Update March 11:
Oakland, CA – 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, 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.