executive order Wednesday that would suspend standardized testing for more than 6 million students this year in K-12 schools, pending federal approval, after schools across the state closed.


Update March 18, 7:14 p.m.

The U.S. Census has suspended all operations until April 1 and postponed many other targeted attempts at counting.

The count for people experiencing homelessness has been postponed until April 29-May 1 and the field count is expected to begin April 30. Census employees are still being paid during this suspension and most enumerators will not be sent out until May.

The public is being encouraged to fill out the census by filling out the online form, calling in to fill out the census and mailing in their census forms.


Update March 18, 10:25 a.m.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order waiving eligibility redetermination for 90 days on many safety net programs: MediCal, CalFresh, CalWORKs, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants and In-Home Supportive Services. According to a press release from Newsom’s office, current recipients of these programs will continue receiving them without interruption.


Update March 17, 3:20 p.m.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton sent an email to all campus students Tuesday afternoon, outlining how many student services would operate online — many will be operating out of online portals or through phone. The email also encouraged students to look after their own well-being, physically and mentally, and sourced many campus health resources.


Update March 17, 1:45 p.m.

The UC Board of Regents will be holding its March meetings virtually.

The meetings — originally scheduled from March 17 to March 19 – will now be available to viewers through a livestream. Additionally, public comment will be held over the phone and can also be submitted via email.

The UC Botanical Garden has closed temporarily as well, beginning March 17.


Update March 16, 7:50 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Monday evening that authorizes local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures and protect against utility shut-offs in response to COVID-19

Unless extended, the protections allowed under the order are in effect until May 31. The order comes as Californians are experiencing COVID-19-related loss of hours, loss of wages and layoffs that affect their ability to pay rent, mortgages and utility bills.

The order also asks that banks and other financial institutions halt foreclosures and related evictions while the order is in place.

The order, however, does not relieve a tenant from their obligation to pay rent, nor does it restrict a landlord’s ability to recover rent.


Update March 16, 7:39 p.m.

UC President Janet Napolitano issued an executive order Monday mandating expanded paid family leave for UC workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order makes all employees eligible to receive up to 128 hours of paid administrative leave one time before Dec. 31. It comes with several conditions, including that the extra paid leave be used in response to a COVID-19-related illness of the employee or their family member, that an employee is under a “shelter in place” order and is unable to come to work or that the employee must be home with a child or dependent in response to school or day care closures and remote work is unfeasible.

The order also applies to those who have been directed not to come to work in-person but cannot work at home. According to the order, those who work part time will have the 128-hour measure prorated to fit their assignment.


Update March 16, 7:31 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Monday to redirect state agencies to protect licensed facilities, staff and residents vulnerable to COVID-19.

The order contains updated health guidance for older residents, which includes individuals over the age of 65 and those at a higher risk for illness from COVID-19. State health and social services agencies are being asked to redirect resources and staff to health care, residential and nonresidential facilities. The redirection is focused on providing technical assistance and supporting compliance with “core health and safety requirements.”

The California Health and Human Services Agency is also being directed to develop alternatives to leverage in-home supportive services programs, adult protective services programs, area agencies on aging and regional centers and other programs.

The order adds that state departments will authorize first responders, care providers and workers who are asymptomatic and taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to continue working.

Newsom is recommending that older residents and individuals with compromised immune systems or serious chronic medical conditions remain at home until the order is rescinded or another guidance is issued.

Outdoor activities are also encouraged to continue as long as individuals practice social distancing. It is also advised that individuals stay in touch with others by phone or email, have others help with essential activities, stock up on food items and medical supplies, have a plan in the case of possibly contracting the virus and to practice basic hygiene etiquette.


Update March 16, 2:49 p.m.

Public health officers from six Bay Area counties, including Alameda County, announced at 1 p.m. Monday that the region would go in a “shelter in place” beginning 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez was also at the press conference, joining representatives from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco. The order will remain in place “for at least three weeks,” according to Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, or until April 7.

During the press conference, Cody said there have been 273 cases of COVID-19 as of 5 p.m. Sunday night across the jurisdictions represented at the conference.

The order also restricts travel to only “essential travel,” but public transportation, private cars and airplanes will still be used, according to Cody.

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, according to multiple members of the press conference, and restaurants are being encouraged to continue delivery services. First responders and emergency services, such as fire departments, will also continue operation.

Individuals are also still able to walk around publicly so long as individuals continue to socially distance themselves.

After the press conference ended, Chancellor Carol Christ sent a campuswide email canceling all remaining in-person classes and most campus operations.

More information for employees will be released by the UC Office of the President later today, according to the email.

