New Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: City declares local emergency, issues order to cancel all large public events, and expands sanitation services for unsheltered residents.

Date Posted: March 4th, 2020 @ 4:26 PM
Last Updated: March 25th, 2020 @ 6:14 PM
image of novel coronavirus and CDC logo

Update: March 13, 2020

Oakland, CA – With the health and well-being of Oakland residents in mind, the City Administrator’s Office has announced the temporary closure of specific City facilities and programming. This decision is a result of the most recent guidance for mass gatherings from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPH), meant to reduce community transmission, decrease the introduction of COVID-19 into new communities, and slow and decrease the spread of the virus. These recommendations have been updated to align with guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on March 12, 2020 and replace ACPH’s local guidance issued on March 10, 2020.

“We are in unprecedented times, and it will take all of us to guide our operations, serve the public and come together as a community to weather this storm,” Interim City Administrator Steven Falk said. “As we make decisions over the next days and weeks, we will choose options that maximize employee and public safety and save lives. There will undoubtedly be uncomfortable trade-offs ahead.”

“The health and well-being of Oakland’s residents and employees is our first priority,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “We understand the closures will impact many people’s lives in Oakland and particularly hard-working families who will be challenged to provide childcare and maintain work schedules. We will continue to work with our county, state, and federal partners to create new measures of relief to assist all residents during this time. I ask all Oaklanders to do what we do best: Unite, help one another, and move through this moment with resilience and grace.”

Oakland Police, Fire and other emergency public safety services will not be affected during this time. The facilities listed below will be closed as of Monday, March 16 until further notice.

Specific Service Closures:

  • All library locations will be closed.
  • All Recreation Centers will be closed. All permitted activities, including facility rentals, are cancelled. Our staff will inform individuals with current reservations and registrations. Should you have any questions, please contact the Central Reservation Unit at (510) 238-3420.
  • All Senior Centers will be closed.
  • All Head Start and Early Head Start program sites will be closed.

Note: OPL will extend loan periods during this time, and patrons do not need to return materials until OPL is back in full operation.

# # #

Update: March 13, 2020

City of Oakland Outlines Small Business, Workforce Support to Mitigate Impacts of COVID-19

To mitigate the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City wants to highlight a variety of programs and efforts to support small businesses and workers. These resources include assistance with small business taxes, state and federal loan programs, worker benefits programs, and other direct business support.

The City has also launched a web page to serve as a portal for all the local, state and federal resources available to support small businesses, nonprofits and workers during this crisis.

Businesses, nonprofits and the self-employed are invited to submit data about the nature and extent of the impacts resulting from COVID-19 via an input form.

Read the media release.

Update: March 11, 2020

The World Health Organization announced today that it has characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Yesterday, the Alameda County Public Health Department announced new recommendations and guidance to protect Alameda County residents from COVID-19, reduce community transmission of the virus, and decrease its spread. This guidance recommended that non-essential mass gatherings and large community events be postponed or cancelled.

In response to this rapidly evolving public health crisis, the City of Oakland has declared a local emergency, issued an order to cancel all large public events at City-owned facilities, and expanded sanitation services for all unsheltered residents, as detailed below.

City of Oakland Declares Local Emergency

Although there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oakland, on Monday, March 9, Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth issued a Proclamation of a Local Emergency related to the growing public health threat related to the COVID-19 virus, consistent with the Public Health Emergency declared by Alameda County on March 1, 2020, and the State of Emergency declared by the State of California on March 4, 2020.

The Proclamation (attached), which will be presented to the Oakland City Council for confirmation and ratification tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, also requests that the Governor make available all available resources to the City and seeks a Presidential Declaration of a Federal Emergency.

