Alameda County to Reinstate Public Indoor Mask Mandate Beginning June 3rd

Businesses here don’t want them because they cut into business, but look what happened – they brought them back’

The Alameda County Public Health Department announced on Thursday that they would be reinstating the mask mandate for most indoor public places in the County.

According to a statement from the County Public Health Department, the move to reinstate masking comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases in Alameda County has shot drastically up in the past several weeks, surpassing last summers Delta variant wave and already encroaching on the number of cases from the 2021-2022 winter surge. The County is averaging between 800-900 new cases a day with 102 people currently being hospitalized for contracting the virus. Both figures are up by 20% from only a few weeks ago.

While the County has become the first to reinstate mandatory indoor masking since the end of the winter surge earlier this year, there will be exceptions in the County. K-12 schools will not be covered by the mandate with it already being the end of the school year, and with the city of Berkeley also not falling under the mandate due to them having their own public health department. However, all other areas, including Oakland, fall under the new mandate.

“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” said Alameda County public health officer Nicholas Moss in the Thursday press statement. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.

“We held off doing this as long as we felt it was reasonable, but with the numbers continuing to go up and when we started to see concerning signals, we felt we needed to act.”

Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director Colleen Chawla also noted that “We thank Alameda County residents, employers, and businesses for continuing to rise to the challenge in response to this pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID has not gone away and once again, we must take measures to protect ourselves, friends and community members, and employees and patrons from this very infectious virus.”

Negative reaction to the return of the indoor mask mandate

However, many citizens and business owners in Alameda County seriously questioned the return of the mask mandate on Thursday, with many reacting negatively to the Department’s decision.

“No. No no no no no,” said Lucinda Jackson, a local East Bay business owner who said her businesses only returned to the black for the first time since early 2020 just last month, to the Globe on Thursday. “They said it wouldn’t happen again. They said on TV masks wouldn’t be back. Everyone was saying they wouldn’t be back. Businesses here don’t want them because they cut into business. But look what happened. They brought them back.”

“This is the same government that right after all the BLM protests, said to go out and support black owned businesses. And now, by putting the mandates back, they are hurting us. This isn’t a one-dimensional issue. Putting the mandates back have consequences way beyond health, which, we should note, isn’t hospitalizing nearly as many people now. This makes me ashamed of my County.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Masks Won’t Be Required In Many Places Starting Wednesday 

Two months after it was put in place to handle the Omicron surge, California’s mask mandate falls at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, though face coverings will still be required in many settings, including schools, hospitals and public transit.

San Diego County’s coronavirus numbers continue to make the case that the pandemic is receding. The daily number of new case notifications received by the county health department dipped below 1,000 Saturday for the first time since Dec. 20, coming in at 933 followed by 787 Sunday.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, state secretary of health and human services, said in a news conference Monday that falling trends in the number of new cases and hospitalizations provide confidence that pulling back on the mask mandate makes sense.

But, he added that while it’s no longer a requirement, wearing a mask indoors, especially in crowded locations, is a good idea given that transmission rates remain high relative to previous quiet periods such as the spring and early summer of 2021.

“We are still strongly recommending that people wear them in public indoor places,” Ghaly said.

The public, though, has largely been ignoring indoor masking rules in many locations, especially restaurants. Generally, enforcement of mask requirements outside health care and education has recently been nearly nonexistent. The point was illustrated at SoFi Stadium Sunday when cameras panning more than 70,000 Superbowl attendees showed that the vast majority had their faces uncovered. 

Maintaining the mandate in schools, but ignoring it in stadiums, drew continued fire from many in the public Monday. Ghaly did not address the dichotomy when asked to comment Monday.

He did stress that the virus continues to exact a toll even though case rates have fallen more than 70 percent over the past month.

“People have lost their lives to this nasty virus, and that continues,” Ghaly said. “That said, we understand a little better where it’s headed, and what’s happened over the last many weeks, and that is why we are prepared, after tomorrow, to allow the guidance for public indoor settings.”