Campus services that cannot be provided remotely will continue, including custodial services, housing, dining, UCPD and University Health Services, according to Christ.

Berkeley Rec Sports has also closed all operations through March 29.


Update March 15, 7 p.m.

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced Sunday evening that she is temporarily closing all city recreation programs, recreation centers, pools and clubhouses.

These closures will be starting March 16, and city parks will remain open, according to Williams-Ridley’s press release, which also says that the city will refund payments for any canceled programs or facility rentals.

Upcoming city-wide recreation division special events in the month of April will also be canceled, these events include the Shoreline Cleanup, Flashlight Egg Hunt, Spring Egg Hunt, Berkeley Bay Festival and the 2020 Census Event.

The press release further encouraged the recommendation of limiting gatherings to 250 people or less and ten people or less for those more susceptible COVID-19, such as people over the ages of 60 or those with chronic conditions.

City officials are looking into how the city can temporarily use these closed facilities to support nurses, paramedics, police officers and outreach workers.

Update March 15, 3 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered for the self or home isolation of people ages 65 and older, along with the closure of bars statewide as the number of diagnosed COVID-19, or coronavirus, cases rise.

The order of closure of all bars across the state also includes wine bars, breweries and pubs. Newsom added that there are currently no plans to close restaurants but called for restaurants to reduce their occupancy by half and to practice “deep social distancing.”

The state is also prohibiting visitors to nursing homes, in addition to the self or home isolation of state residents ages 65 and older. The state is also working to launch a plan to provide the homeless population indoor resources, such as spaces in trailers and motels.

The state is also launching an online portal within the next couple of days. The portal will allow the public to input their symptoms and other COVID-19 related information to determine the likelihood of their contraction of the virus before contacting health professionals.


Update March 14, 9:13 p.m.

Public health officials have determined that no one is at a significantly higher risk of contracting COVID-19 from the campus graduate student diagnosed with the disease than the general public, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.


Update March 14, 6:05 p.m.

Starting Monday, Berkeley Public Library will be closed to the public for an indefinite period to help stall the spread of COVID-19.


Update March 14, 5:50 p.m.

A campus graduate student in the sociology department has tested positive for COVID-19 — the first reported on-campus case of the disease.

UCPD sent a Nixle alert saying the student lives off-campus. The alert also said campus officials are working to determine who has been in contact with the patient and will direct them to self-isolate.

Vice Chancellor of Administration Marc Fisher and Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Health Services Guy Nicolette also sent a campuswide email, stating that the individual does not live in Berkeley and has self-isolated in their city of residence. According to the email, the individual with COVID-19 is in “good condition” and is not exhibiting any “serious symptoms.”

“We understand that this news is unsettling, but we want to assure you that your health and safety remain our number one priority,” Fisher and Nicolette said in the email. “We are also coordinating to make sure that the student is getting the care needed.”

According to various faculty from the sociology department, the student’s case is mild and they have contacted county public health officials. Members of the department encouraged those feeling sick to seek a doctor’s consultation and those who have been in department offices to self-isolate.


Update March 14, 9:56 a.m.

PG&E placed a moratorium on all shutdowns for nonpayment for both its residential and commercial customers effective immediately.

The company said in a press release that it will also offer the “most flexible” pay plans to customers who indicate they were impacted or endured hardship as a result of COVID-19. PG&E has also instituted new rules, such as requiring its employees providing in-person, direct customer support to wear disposable gloves and avoid handshakes. The company is also asking employees to work from home if possible.


Update March 14, 9:38 a.m.

The city of Berkeley has canceled nearly all city-sponsored events and has announced the closure of all senior homes beginning on March 16, according to a press release sent by Berkeley public health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez.

These cancellations include committee and commission meetings, which will not meet for 60 days except for critical items that the commissions have to see. The full list: Design Review Committee, Fair Campaign Practices Commission, Joint Subcommittee for the Implementation of State Housing Laws, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Open Government Commission, Personnel Board, Planning Commission, Police Review Commission and Zoning Adjustments Board.

City Council meetings will continue virtually, with links and spaces for public accessibility.

While closed, senior centers will still provide pickup lunches, with no dine-in option.

Regarding testing for COVID-19, due to the nationwide shortage of tests, Hernandez recommended that anyone with mild cold or flu symptoms treat their illnesses at home, as entering a hospital could expose them to new illnesses. Individuals should go to a hospital when symptoms worsen.

On March 12, Berkeley Free Clinic announced it would close for three weeks or longer, because “as a clinic staffed by lay volunteers, we lack the gear, training, and knowledge to respond to CoVID-19.”


Update March 13, 2:56 p.m.

