Masks Now Required in Public in California

Masks required! On June 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to wear face coverings in public — in indoor settings and outside when it isn’t possible to maintain six feet of social distance. Multiple scientific studies worldwide have confirmed that wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19. This virus is spread by droplets you breathe out when you cough or sneeze, and even while talking. And you can have and spread COVID-19 without experiencing any symptoms. Your mask protects others and provides some protection for you, too. Wearing a mask is one of the most effective things we can do to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We have to do better. Alameda County saw a 23% increase in new cases last week, while some Bay Area counties saw lower increases or even declines. More businesses and activities will be allowed to reopen when we slow our case rate. Local business owners and their employees have suffered significant financial loss during the shelter-in-place closures. You will help them by following the Governor’s order to wear a mask.

Businesses in Alameda County are gradually being allowed to reopen. An updated Shelter-in-Place order issued June 18 allows retail venues to reopen but limits the number of people who can be inside at one time. Restaurants can offer outdoor dining with tables spaced six feet apart. And dog parks can reopen, but humans should maintain six feet of distance from each other and bring water for themselves and their canine companions because water faucets and drinking fountains are still turned off. You can find more information about other recently reopened activities at www.acphd.org/2019-ncov. And be sure to wear your mask when you visit reopened sites!

We’re listening to each other  
After hearing from multiple young Alameda residents of color about their negative encounters with, or fear of the police, I organized a facilitated forum attended by some of these youth in their teens and early 20s, as well as three Alameda Police Department (APD) officers and APD Chief Paul Rolleri. Youth mentor and Alameda Unified School District staff member Robbie Wilson and I also attended. Facilitators were Regina Jackson, CEO of East Oakland Youth Development Center and President of Oakland Police Commission and Rev. Jacqueline Thompson, Senior Pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland.

The conversation began with a question, “Have you ever had a positive experience with the police?” None of the youth raised their hand. When asked, “Do you think it’s possible to build trust in the police?” four hands were raised, and all six youth shared experiences that led to their mistrust of police.

In the course of a two-hour discussion, many constructive suggestions emerged, including providing more training and mental health resources for officers who, as Rev. Thompson noted, are “stretched so thin today.” Also having APD offer classes that aren’t taught at police academy, such as ethnic studies and civil rights, and the importance of police knowing the history of race relations in the community where they work.

A Youth Advisory Commission would give young people a voice in community issues that impact them. 

Other recommendations involved community policing. Ms. Wilson said, “Police need to get out of their cars more and get to know people in the community.” A Police Athletic League is one way for police to get to know and gain trust of youth in the community because, as Ms. Jackson observed, “If you only encounter people at their worst, you don’t build their trust. The onus is on officers to change their behaviors and the public’s perception of police.”

At a recent Black Lives Matter Town Hall organized by Alameda High student, Raquel Williams, a rising Senior and President of the Black Students Union, urged viewers to challenge others who make racist comments in your presence and called for making Juneteenth “a celebration of the end of systemic racism.”

At a Juneteenth Town Hall via Zoom, organized by Robbie Wilson and Black Achievers Alliance, John Jones III; Community and Political Engagement Director for Just Cities and a formerly unsheltered parolee, reminded participants that we all bear responsibility for ending racism and encouraged us to “view life through the lens of others.”

Youth forum facilitator, Regina Jackson, noted that, “changing culture takes time, money and commitment.”

I believe Alameda is ready for this challenge. It’s time to question assumptions we make about those we perceive as different. We must seize this pivotal moment.

Wear your mask. Be open to change. Be Alameda Strong!

 

Marilyn Ezzy Aschcraft is the mayor of Alameda