City of Berkeley officials address COVID-19 concerns at town hall

photo of Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Lianne Frick /File
Mayor Jesse Arreguín was one of many officials discussing COVID-19 concerns at the city of Berkeley's town hall Monday.

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As the city of Berkeley anticipates its full reopening July 19, city officials addressed community concerns regarding COVID-19 and more during a town hall Monday.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley and Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez highlighted the city’s vaccination rate, the increase in cases and hospitalization rates, one case of the delta variant in Berkeley and a plan to open Horizon Transitional Village on July 1.

“When looking at the county case rate and their hospitalization, we’re seeing a little bit of an increase, ” Hernandez said. “We’re hoping that this has to do with the fact that we just reopened two weeks ago.”

She noted that the spike of cases and hospitalization rates included individuals who are not yet vaccinated.

For Alameda County, she confirmed 86,494 total COVID-19 cases and 3,671 for Berkeley. Approximately 68% of Alameda County residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, while 81% have received at least one dose; 67% of Berkeley residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, and 79% have received at least one dose.

Hernandez then addressed concerns relating to the COVID-19 delta variant, which a Berkeley resident contracted several weeks ago. She explained that the individual no longer poses a threat to other residents.

For the city’s vaccination efforts, residents can be vaccinated in three large settings — Berkeley Adult School, community clinics and Casa Zimbabwe, she added.

Hernandez urged individuals who have not been vaccinated to receive the vaccine.

Public transit, hospitals, long-term care facilities, shelters, K-12 schools and child care services in Berkeley still require a few COVID-19 restrictions, she explained. Attending an indoor event of 5,000 individuals or more in the city requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Williams-Ridley announced plans to fully reopen city facilities July 19, with hours of operation between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. No celebration will occur for July 4, she noted.

To address the encampments for homeless people across the city, Williams-Ridley explained her staff’s efforts to inform individuals about property restrictions on the sidewalks.

Her staff continues to reinstate park rules, such as no tents in the park, she added

On July 1, the city plans to open Horizon Transitional Village, a 24-hour homeless shelter on Grayson Street, which can house about 40 to 50 unhoused individuals, Williams-Ridley said.

“This is the last town hall meeting, but let us also remember that our work is not done and we must continue to be vigilant, to follow signs and to protect our health and the health of our neighbors and our friends and the Berkeley community,” Arreguín said.

Contact Tanya Decendario at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @tdecendario.