The campus Division of Student Affairs released an email Friday outlining guidelines for students living in undergraduate housing.

Students who choose to stay will have a “safe and healthy living environment,” according to the email. Financial aid for housing will continue as planned for students who stay in campus housing and it will be not be affected by students’ decisions to leave or remain on campus.

Those living in undergraduate campus housing will be able to stay until May 17, when their contracts end. The email stated, however, that some residence halls may be closed and students remaining may be consolidated into fewer locations. According to the email, the campus is waiting for data on how many students will need campus housing before making further decisions.

Campus itself will remain open.


Update March 13, 12:36 p.m.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul Alivsatos announced in a campuswide email Friday morning that campus has transitioned to virtual classes for the remainder of the semester.

Despite the current call for virtual classes, the email states that campus may resume in-person instruction at some point during the semester, depending on guidance from public health officials. If in-person classes resume, however, the email also said attendance will not be mandatory for the rest of the semester, so students who have decided to continue remotely will not be penalized.

The email also states that campus officials will support students’ decisions to relocate out of campus housing. One or more residence halls may be closed during this time, and students who choose to remain on campus may be relocated into fewer locations. Other changes may also be made to improve social distancing between students.

Students who decide to move out of campus housing will receive relief from payment obligations from housing contracts if they choose to move out of campus housing or Blackwell Hall, according to the email. Housing that is not owned by the campus, such as student cooperatives, Bowles Hall and fraternities or sororities, have their own housing policies.

Supervisors of student workers were encouraged to find virtual alternatives for student employees who need employee wages to cover basic needs costs but would prefer to leave the campus area. If remote work is not possible, then the UC systemwide policy is for students to receive two weeks of paid administrative leave — according to the email, this would cover many weeks of pay due to the regular hours of student workers.


Update March 12, 9:44 p.m.

Berkeley Unified School District announced Thursday that it would be closing all preschools, elementary schools, middle schools and the Berkeley Adult School effective starting Monday.

High schools will be closed starting Friday, according to the message written by BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens. According to the message, the high school classes will be closed earlier than the other schools in order to allow for high school teachers to explore at-home learning options. The district office will also be closed during these days.

Stephens said in the message that BUSD hopes to reopen April 6, after its spring break ends.

Berkeley High School Athletics also announced in a Tweet that it would be shutting down through spring break.


Update March 12, 8:56 p.m.

The Alameda County Public Health Department, or ACPHD, announced today that four new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the county, two of which are believed to be community-transmitted. ACPHD also promoted the California Department of Public Health’s new guidelines to stall the disease’s spread.


Update March 12, 5 p.m.

Campus libraries have announced shortened opening hours beginning Friday, according to a campus press release. The Institute of Governmental Studies Library and the Ethnic Studies Library, which are affiliated libraries, have closed.

The UC Education Abroad Program, or UCEAP, suspended European study abroad programs Thursday, after the U.S. Center for Disease Control and state department raised a travel advisory for Europe in response to the COVID-19, more colloquially known as coronavirus, pandemic.

Going into effect on Monday, March 16, the suspension comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban of entry for travelers from Europe to the United States for 30 days. Students abroad are encouraged to return to the United States, according to an email sent to participants about the suspension.

According to the email, this ban will not affect American students and U.S. permanent residents coming home.

Regarding circulating rumors about the cancellation of in-person classes after March 29, campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that there has been no decision as of yet.


Update March 12, 1:19 p.m.

All Pac-12 competitions, including the current men’s basketball tournament, have been canceled, along with all remaining Cal Athletics competitions. The nonprofit student group Berkeley Project has also canceled its largest service event, Berkeley Project Day, as well as all other in-person campus events.

Beginning Wednesday, 24 students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism have self-quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19. The students were instructed to self-quarantine after an attendee of the 2020 National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference was tested “presumptively” positive for COVID-19 and returned home, according to an email to students from Graduate School of Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman.


Update March 11, 11:58 p.m.

The California Department of Public Health has released more guidelines to help slow COVID-19 transmission, including the postponement or cancellation of all events with more than 250 expected attendees.

Among these guidelines were also suggestions to cancel smaller gatherings where there is not enough space for six feet of social distance between all attendees and to cancel gatherings of more than 10 higher-risk individuals.


Update March 11, 3:54 p.m.

The UC Berkeley Interfraternity Council, or IFC, announced in a statement Wednesday that all IFC events are suspended in response to concerns about COVID-19, the new coronavirus, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

According to IFC Vice President of Risk Management Kelly Schulte, IFC events including social, philanthropy and fundraising, among others, have been suspended through March 29. Schulte added that IFC will continue to monitor the situation to determine whether to adjust the length of the suspension.


