City Taking Steps to Prevent Spread
Schools, entertainment venues closed; events canceled
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Alameda stated in a series of press releases last week, that it will be taking extra precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and the community. The frequency and level of cleaning at facilities, including at all fire stations will be increased. In addition, many large city-sponsored events have been canceled or postponed. People older than 60 and people with underlying health conditions are at a much higher risk of severe illness.
Staff has also deployed 17 hand sanitizer stations at key locations across Alameda and are actively promoting recommended actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 to employees and residents.
The county recommends those at high risk stay home and away from crowded social gatherings as much as possible. According to the Alameda County Public Health Department, more than 80 percent of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 have mild symptoms. To help ensure those with health risks have access to the treatment they need, the general public should take action now to prevent an overwhelmed health care system.
City staff took proactive steps including: hanging posters and having hand sanitizer available in all city facilities, creating a webpage and fact sheet with up-to-date information at www.alamedaca.gov/alerts and following recommendations by the Alameda County Public Health Department regarding canceling mass events. Staff is currently working with the county to make sure sanitization is a top priority in areas where people who are unhoused reside.
“We understand this news may be alarming to our community, as well as our employees and their families,” stated a city press release. “The best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our community, especially those who are more vulnerable, is follow recommended precautions.”
- Wash hands with soap and water frequently
- Cover a cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay away from work, school or other people when sick
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Follow guidance from public health officials
- Call a health-care provider before seeking medical care
Alameda Municipal Power (AMP), the municipally owned electric utility, has suspended service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately. This suspension applies to residential and commercial customers and will remain in effect until further notice.
City officials are receiving the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 outbreak through conference calls with federal, state and local officials. Last week the city learned that 11 testing labs in California are working now with more coming online in the days to come. More testing is being done at commercial labs. Those with symptoms who would like to be tested must consult with a health-care provider first.
Following federal, state and local guidelines on social distancing, the city will make changes to the delivery of services through Sunday, March 29. The duration of these changes might be expanded as staff receives new guidance. Generally, non-essential city services will be reduced as much as possible to help protect the health and safety of employees and the community.
In preparation for COVID-19, all Alameda Fire Department (AFD) personnel received advanced training and were provided with additional levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gowns, face masks and eye protection.
AFD’s emergency dispatch center began implementing a new set of questions on Feb. 27 for patients who have flu-like symptoms. The questions are designed to provide a higher level of safety for the public and to alert responding firefighters of potential exposures so they can wear the appropriate PPE and ensure the safety of the patient.
Alameda Police Department (APD) officers and staff will direct residents with non-emergency police reports to file an online report rather than have an officer respond in person. This will impact all reports with no known suspect or suspect leads, reports intended for documentation purposes only and reports of crimes such as identity theft, late reported thefts, harassing telephone calls and lost, stolen or vandalized property. If the caller does not have access to online services, a telephone report will be taken. Similarly, “advice only” calls for service by police personnel will be handled by telephone only.
APD will continue responding to all 911 emergency calls, other emergency calls, crimes in progress, mental health evaluations and incidents where there is a known suspect. Traffic enforcement and homeless liaison outreach efforts will also continue. All scheduled Livescan fingerprint appointments will be postponed, and no new Livescan appointments will be scheduled until further notice.
Gov. Newsom issued an executive order declaring that local legislative bodies are authorized to hold public meetings via teleconferencing and to make public meetings accessible telephonically or otherwise electronically to all members of the public seeking to attend and to address the local legislative body. The city currently broadcasts all meetings and will continue to do so at www.alamedaca.gov/agendas. Options to facilitate public comment will be announced in a future update.
All public open space in Alameda remains open, including parks, park restrooms and playgrounds. Youth recreation programs are cancelled through Friday, April 3. Most other recreation programs are canceled through Sunday, March 29. Mastick Senior Center’s lunch and brown bag and computer labs will remain open, as well as the Alameda Loop Shuttle. Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) offices are closed for in-person services through March 29, but available by phone at 510-747-7529 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. ARPD will issue full refunds to anyone who wishes to cancel any reservation in the next 30 days.
The three library branches in Alameda will remain open with reduced hours. The Main Library will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The West End Branch will be open on Mondays from 4 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m., and closed on Fridays and Sundays. The Bay Farm Branch will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and closed on Fridays and Sundays. When libraries are open, the public must follow all recommendations for social distancing and if sick, stay home. All library programs are canceled for two weeks, through March 29.
