COVID-19 in Oakland: Updates and Resources

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Follow Oakland Voices’ COVID-19 coverage here, with twice-a-week news updates and articles.

Check out Masks We Wear, reflections from our Oakland Voices Correspondents about how they feel wearing a mask and the issues it brings up.

August 3, 2020

COVID-19 may worsen in Oakland, Alameda County – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

There are 11,846 COVID-19 cases in Alameda County. Oakland’s count rose to 4,471, as of this weekend, according to the County Public Health Department. 

July 27, 2020

COVID-19 cases surge in East Oakland flatlands – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

East Oakland continues to be hardest hit by COVID-19. The Fruitvale area has 1,187 cases. Other East Oakland neighborhoods like Brookfield, Sobrante Park, and the area around the Coliseum also saw increased cases. 

At a press conference Friday, Dr. Noha Aboelata of Roots Community Health Center said some Oakland residents have “put their guard down.” People attending social gatherings or parties have contributed to the surge in cases, East Bay Times reported. 

July 23, 2020

California COVID-19 cases at all time high; Oakland nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder dies of COVID-19 – news update by Momo Chang

East Oakland continues to have the highest rates of cases; in particular, zip codes 94601, 94603, and 94621 now have the highest case rates and together, make up 2,284 cases — or 61 percent of all cases in Oakland. In April, Oakland Voices Coordinator Rasheed Shabazz reported on this trend, noting that two-thirds of cases in Oakland were concentrated in East Oakland.

July 20, 2020

Alameda County pauses reopening plan, allows outdoor dining – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

Alameda County is on the State Monitoring list due to high local case rate, an amount higher than 100 per 100,000 people per day. 

July 16, 2020

COVID-19 in Oakland: OUSD and al fresco dining updates – news update by Momo Chang

Alameda County is at 8,478 cases (data as of July 14), nearly doubling the number of cases from just a month ago (there were 4,390 cases on June 14). The county is on the state’s watchlist.

July 13, 2020

Alameda County placed on COVID-19 State Monitoring List – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Factors driving increased case rates include increased interpersonal interactions without face coverings and physical distancing, and ongoing transmission among health care workers, within households, in frontline workplace settings, and in skilled nursing and other congregate living facilities,” according to a press release

July 2, 2020

OUSD’s discussion on school re-opening today, with final announcements on Friday, July 10 – news update by Momo Chang

OUSD will be holding a report back on reopening schools this upcoming Fall today. The call takes place Thursday, July 2 from 5-7pm. The district will discuss possible plans for reopening. Parents and others can give feedback on reopening scenarios. Final plans on reopening OUSD schools will be announced on Friday, July 10, according to OUSD.

June 25, 2020

Outdoor dining, religious services open back up in Oakland – news update by Momo Chang

As coronavirus hit an all-time high in California in the last week with more than 6,000 positive cases per day on some days, Oakland and Alameda County are starting to re-open some businesses and places of worship. Oakland currently has 2,109 cases, up from 1,698 10 days ago.

June 18, 2020

Workers at Oakland McDonald’s File Lawsuit for Unsafe Working Conditions – news update by Momo Chang

Workers at North Oakland McDonald’s sue; plus, where to get free COVID-19 tests in Oakland.

June 15, 2020

Oakland, Alameda County to reopen amid racial disparities – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Latinos are nearly half of all cases in Alameda County. Fruitvale has become Oakland’s epicenter. 

Concerns continue for other communities of color, as the death rate of African Americans is the highest. Pacific Islanders have been overlooked. Last week, Native Americans reached 10 cases, enough to be listed on the Alameda County dashboard.”

June 11, 2020

Hospitalizations in Alameda County Mostly Stable But Racial Disparities Among Positive COVID-19 Cases Worse Than May – news update by Momo Chang

“Latinx people make up 22% of Alameda County’s population, yet they represent 47% of the cases in Alameda County (if we include the Hispanic white population based on the Census, the percentage of Latinx in Alameda County is 30%).”

June 8, 2020

Face coverings now mandatory in Alameda County – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“The most recent face covering order requires face coverings to be worn at all times, including when you are outdoors and physical activities like walking, running, or biking within 30 feet of people outside of your household. Face coverings are coverings of cloth, fabric, or other material that covers the nose and mouth and lower face. Masks can be reusable if washed.”

June 5, 2020

Oakland Public Libraries are Closed, but still Serving us in the Pandemic: What about this Summer? – by Katharine Davies Samway

“Now that the libraries are closed, people are coming to the outside of the branch libraries to access the WiFi. “It’s a huge issue,” he said, referring to people lacking WiFi access.”