“This action is a prudent, precautionary step that will position the City to respond to the emerging challenges posed by the potential spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The City of Oakland is currently faced with many emerging issues—from employee concerns to facility issues to potential impacts to our unsheltered population. The powers provided in the local emergency declaration will enable the Administration to:

  • Procure necessary goods and services,
  • Establish necessary rules and regulations,
  • Expand the capability to communicate updates and recommendations to City employees and the community; and
  • Redeploy existing resources to best protect the health and safety of our employees, the well-being of our residents—especially those experiencing homelessness—the health of our local economy, and the continued provision of City services.

On Monday, March 9, the City also initiated Level 1 activation of the Emergency Operations Center, the lowest level possible. This activation will facilitate timely monitoring of emerging issues and concerns, and enhanced, more efficient coordination of City staff, resources, and response.

City Administrator Orders Postponement or Cancellation of Large Events at City-owned Facilities Until March 31, 2020

Yesterday, March 10, the Alameda County Department of Public Health issued guidance with respect to mass gatherings and events to “to protect people attending and working at the event and the local community from COVID-19 infection; and (2) to reduce community transmission, decrease the introduction of COVID-19 into new communities, and slow and decrease the spread of the virus.”

In response to that guidance, today City Administrator Sabrina Landreth issed an order, effective immediately, that large events scheduled between March 12 and March 31, 2020 at City-owned facilities with capacity of more than 1,000 people shall be postponed or cancelled. The order indicated that evaluation of the situation and guidance from public health officials will drive extension of this order, if deemed appropriate.

In their recommendations, Alameda County public health officials defined large events as more than 1,000 people. The City of Oakland’s order pertains to City-owned facilities, including the Fox Theater, Paramount Theater, and the Oakland Convention Center. The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority also cancelled all events at the Coliseum and Arena until March 31.

“Our first priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of all Oaklanders, as well as those who visit our city,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Although there are no known positive cases of COVID-19 within Oakland right now, postponing large gatherings will help prevent the spread of the virus. We take these measures to prepare and protect our community and ground our decisions in facts, not fear. We will continue to work closely and take guidance from our partners at the Alameda County Public Health Department and keep our residents updated.”

City Expands Sanitation Services to Homeless Encampments

The City of Oakland is partnering with Alameda County—the lead public health agency—to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among unsheltered residents. To assist all unsheltered residents throughout the County, and specifically in Oakland, the City and County have partnered to accomplish the following:

  • Increased direct outreach to distribute small hand sanitizers, hygiene packets, and informational handouts from the CDC;
  • Added hand sanitizers to 20 sites where hygiene services (i.e., portable toilets and hand-washing stations) currently exist;
  • Delivered additional toilets, hand sanitizer, and wash stations to an additional 20 encampment sites;
  • Increased hygiene services to Oakland’s Community Cabin and RV Safe Parking sites;
  • Increased cleaning and supplies at indoor shelters.

Additionally, the City and County are reviewing options to find locations if unsheltered individuals need to self-quarantine. The City and County will continue to collaborate closely on this effort.

Update: March 9, 2020

Federal and State Public Health Agencies Announce Community Protection Measures Related to the Grand Princess Cruise Ship Operation

At around 12 noon today, the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland and the passenger disembarkation process has begun. The Federal and State public health agencies managing this operation issued a message describing the measures they are employing to minimize local exposure and protect workers and our community; click here:

Please note that City of Oakland employees are not directly involved in this operation; the City’s role is solely that of support to the Federal and State agencies.

Here is a section of the plan developed by State and Federal officials for community safety during this operation:

At no time will any passengers or Grand Princess Staff be outside of the ship without close medical supervision or federal/state escort. There will be no threat to the community from direct contact with any passengers or cruise ship staff. All equipment associated with this operation will be disinfected prior to demobilization at the pier and will not reside in any community location. Federal officials will be constantly evaluating risk during this operation and mitigating any potential breach of safety. Health and Human Services senior medical and safety staff will oversee all operations.