Drop-in services have been suspended for two weeks through March 29, at the Planning and Building Permit Center. Permit Center services will continue to be available by phone, email, online, and by appointment. Refer Permit Center questions to 510-747-6830.
The two Public Works Department counters at City Hall West and Fortmann Way are now closed. To request service, call 510-747-7900 or use the SeeClickFix app on any cell phone or post a request online at www.alamedaca.gov/seeclickfix.
Passports will not be processed at City Hall through Sunday, March 29.
Schools also Closed
At an emergency meeting held March 13, the Board of Education voted unanimously to suspend in-class instruction in Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) schools through Friday, April 3. This window of time may be expanded depending on developments or guidance from public health officials.
“We are aware that there is some disagreement among health officials as to the efficacy of closing schools to contain this virus at this time,” stated AUSD in a press release. “We are deeply aware, as well, that some of our families are going to have a hard time arranging care. However, due to the high levels of anxiety we are witnessing in our community and the sheer amount of uncertainty on what we can expect with this public health situation, we feel the best action is to suspend in-class instruction.”
AUSD offered a packet of materials that children can use to continue learning during the school closure. Plans were in place to develop additional online materials for local students. All schools will be providing food service for all youth under the age of 18 during the closure. Students do not need to be enrolled in AUSD schools to receive meals, and they do not need to present ID. Breakfast will be served from 9 to 10 a.m. and lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
Through Friday, March 27, meals will be available at: Ruby Bridges Elementary School, Encinal High School, Wood Middle School, Alameda Point Collaborative and the Academy of Alameda Monday through Friday.
Alameda Food Bank
The Alameda Food Bank has committed to remaining open during the COVID-19 crisis. The food bank previously instituted the health, safety and sanitation protocols recommended by public health experts and are now taking some additional steps.
As of now, the food bank has moved all operations to its warehouse located at 650 West Ranger Ave. on Alameda Point. This allows for much more social distancing due to the size of the warehouse and parking lot. This also allows for drive-through distribution where clients pull up in their cars and volunteers deliver a prepackaged bag to the car.
The food bank is also investigating text ordering, extended hours and other methods of reducing the waiting in line.
Following the continually evolving recommendations for community events from the Alameda County Department of Public Health, the following events have been postponed or cancelled:
- March 19: Alameda Fire Department Recruit Graduation
- March 21: Spring into Biking, Pop-Up Bike Fair
- March 24: Alameda Sings! Concert
- March 25: Bayport Playground Design Planning Neighborhood Meeting
- April 4: Alameda’s Splash Into Spring Egg Scramble
- April 9: Mastick Senior Center Volunteer Luncheon
- April 18: Earth Day Festival
Per the Alameda County Public Health Department, all events at City facilities with more than 250 people expected in attendance are being cancelled or postponed. People at higher risk from severe illness should stay home and away from crowded social gatherings as much as possible.
While Alameda Recreation and Park Department (ARPD) is currently honoring rental reservations for large events, they are offering a full refund for voluntary cancellations of private facility rentals with more than 100 people through Sunday, April 12. Contact ARPD at least 48 hours in advance to avoid cancellation fees at ARPD@alamedaca.gov or 747-7529.
The City of Alameda received several requests from residents looking to help out during this crisis. The city recommended a few ways to take action locally:
- Support local businesses by shopping online, or buy a gift card now to use later.
- Volunteer to help the Alameda Food Bank. The Food Bank is putting a drive-through distribution system in place, where clients pull up in their cars and volunteers deliver a pre-packaged bag of food. They will need additional help in the weeks to come. Email contact information and availability to email@example.com. The Alameda Food Bank is currently limiting food donations to reduce person-to-person contact and are instead encouraging donations by check and cash. Donate online at www.alamedafoodbank.org.
- Participate in Building Futures’ Donation Drive, which provides emergency shelter, services and housing to individuals and families in Alameda transitioning out of homelessness and domestic violence. The organization is seeking donations of hard-to-find items, including facemasks, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, tissues, latex gloves, canned food, instant soup, instant oatmeal, granola bars and protein bars. Drop off or mail items to Building Futures during regular business hours at 1395 Bancroft Ave. in San Leandro.
Keep up to date
The city posts regular updates at www.alamedaca.gov/alerts. Residents may subscribe to this online page and receive alerts when new information is posted. A page with updates for businesses will also be updated regularly. Residents may also subscribe to AC Alert at www.acalert.org, which is how the city will communicate with the public by phone, text and email during emergencies.