Alameda County holds COVID-19 ‘Beyond the Blueprint’ community webinar

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Katie Lee/File
The Alameda County Health Care Services Agency hosted a community update where health experts spoke on California’s recent reopening and lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Kimi Watkins-Tartt, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department; Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County health officer and Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley public health officer were the three panelists.

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The Alameda County Health Care Services Agency hosted a COVID-19 community update webinar Tuesday where health experts spoke on the details and impact of California’s recent reopening, which lifted many COVID-19 restrictions across the state.

The event featured three panelists from the county agency and the Berkeley Public Health Division: Kimi Watkins-Tartt, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County health officer and Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley public health officer. The event was moderated by Tuere Anderson, director of systems integration for the county’s health agency.

Both Alameda County and the city of Berkeley are aligned with the state’s move to lift most COVID-19 restrictions, including capacity and physical distancing limitations, June 15, according to Hernandez.

“Everyday life will feel like it did before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hernandez said at the event. “But while we know the economy has fully opened, the pandemic is still with us. We will still have cases of COVID-19.”

For those fully vaccinated, there will be no face-covering requirement indoors or outdoors. Masks will be required indoors, but not outdoors for those not fully vaccinated. However, masks will still be required in schools, healthcare facilities, correctional and detention facilities, homeless and emergency shelters and on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status.

For those traveling, Hernadez advised referring to travel recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

While the county has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, some workplaces and businesses may still enforce certain guidelines, according to Hernandez. Businesses may ask customers to wear masks inside or ask for proof of vaccination.

Additionally, businesses and employers must still abide by state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, guidelines, which are set to be revised June 28, according to Watkins-Tartt.

The webinar then transitioned to a Q&A portion, where the experts were joined by Lisa Erickson, the school health services administrator within the county’s Center for Healthy Schools and Communities. According to Erickson, schools and youth settings will still require masks indoors but not outdoors.

She added that the CDC still recommends masks in crowded outdoor events or high-contact outdoor sports.

Following the winter surge in COVID-19 cases, the situation has gotten “much better,” with 64.6% of the county’s population above 12 years old fully vaccinated, according to Moss. Moss added that the Alameda County Public Health Department is working hard to create opportunities for people to get vaccinated, especially in harder-hit communities.

“Now that (these restrictions) won’t be present as much as they have been over the past 15 months, it’s on us,” Watkins-Tartt said at the event. “It’s now on us about how we want to live, how healthily we want to live. And I believe that we can do this together.”

Contact Mimia Ousilas at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @mimiaousilas.