June 4, 2020

Oakland Councilmembers want to Ban Tear Gas Used Against Protesters; Reporting on Unhoused Issues during COVID-19 – news update by Momo Chang

“COVID-19 cases are now at 1,299 in Oakland, and 3,548 in Alameda County. Our correspondents Iris M. Crawford and Aqueila M. Lewis chat with two organizers of unhoused communities in Oakland to see the pressing issues during COVID-19, and beyond.

Councilmembers Sheng Thao, Rebecca Kaplan, and Nikki Fortunato Bas are asking Mayor Libby Schaaf, the Oakland Police, and the City Administrator to ban the use of tear gas during recent and upcoming protests in light of COVID-19.”

June 3, 2020

COVID-19: Generations of Oaklanders share living life with social distancing and shelter-in-place – by Ryan Barba

“Fern Stanson, 28, from “the Dubs,” a 3rd generation Oaklander said that she and her entire family have recently become unemployed due to COVID-19. Being forced to shelter-in-place under one roof, Stanson said that her family has grown tired of each other and that it has stymied her from attending classes that would have prepared her for nursing school.”

June 2, 2020

The Village Oakland’s Needa Bee Speaks Out – by Iris M. Crawford and Aqueila M. Lewis

“The government should have pushed to move people in before they got sick, which would have helped prevent the spread. It speaks volumes to the anti-homeless sentiment, anti-Black, anti-poverty sentiment of our politicians that let folks stay in the street and not help them shelter-in-place.”

Love and Justice in the Streets’ Talya Husbands-Hankin sees homelessness as an “absolute human rights violation” – by Iris M. Crawford

“What COVID-19 shows us is that we are all connected, so if we don’t take care of the most vulnerable, everyone will be impacted.”

June 1, 2020

COVID-19 cases still rising in Oakland, as people protest police killings – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Oakland now has 1,229 cases of COVID-19. Alameda County has 3,470 cases and 96 people have died, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. Twelve weeks into shelter in place and the number of coronavirus cases does not appear to be letting up, despite the recent relaxation of restrictions.”

May 28, 2020

OUSD Schools Re-Open August 10; Free Meals Continue Through Summer with 24 Sites – news update by Momo Chang

“OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell recently released an announcement with some possible scenarios of what classrooms will look like this Fall. The scenarios depend on how things go as far as COVID-19 rates, current research, and funding.”

May 27, 2020

Will churches resume service in Oakland this Sunday amid COVID-19? – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

East Oakland pastor, Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church has vowed to reopen his church this Sunday. Two weeks ago, Jackson hosted a re-open rally and called church services “essential.”

Word Assembly Pastor Johnnie Clark contracted COVID-19, but recovered. He urged churches not to re-open. He advised, “How dare you? Who are you to tell people to go to a place that’s unsafe?”

May 26, 2020

Oakland surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 cases – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Alameda County’s Public Health Department reports that, as of Memorial Day, Oakland now has 1,031 cases, the most in the County and more than the total of the next four most populous cities combined. The County reported 569 cases in Hayward, 202 in the unincorporated Eden Area, and 157 Fremont. Berkeley has its own public health department and reported 86 cases.”

May 21, 2020

Oakland Now Has 849 cases of COVID-19; More OPD Members Test Positive – news update by Momo Chang

Alameda County now has the highest number of cases in the Bay Area, at 2,560 as of data from May 19, 2020. Santa Clara County, which previously had the highest number or COVID-19 cases, has 2,492 cases as of May 20. The number of cases in Oakland is at 849 now, the most of all the cities in the county (Oakland is the most populated city in the county, with Fremont being the second largest; Fremont has 143 cases).”

May 20, 2020

Unmasked: Finding kindness in strangers underneath the COVID-19 masks – by Jo Ann Hollis

“I noticed in Safeway the other day that people nodded and behaved so differently; so nice. I mentioned to another shopper how unusual but encouraging it felt to be around so many nice people for a change. The negativity stays behind the mask and the true person has no choice but to be exposed through their eyes.”

May 19, 2020

“’Being home alone and my whole outside world being pretty much shut down is paving the road for me to focus and concentrate on my relationship with my Creator,’ Amelah El-Amin said. El-Amin, a recent Oakland Voices graduate, said Muslim families experiences with COVID-19 vary. Some are ‘finding solace in the downtime’ while others may be ‘feeling cabin fever and some hopelessness based on the thought that this could go on for another couple months or so,’ El-Amin said.”

For Oakland Muslims, Ramadan, faith greater than Coronavirus – by Rasheed Shabazz

May 18, 2020

Alameda County eases stay at home restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to rise – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Retails stores may resume business, but only with curbside or storefront pick-up and delivery. Manufacturing businesses and warehouses can operate under the state ‘Resilience Roadmap.’ Last week, Fremont-based Tesla filed suit against Alameda County. 