By far the biggest continuing mask requirement remains in K-12 schools. Ghaly said that masks will continue to be required in schools, though a reassessment is set for Feb. 28.

Dr. Davey Smith, chief of infectious disease research at UC San Diego, said he trusts the state’s public health apparatus to react to trends in disease data by adjusting the responses it asks for, and sometimes demands, from the public.

Click here to read the full article at the San Diego Union Tribune

Defying Tyranny Chowing Down on a Double-Double

As soon as I heard In-N-Out Burger joints were being shut down by California governments for not checking for COVID vaccine status at the door, I snapped into action. I drove my creaking 2010 Camry to the nearest In-N-Out, on Bristol and MacArthur in Santa Ana, marched inside and ordered a Double-Double, protein style, extra mustard, no tomato. This is Orange County, where we still enjoy a few more freedoms than the rest of the state. 

I looked around to see if Gov. Gavin Newsom was standing in line, maskless, as at his infamous French Pantry escapade a year ago. He wasn’t. I guess my $5 burger wasn’t elitist enough for someone with $350-a-plate tastes.

Nobody checked my vaccination status. Maybe only 20 percent of patrons were wearing masks. I wasn’t. Sometimes you have to just brave the elements.

Once again, we’re being told the Science (capital “S”) mandates the vaccine-checking. It’s the same Science that told us for decades eating Double-Doubles was bad because they were “high fat,” and we were supposed to instead eat “low fat” candy bars loaded with sugar. See Gary Taubes’ books for the history of that Science deception.

An obvious objection to this new mandate is: minimum-wage fast-food workers are not certified health specialists. How are they to know who has a valid vaxx-ID and who doesn’t? And if a 99-pound woman worker confronts a 250-pound unvaxx’d weightlifter, and he insists he’s coming into the restaurant anyway, what’s she supposed to do?

Then there’s the problem of authenticating the IDs. How are these fast-food workers supposed to know if one is valid and another invalid? What about expiration dates? How about counterfeit IDs? Will plainclothes police (real police) also be patrolling these places, arresting not just scofflaws, but workers who make an incorrect guess about a valid/invalid vaxx-ID?

The California DMV, which issues driver’s licenses and IDs for non-drivers, is a perpetual laughingstock for its incompetence.

Then there’s the Unemployment Development Department, which blew as much as $31 billion on fake claims to criminals. It also was another government agency checking IDs. To correct that, it instituted an absurdly complex and hardly working system that stifled true claims by actual people who really were unemployed.

If the California DMV and the EDD can’t get their acts together on driver’s licenses and IDs, how are minimum-wage clerks at a restaurant supposed to do so? 

If government insists on In-N-Out and other restaurants checking for IDs, it ought to provide the proper experts to do so, at taxpayer expense. This also would require months of training for new people. Or current health workers could be reassigned from their current jobs, such as saving people in the ER hauled in with heart attacks, broken bones and gunshot wounds.

Or maybe the government could just take over all restaurants, and all food production and distribution for that matter. Make sure our food is safe! Everyone in the food industry then could be paid high union wages with great perks and pensions. 

Agriculture could be bundled together into something called Collective Farms. Costs could be cut because, instead of wasteful, duplicative competition, the Collective scientifically would apportion supply and demand, eliminating all waste.

Food grown on the Collective Farms efficiently would be transported to the Collective Restaurants, which would be run along the latest hygienic lines, as established by the CDC. 

Only when government efficiently runs everything will we be free of all worries and cares about disease. Only then can we join hands and promote global freedom, democracy, liberty and niceness.

Longtime Orange County Register editorialist John Seiler now also writes for the Epoch Times and blogs at: johnseiler.substack.com

LA City Vaccine Mandates Kick In Soon, Spurring Worry Over Extra Work, Confusion For Businesses

As the citywide mandates will go into effect Nov. 8, requiring patrons to show evidence of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, wineries, gyms, spas, nail salons anBusinesses say the mandate will add another layer of complexity during the times when their resources are stretched thin as they deal with rental debt, rising costs and labor shortages.