Update: March 8, 2020

The State of California (Governor’s Office of Emergency Services) is working with the Federal government (Department of Health and Human Services) to help the passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship, nearly 1,000 of whom are California residents, disembark from the ship. That operation will take place at the Port of Oakland beginning Monday, March 9; the exact time has not yet been determined. This operation is being led by the federal government, in partnership with the State of California. The Port and City of Oakland were asked to support.

The most recent statement from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) is here:

A few key points to highlight from that update:

  • The ship will only be docked during the duration of the disembarkment. The ship will depart Oakland as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the ship crew’s quarantine.
  • The passengers will not be released into the general public.
  • Passengers who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be transported to health care facilities in California.
  • If passengers do not require acute medical care following health screenings, those who are California residents will go to a federally-run isolation facility within California for testing and isolation. Non-Californians will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states. The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.

Governor Newsom also hosted a news conference today with opening remarks from Mayor Libby Schaaf. A link to that video is here:

During the news conference, Mayor Schaaf articulated her top three priorities: 1) to ensure the safety and health of our community, especially the workers and residents closest to the Port; 2) to ensure that the public and community stay informed, guided by the facts, not fears; 3) to do the right thing to help these people who have been stranded on the ship and not let fear dictate our humanity.

Mayor Schaaf also emphasized that from the outset she made it clear to State and Federal officials that this is a community that has suffered decades of environmental injustice and racism, and she sought and received strong assurances that the operation would:

  • Employ the best isolation practices known
  • Minimize the time the ship and its passengers are in Oakland
  • No one will be released into our community

Why Oakland?

Many people are asking, “Why Oakland?” According to CalOES: “After careful review of all options, the Port of Oakland was selected as the best site for the ship to disembark. There are limited docks that will be able to dock a ship of that size, and the Port of Oakland location was the easiest to seal off, securely move passengers toward their isolation destination and protect the safety of the public.”

Governor Newsom praised Mayor Schaaf and local leaders for their leadership: “The City of Oakland, Alameda County and the Port of Oakland are stepping up in a major way, and their residents deserve universal praise. They are showing the world what makes our state great – coming to the rescue of thousands of people trapped aboard this ship and helping tackle a national emergency,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Mayor Schaaf stated, “Oakland’s role in this operation is to support our state and federal authorities as they conduct a critical public health mission to help those impacted by the COVID-19 virus…I have been assured that no one will be quarantined in Oakland, nor will any passengers be released into the general public.”

Staying Healthy

Public health officials recommend you take these precautions to stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:

  • Wash hands with liquid soap and hot water and rub for at least 20 seconds;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • If you are sick, stay home;
  • Avoid close contact (less than 6 feet) with people who are sick;
  • Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has some similar symptoms to COVID-19;
  • Use disinfectant wipes to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, including your work station, phone, computer keyboard, remote controls, and other work equipment;
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19

According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-12 days after exposure and include: fever, cough, shortness of breath. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What is the City of Oakland doing to address COVID-19?

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and information is changing quickly. The City's COVID-19 Emergency Planning Team remains in close coordination with public health experts at:

The Emergency Planning Team is taking measures to plan for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak and working to ensure that the plans, policies, and protocols related to COVID-19 will sustain the continuity of operations, services, and safety of City employees and the Oakland community. The City’s Emergency Management Division is coordinating with emergency managers across Alameda County to plan for the following:

  • Ways to reduce contact between people if public health officials call for social distancing,
  • Possibility of school closures and cancellations of mass gatherings,
  • Protecting people who are at higher risk for complications from illness, and
  • Maintaining operations.

The City will continue to monitor the recommendations and follow public health advice from the Alameda County Department of Public Health, and the California Department of Public Health, and the CDC as this situation continues to evolve.

Stay up to Date on the Latest Public Health Guidance:

We encourage you to visit these websites to stay current on how to protect you and your family:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

California Department of Public Health:

Alameda County Public Heath Department:

  • The Alameda County Public Health Department has advised that at this time, they are not recommending cancellation of schools or mass gatherings. Vulnerable populations who are at higher risk of contracting the illness may want to avoid mass gatherings.