Public and private gatherings are still banned, but ‘vehicle-based gatherings’ of up to 200 cars at a time can gather for up to three hours. Gatherings with over 100 cars must have on site security in partnership with law enforcement or private security. Food and drinks cannot be sold at these events. Oakland’s sideshows likely will not qualify.”

May 14, 2020

Oakland Library and World Central Kitchen Pair to Distribute Free Meals in East Oakland; City Council Passes Emergency Sick Leave – news update by Momo Chang

“World Central Kitchen is the organization started by Chef and activist José Andrés, who is working with local Oakland restaurateurs and chefs to make prepped meals in boxes to give away to essential workers. Now, some of these meals will be distributed at the 81st Avenue Branch in East Oakland three times a week.”

May 13, 2020

Teachers in East Oakland Rise to the Challenge Eight Weeks after School Closure – article by Katharine Davies Samway

Two months into schools being closed, three East Oakland teachers say some students have yet to have internet access during this time, and how many students do not like online learning.

May 12, 2020

Despite Coronavirus, the Next Jackson Band Plays On and Records its Album in Oakland – article by Tony Daquipa

“JAX is a stereotype-defying group of talented and creative teens who have been playing together for the past seven years. Their parents, mom Sandrine and dad Ajayi, are both artists who have raised their children in the vibrant and eclectic Oakland arts scene. As a result, their music is complex and incredibly mature, and they come off as well-prepared for the stardom that surely awaits them in the near future.”

May 11, 2020

Oakland tenants strike, COVID-19 testing site opens in Deep East Oakland – news update by Rasheed Shabazz and Momo Chang

“About 250 Oakland renters have announced a rent strike against Oakland landlords…”

May 8, 2020

Tuesday Morning at Arsola’s Food Pantry in Oakland During COVID-19 – article by Bill Joyce

“Even before COVID-19, the Alameda County Community Food Bank reached 330,000 people experiencing hunger. Since then and consistent with national trends, it is receiving six times the typical number of calls for food assistance due to rising unemployment and food insecurity in the community.”

May 5, 2020

Oakland Teacher Jeadi Vilchis Produces Face Shields for Essential Workers with 3D Printer – article by Debora Gordon

“After the pandemic highlighted the shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), Vilchis realized had the tools, machinery, and, after a bit of experimentation, the know-how to produce protective shields for healthcare workers.”

May 4, 2020

Oakland has over 500 COVID-19 cases – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Latinos have the highest number of cases in Alameda County, 571, followed by Asians, 274, whites 257, and African Americans, 187. There are 373 cases marked as “unknown race.” Officials announced a racial disparities task force on April 17, but have yet to notify the public of its first meeting.”

April 30, 2020

New Bay Area Shelter-in-Place Order – news update by Momo Chang

“One of the major changes is expanding essential businesses to include more types of businesses, as well as opening of some outdoor businesses.”

April 27, 2020

Alameda County coronavirus cases to top 1,500 – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“The number of COVID-19 cases in Oakland increased over the weekend. As of Sunday, 430 Oakland residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Alameda County reports 1,498 positive cases and 52 deaths. 

Last week, Oakland Voices reported that two-thirds of positive COVID-19 cases in the Town are in East Oakland.”

Bay Area shelter-in-place order extended through May – news update by Oakland Voices staff

“’Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases,’ according to a joint statement from Health Officers from six Bay Area counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara — and the City of Berkeley.'”

Mask Oakland and the 411 on N95 Respirator Masks – article by Kat Ferreira

“It might seem that Mask Oakland would be well positioned to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic based on their success during past California fire seasons, but Redwoods explained the grassroots organization has become an educated spectator in a global trade war.'”

Need a COVID-19 Mask? Oakland Activists and Artists Can Help – article by Kat Ferreira

“Oakland’s local activists and artists are stepping up to meet the community’s needs as best they can. Below are some of the Oakland-based mask makers who are helping to ensure we stay safer during the pandemic.”

April 25, 2020

The Black New Deal for Oakland: COVID-19 Demands – Oakland Voices

“On April 19, Community Ready Corps and The Anti Police-Terror Project convened a wide range of Black leaders in Oakland virtually to develop a set of demands in terms of what we expect of our City’s response to this crisis.”

April 23, 2020

New map shows East Oakland hit hardest by COVID-19 – article by Rasheed Shabazz

“Oakland has 366 of Alameda County’s 1,350 coronavirus cases in Alameda County, the highest in the County. Over two-thirds of Oakland’s COVID-19 cases are in East Oakland.”