Update March 11, 3:17 p.m.

UC Berkeley announced that “intercollegiate athletic events on campus will feature no spectators,” in a statement released Wednesday by Vice Chancellor of Administration Marc Fisher.

This change comes just days after Cal Athletics confirmed that it was not placed under the same restrictions that moved almost all in-person classes online. Cal Athletics has released a statement outlining that only “essential personnel” will be allowed to attend home events beginning Wednesday.

“To help protect at-risk populations and lessen the spread of the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, attendance at Cal Athletics home events will be limited to essential personnel only, beginning Wednesday,” Cal Athletics said in the press release.

Essential personnel include students athletes, coaches, sports medicine staff, game officials, credentialed media and operational and administrative staff.

Fans who have purchased tickets to spectatorless sporting events have the option of exchanging their tickets, requesting a refund or donating tickets to nonprofit organizations of the ticket holder’s choice.


Update March 11, 1 p.m.

UC Davis sent a press release Tuesday strongly suggesting faculty use virtual means to teach classes and canceling in-person events with more than 150 individuals in attendance, barring performing arts and UC Davis athletic events. The press release also called off in-person finals.

The final undergraduate UC campus, UC Merced, also called for faculty to consider using virtual tools for instruction.

Berkeley City College also canceled its face-to-face classes, as did College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College, on Tuesday over concerns about the health risks of COVID-19.

According to a press release from the Peralta Colleges’ health services page, classes are canceled from March 11 to March 14 in order to allow faculty to attend trainings and explore options to transition to online instruction. The colleges and their district office will remain open during this time.


Update March 11, 11:40 a.m.

The Berkeley Forum canceled its event with Venmo co-founder Andrew Kortina on Sunday over concerns about health risks and campus closures with COVID-19.

The event, which was scheduled for Wednesday, will be postponed until later this semester or put in next semester’s lineup, according to a Facebook post from the student organization. Berkeley Forum also canceled a speaker event Feb. 24 over health concerns.


Update March 10, 11 p.m.

The Berkeley community was notified in a press release Tuesday by the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, that large BUSD events are canceled through the end of March but that schools will remain open.

This decision was in response to the city of Berkeley receiving new guidance from Berkeley health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez, which aligns with guidance issued by the Alameda County Public Health Department.

According to the guidance, the city recommends postponing or canceling nonessential mass gatherings and large community events. All BUSD schools will remain open, as recommended by the city of Berkeley.

BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens added in the press release that out of caution, he has asked that school assemblies, performances and evening gatherings at schools, such as PTA gatherings and open houses, scheduled to take place in March be canceled.

Field trips and a majority of athletic events will proceed, but some large sports events may have to be canceled if they fall into the public health guidance.

There is a possibility of school closure if a student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposes others at the school, according to the BUSD press release.


Update March 10, 7:51 p.m.

UC Santa Cruz has suspended on-campus classes beginning Wednesday through April 3, according to a press release UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive published Tuesday.

Lecture and discussion classes will be held online, but classes that must meet in person, such as lab courses, will continue in person if necessary. Winter quarter final exams will be conducted virtually, as will be the first week of the spring quarter.

All campus-sponsored events with more than 50 planned attendees are postponed, according to the press release, which also suggested exploring alternative meeting methods for gatherings with fewer than 50 attendees.


Update March 10, 6:45 p.m.

UC Riverside will be holding its spring quarter online through April 3, according to a campuswide email sent by UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox and Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Thomas Smith.

Instructors were also advised to prepare for the possibility of classes being held online after April 3 as well, though the continuation of online classes will be confirmed at a later date.


Update March 10, 5:38 p.m.

UC Irvine has canceled in-person classes, calling upon instructors to “exercise flexibility and to adjust their course practices and policies” in a press release from UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman published Tuesday.

Winter quarter final exams will be administered online and UC Irvine’s spring quarter will begin remotely, according to the press release. Students living in on-campus housing are also being called to return to their off-campus residences and to stay off campus for the spring quarter. Students who remain on campus will receive instruction remotely, according to the press release, which also says on-campus dining halls will remain open.


Update March 10, 4:33 p.m.

UCLA has canceled in-person classes “wherever possible” and said instructors should plan to use online platforms through April 10, according to a press release from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block published Tuesday afternoon.

Winter quarter final exams at UCLA will be held virtually, according to the press release, which also encourages students to begin the spring quarter remotely. UCLA housing will remain open through the campus’s spring break, as will other facets of campus including clinics, hospitals and laboratories, but the campus is calling for nonessential in-person events with more than 100 people in attendance to be canceled.

