As of Easter, 189 Oakland residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. Within all of Alameda County, there have been 843 cases and 23 deaths. It is unclear how many Oakland residents have died due to COVID-19. Media reports have identified at least three deaths, most recently that of Gene Zahas, an Oakland businessman, who died last week due to COVID-19.
Last week, the County launched a COVID-19 Dashboard in response to rising calls for city-level data and racial/ethnicity data. The dashboard also breaks down cases by age. The vast majority of positive cases are residents ages 21-44. The vast majority of cases are listed as having an “unknown” race. Less than 10 “known” unhoused residents have tested positive, as have 13 inmates at Santa Rita Jail.
Oakland closes 74-miles of streets to thru traffic
Last week, the City of Oakland announced the closure of 74-miles of Oakland streets to thru traffic to encourage walking, biking, and social activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilot project, Oakland Slow Streets, declared all existing and proposed Neighborhood Bike Routes closed to through traffic. For frequently asked questions and maps, visit City of Oakland website.The program is set to end when the shelter-in-place order ends, or when city indicates.
Hotels for Oakland’s Unhoused Residents
Alameda County has reportedly housed 70 unhoused Oakland residents in two local hotels, KTVU reports. The county is operating about 400 rooms at two hotels near the Oakland Airport: Operation Comfort, at the Comfort Inn and Suites, and Operation Safer Ground, at the Radisson Hotel. According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, the state hopes to get 15,000 hotel rooms across the state. Alameda County will seek to have FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reimburse the County for expenses.
Unhoused residents and advocates have been critical of the government’s response. Needa Bee, founder of The Village in Oakland, a group that advocates for and helps organized unhoused residents said, “As we are seeing played out in tragic ways, the pandemic has exposed the injustice fault lines in our society. The response, or lack of response, will make this clear.” Officials hope to get 300 additional units, KTVU reports. KQED first reported efforts by local officials.
Also, Oakland Voices alumna Jo Ann Bell discusses her experience working at a local high school.