OUSD School Board Update, Oakland Councilman Calls for East Oakland COVID-19 Test Site – news update by Momo Chang

“As Berkeleyside‘s Darwin BondGraham tweeted from the Oakland City Council meeting earlier this week, Councilman Larry Reid (D-7) is asking for a COVID-19 test site in East Oakland, as well as disaggregated COVID-19 data in Oakland based on zip code. San Francisco and other cities have released detailed geographic data, leading to more targeted testing and resources.”

April 22, 2020

Oakland residents skeptical of ‘Slow Streets’ project – article by Ayodele Nzinga

“John Arthur Jones, III of the East Oakland Pillars views the Slow Streets plan as another tool for displacement and believes the city did not conduct enough outreach in advance. ‘Oakland has a long history of decisions being made by the City that adversely affect communities,’ Jones said. ‘How information is shared with the community is problematic. ‘Shelter in place’ and ‘Come and exercise in the streets’ is a conflicting message.'”

While students were learning at home, OUSD Board gives favorable deal to charter school on public land – article by Tony Daquipa

“In the month following the Board’s decision to cut $18.8 million from the budget, the Board has approved over $12.7 million in service contracts through the end of next school year, extended the School Police contract through next year, gave a charter school a favorable deal on a 40-year lease of a former public school campus, expanded another charter school’s lease of another former public school campus, and offered classroom space to two other charter schools under Prop 39.”

April 21, 2020

COVID-19: Oakland residents must wear masks in public – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“An order issued by Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan last Friday requires all residents to wear face coverings in public.”

April 16, 2020

Mayor Libby Schaaf to hold virtual town hall every Thursday; Community Foods Market delivers groceries to seniors on EBT – news update by Momo Chang

“Questions can be submitted here. This week’s topic is focusing on racial health disparities, with guest Dr. Tony Iton, who is Senior Vice President of the California Endowment.”

April 15, 2020

How Oakland families are adjusting to the shelter-in-place – by Amelah El-Amin

“The stress on essential workers is also taking its toll. Michael Jackson, 50, is a bus driver and is considered an “essential” worker. He leaves his home for about 10 hours a day, five days a week. He is in constant contact with the public. Due to the nationwide shortage, Jackson’s company has not provided masks or gloves. Jackson found it necessary to buy his own box of gloves. He acquired a mask from his neighbor.”

April 14, 2020

‘Watching church’: Oakland churches embraces technology during COVID-19 shelter-in-place – by Brandy Collins

“However, ‘watching church’ is not a new phenomenon. What we think of as Televangelism or television ministry began in the 1950s with weekly Sunday services broadcast on television.  Along the same lines, many Oakland churches had to prepare for serving parishioners using streaming of Sunday Services, with Easter Sunday being one of the more significant Christian holidays.”

COVID-19: Calmness through chaos as a community college student and essential worker – perspective by Ryan Barba

“Although I wear a mask with a carbon filter, two layers of disposable gloves and a pair of safety glasses for protection, the fear of contracting the virus is always apparent.”

April 13, 2020

Family walking and biking on an Oakland Slow Street and wearing face coverings during COVID-19. (City of Oakland)

Oakland closes streets during COVID-19 pandemic; unhoused residents find shelter in hotels – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

Academic and Social Absence – perspective from Jo Ann Bell

“One of the staff members, Anne, is not only an administrative employee, but also drives for Meals On Wheels in her spare time.”

April 9, 2020

Oakland COVID-19 Numbers: 149 tested positive so far – news update by Momo Chang

Tuesday night neighborhood concert with Grammy Award-nominated Latin Jazz Musician – article by Katharine Davies Samway

“‘I think everyone was hungering for a connection. We’ve all seen around the world people singing and it seemed like a logical thing to do,’ said John Santos, a Grammy nominated Latin jazz percussionist.'”

April 8, 2020

Oakland Jews celebrate Passover amid coronavirus – article by Rasheed Shabazz

“‘We will be doing two seders on Zoom this year, one with family and one with friends,’ Schuchat said. ‘I don’t expect it will be the same, and we won’t be eating the meal in front of each other on the computer screen!'”

The meaning of Passover during the COVID-19 pandemic – by Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin as told to Rasheed Shabazz

“COVID-19 is serving as that reminder, that our lives are in the hands of each other, and the only way we can all stay safe is if we take responsibility for everyone else.”

Alameda County must publish racial, city-level data for COVID-19 cases and deaths – column by Rasheed Shabazz

“Nearly 13,000 people in the U.S. have died due to COVID-19, including 450 in California and over 100 in the Bay Area. Besides being two of the 13 deaths in Alameda County, Fenceroy and Johnson Hopper have two other things in common: both lived in Oakland and are Black.”