UC Santa Barbara has also canceled in-person classes until the end of April, which includes the rest of the campus’s winter quarter and the beginning the campus’s spring quarter, according to a campuswide email sent Tuesday afternoon by UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang and first reported by the Daily Nexus.


Update March 10, 1:06 p.m.

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Simmons released guidelines on how the campus will respond to fears regarding COVID-19 spread Monday night, including calling for professors to not require attendance for the remainder of UCSD’s winter quarter.

The guidelines, disseminated through a UCSD campuswide email, stated that all lectures and discussions will be virtual, and the email suggested using Zoom to hold meetings. Classes with in-person requirements, such as studio courses, will continue to meet in person for the time being.


Update March 9, 8:44 p.m.

The city of Berkeley provided potential COVID-19, the new coronavirus, outbreak recommendations for businesses.

Individuals who own or run a business are advised to adopt policies and practices that support current public health recommendations. The press release added that businesses should plan ahead to take stricter measures when risk levels increase and to follow the business preparedness recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

“If you own or run a business, now is the time to get ready for the impact of increased coronavirus spread within the Bay Area,” the press release reads.

The city is specifically recommending to remind employees to stay at home if they are sick, emphasize the importance of healthy behaviors within the business, perform routine cleaning, prepare to support “social distancing” and to utilize workplace healthy behaviors materials created by the CDC and the city.

It is recommended to verbally remind employees, use all-staff memos and signage in common areas to ensure all employees are aware that they should not be coming to work when ill, according to the press release.

Workplace policies that are noted are to send sick employees home immediately, adopt non-punitive sick leave policies so employees don’t have incentives to come to work sick and to not require a doctor’s note when employees stay home, as health care providers may not be able to provide documentation in a timely manner due to the increased spread of COVID-19.

The press release also added that businesses should regularly clean your facility, including common areas and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, and workstations with standard cleaning agents. Businesses who think there has been potential exposure at their facilities should follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection.


Update March 9, 5:43 p.m.

Wednesday’s ASUC Senate meeting will continue in person, but a link has been sent for senators and persons who would like to join the meeting virtually, according to a public notice email sent by ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous.


Update March 9, 4:50 p.m.

Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz sent a campuswide email Monday outlining measures the research community should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and plan for significant changes in staffing.

Katz asked in the email that all campus labs and research facilities require unwell personnel to stay home, standardize personal hygiene measures and allow “social distancing,” like spacing researchers out and separating shifts. He also discouraged traveling and attendance of conferences, recommending that researchers cancel or postpone research field trips.

Campus will continue to prioritize the safety and good health of researchers and research animals, according to Katz, who said in the email that researchers and lab facilities should be prepared to decontaminate work spaces if a researcher becomes ill. He also recommended that researchers should prepare for the potential for restricted building or laboratory access.

“Individual labs and research facilities are best positioned to create a continuity plan that will meet their unique needs,” Katz said in the email.


Update March 9, 1:39 p.m.

Chancellor Carol Christ sent a campuswide email Tuesday around 1:25 p.m. announcing the suspension of most in-person classes to students.

She added that all campus sponsored events with plans for more than 150 attendees will be canceled or postponed, though this does not include events scheduled by Cal Performances or Intercollegiate Athletics. She said campus administration discourage in-person gatherings with less than 150 attendees.

“In our assessment of the current situation, including the likelihood that the Berkeley campus could have a coronavirus case at any time, we believe that this is the best action for our campus community and the broader Berkeley community,” Christ said in the email.

According to Christ, a decision on how to proceed will be made at a later time, based on how the information regarding the disease progresses.


Update March 9

Nearly all in-person classes have been canceled beginning Tuesday until March 29, according to a facultywide email sent about noon Monday.

The email, sent by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly, was sent to all campus instructors and called for instructors to organize online class processes. If instructors do not have online class processes organized by Tuesday, then the email said instructors have until Thursday to establish online classes and resume as usual.

“As local, national, and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, we are proactively taking steps that will help to protect the community,” the email said.

Attendance policies campuswide have been suspended, according to the email, and students cannot be penalized for nonattendance. Students who are concerned with their attendance policies or who are being told to attend in-person classes should contact their department chair or school dean.

The email also emphasized that campus will not be closing during this period. Classrooms will be accessible by instructors and instructors may meet with each other on campus. Campus operations will also remain normal, but there may be limited operations because employers across campus will be encouraging employees to work from home, when possible.

“Many courses on this campus have been refined with thought and care over decades,” the email reads. “We appreciate that revising these courses to make them amendable to online delivery in a short period of time will be taxing and we ask members of the instructional community to help each other by sharing resources and expertise.”