Jennifer Febre, the owner of MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. in Van Nuys, has been closely following government mandates since the first days of the pandemic, but the latest Los Angeles city and county orders — which will not match one another — requiring customers to show proof of vaccination have left her worried and confused.

“I do appreciate how putting this mandate in place is perhaps ratcheting up the pressure to persuade people to finally get vaccinated,” Febre said, adding that at times it feels like her employees are being “deputized as law enforcement officers… I am concerned about putting my staff in that role of being the enforcer.”

As the citywide mandates will go into effect Nov. 8, requiring patrons to show evidence of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, wineries, gyms, spas, nail salons and barbershops along with movie theaters and shopping malls, businesses say the mandate will add another layer of complexity during the times when their resources are stretched thin as they deal with rental debt, rising costs and labor shortages.

Click here to read full article on LA Daily News

California’s Drought is a Communications and Policy Issue


Photo Credit: The International Rice Research Institute

Photo Credit: The International Rice Research Institute

In the face of California’s crippling drought, public agencies will have to employ wide-ranging strategies and tactics to educate, motivate, enforce, and reinforce messages about drastic water cutbacks.

Their success or failure hinges on how they communicate to diverse audiences about managing water, a precious natural resource. In their dilemma, there are also communications lessons.

On Tuesday, California’s State Water Resources Board said residents used 13.5 percent less water against an April 2013 benchmark. This is a significant improvement over previous months, but it also shows a major gap in achieving the mandatory average 25 percent reduction in urban water use ordered by California Governor Jerry Brown. 

The drought has generated thousands of media stories and an unending stream of tweets and posts and sparked intense debate on what needs to be done. Water agencies, city managers, and other local elected officials will have to make major decisions, large and small, about how to urge residents to use much less, and conserve much more, water.

In this highly charged atmosphere, carefully developed communication strategies will be essential to get the public informed and accepting of the solutions required. Organizations will have to engage from the top down at the state level to coordinate messages and from the bottom up at the local level to make relevant, persuasive arguments.

State-level authorities must consistently communicate the need for cooperation through a coordinated, systematic and statewide approach.  Local water interests must develop their own communication programs that appeal to the residents and water users in the jurisdictions. Authorities overseeing water reduction must speak with culturally appropriate voices to residents from diverse backgrounds. Finally, local water interests will succeed from a grassroots approach that aims to be informative rather than punitive.

Eventually the rain and snow will fall. California will experience relief from this prolonged and painful drought. In the meantime, the drought is all but certain to result in future water policy, lifestyle, and societal changes. To what extent California’s lawmakers rewrite future rules hinges on how the state’s water users change behavior and habits now.

As California has done on other issues such as energy, healthcare, and education, the state has the opportunity to model a progressive problem-solving strategy. Impactful communications, thoughtfully implemented, will play a critical role in the success of that strategy. Lessons abound for PR professionals everywhere.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

irector at KP Public Affairs, a PR and lobbying firm based in California

Water guzzlers would be punished under state proposal


As reported by the SF Chronicle:

California officials seeking to cut urban water use by 25 percent amid the punishing drought said Tuesday that the best way to get the job done is to spread the hurt unevenly, slapping the biggest guzzling communities with mandatory cuts up to 35 percent.

This means leafy towns on the Peninsula and a handful of faraway suburbs, where tall trees hover and big lawns rule, would have to make the Bay Area’s largest concessions. The plan is to go easier on places like San Francisco that already consume relatively little water on a per capita basis.

While warm Southern California enclaves such as Palm Springs and Beverly Hills, alongside Central Valley cities like Bakersfield, dominate the state’s list of heavy water users, Northern California spots such as Hillsborough, Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside and Menlo Park also rank high in per capita water use. Consequently, they would be targeted for the strictest cuts on the state’s proposed 10- to 35-percent sliding scale of reductions.

Click here to read the full article