Sheltering-in-place in the Laurel district – article by Bill Joyce

“Potential exposure to COVID-19 prompted the regular sitter to quit. Though I’m in one of the at risk groups at age 69—and otherwise scrupulously isolating myself and maintaining social distance on rare runs to the Food Mill and Safeway—I’m lucky to be able to support Angie’s parents, both of whom are extremely fortunate to still be working.”

April 6, 2020

West Oakland Distillery Wright & Brown is keeping it clean by producing hand sanitizer for first responders – article by Iris Crawford

“Wright & Brown has already donated 150 gallons to local agencies such as Highland Hospital, the Oakland Fire Department, Asian Health Services, Self Help for the Elderly, and several homeless service agencies. The company is one of just a few Oakland-based distilleries making hand sanitizer: another one is Oakland Spirits Company, as well as a few more in Alameda County including Falcon Spirits in Richmond.

Unhoused in Oakland during COVID-19 pandemic – article by Markaya Spikes

“Being unhoused in Oakland, the shelter-in-place has impacted my income, access to resources, and my daughter’s education. The lockdown has limited my access to work. Not having work makes it difficult to maintain any type of normalcy I can while already being unhoused.”

Oakland opens second COVID-19 testing site, residents raise funds for service providers – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

April 2, 2020

New Bay Area COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, Oakland schools closed, unemployment rises – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Alameda County’s Public Health Department reports 373 coronavirus-related cases (not including the City of Berkeley), and nine people have died, as of Thursday, April 2. Alameda County’s Public Health Department does not provide data on Oakland cases.

March 26, 2020

More East Bay Regional Parks close due to COVID-19, City to discuss Eviction Moratorium – news update by Momo Chang

“Oakland City Councilwoman Nikki Fortuno Bas, President Pro Tempore Dan Kalb, and City Attorney Barbara Parker introduced a moratorium on evictions, rent increase, and late fees during this period. The item will be discussed in a special meeting on Friday, March 27, 2020 via teleconferencing.

March 25, 2020

Six virtual places for Oakland residents to spiritually connect amid coronavirus lockdown – article by Amelah El-Amin

“The Bay Area and statewide shelter-in-place has forced local mosques, churches, synagogues, and other places of worship to shut down. Social distancing, though it may flatten the curve in the spread of COVID-19, has crippled the social life of our communities.  Many who find much solace in weekly spiritual meetings now find themselves locked out of their chosen places of worship.”

March 23, 2020

How are small businesses and workers in Oakland being protected? – article by Iris Crawford

“As we continue to grapple with COVID-19, many are faced with compromising situations such as how to deal with the  sudden loss of employment and how to properly prepare and stay healthy. As some folks figure out how to move forward, there are some options that offer to help in this crisis.”

Oakland COVID-19 UpdateL First Alameda County death, AC transit fare-free, Oakland schools – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“The Alameda County Public Health Department does not provide city-level data, so it is not clear how many COVID-19 cases are in the City of Oakland. There are 112 cases in Alameda County, excluding the City of Berkeley. Alameda County announced its first coronavirus-related death this morning.”

March 20, 2020

A close up black and white photo of a child's hand on the mousepad of a laptop.
Photo by r. nial bradshaw via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

How Oakland Teachers are Adapting to Distance Learning – article by Tony Daquipa

“What has become more clear since the school closures is that schools are more than just places where students learn: they provide food, shelter, sometimes healthcare, and much more.”

Bay Area lockdown extends to all of California – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Governor Gavin Newsom issued an indefinite stay at home order on Thursday, just days after Bay Area health officials issued a “shelter-in-place” order. California is the first state to order mandatory restrictions to combat COVID-19, and the order will impact nearly 40 million people living in the state.”

March 17, 2020

Oakland residents must stay home, Bay Area health officials order – news update Rasheed Shabazz

“On March 16, public health officers for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara counties, and the City of Berkeley, evoked state law to order residents to stay home for three weeks.”

March 16, 2020

Oakland school, college closures due to coronavirus – news update by Rasheed Shabazz

“Officials have closed most local schools, colleges, and universities amid concerns of the coronavirus. Oakland Voices has compiled a list of local schools and colleges impacted.”


Alameda County Public Health Department

Alameda County Public Health Department (with City of Berkeley numbers) COVID-19 Data

CalFresh Benefits

Coronavirus Small Business and Loans Resources (SBA)

California Employment Development Department (EDD)

Covered California

City of Oakland COVID-19 Business and Worker Resources

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