Alameda County health officer Dr. Erica Pan told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that she can’t explain why the county has fewer coronavirus cases than other counties in the Bay Area with large populations.
Responding to a question by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Pan said, “I don’t have a good answer for that now.” But Pan said Alameda County officials shouldn’t be complacent because there’s been “an exponential increase” in the number of cases in the county. Pan said there were only three reported cases in the county when she briefed the board last week but that number had grown to 24 as of Tuesday morning.
In response to a question by Supervisor Keith Carson about how she will enforce an order she and other Bay Area health officers issued on Tuesday mandating that residents shelter in place, Pan said, “It’s not my intention to create a police state and really lock down.” Pan said, “I won’t be out there on the streets” and thinks most people will comply with the order voluntarily. She admitted, “It’s a large order and is clearly unprecedented.”
The orders in Alameda County and neighboring counties allow companies that provide essential services to remain open.
Supervisor Keith Carson said he’s been “inundated” by questions by Tesla, which has an electric vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, and other companies about how the county is defining essential businesses. Alameda County Health Care Services Director Colleen Chawla said that’s the number one question she’s been asked but said there’s not a definitive answer to it.
Chawla said, “It’s an individual community member’s responsibility to take the order seriously. Many businesses are moving in this direction (temporarily closing their doors) anyway.” County Counsel Donna Ziegler said, “Many businesses are complying on a voluntary basis.”
In a related action at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to direct county staff to create an ordinance providing a temporary 30-day moratorium on evictions in the unincorporated part of the county in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The board’s jurisdiction includes unincorporated areas, and City Councils govern eviction laws for individual cities.
The board’s vote comes one day after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order authorizing local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners. Chan and Carson, who introduced the directive, said it would prevent renters in the unincorporated areas from being evicted if they can demonstrate a substantial loss of income as a result of the coronavirus. That could include loss of employment, reduction in paid work hours workplace closure and the need to care for a home-bound school-age child.