COVID-19: Oakland residents must wear masks in public

Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)

As of this weekend, 311 Oakland residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. In all of Alameda County, including the City of Berkeley, 1,191 residents have tested positive for coronavirus and 42 people have died. It is unclear how many are Oakland residents. 

Mask On: Alameda County residents, workers must wear face coverings

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

How to make a mask

People must wear face coverings outside their homes when:

  • Conducting essential business, like inside or in line for grocery stores, laundromats, or restaurants; 
  • Working in construction or “Infrastructure work,” receiving “Healthcare” services, like clinic, dentist, or veterinary; or 
  • Waiting for or riding public transit, like AC Transit or BART, or riding in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle. 
  • Drivers of public transit, and paratransit, must wear face coverings while driving. 
  •  Operations,” 

Children under two years old should not wear masks due to the risk of suffocation. Children under 12 are not required to wear masks.

Face coverings not recommended during outdoor recreation, like walking, running, hiking, or biking. Bicyclists and runners are asked to take additional precautionary measures because air and sneezes can travel further at faster speeds.

Protesters in cars surround sheriff’s office in Oakland, call for release of inmates 

Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)
Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)
Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)

Last Thursday, “about 100 cars encircled the Alameda County administration building and caused a noontime traffic jam outside the [Alameda County] sheriff’s office in Oakland,” Darwin BondGraham reported. Oakland-based Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) led the “Ride on Santa Rita” action meant to demand 

Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)

As of April 20, 16 inmates at Santa Rita Jail have tested positive for COVID-19.

Protesters outside Alameda County Sheriff’s Office call for release of Santa Rita Jail inmates during COVID-19 pandemic. George Galvis leads CURYJ, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, based in Oakland. Brooke Anderson Photography (@movementphotographer)

Oakland City Council meets online and third Tuesdays

Oakland City Council meets on Tuesday, April 21 via teleconference. Discussion items include:

Financial impacts of COVID-19, amendments related to tenant protection, Just Cause evictions, and Rent due to new state laws, and a resolution calling for release of inmates to protect them from COVID-19. 

Local bookstores feeling the impact of shelter-in-place

With bookstores forced to close their doors, Oakland bookstores are raising money to sta in business. Marcus Books on Martin Luther King Way, “the oldest Black bookstore in the nation,” sells books and other materials by and about Black people. Walden Pond Books on Grand Ave “may not survive this public health emergency” and is also raising funds.

Racial disparities task force

Last week, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced a COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force. The purpose, according to a press release, is to immediately address how COVID-19 impacting people of color and to pass legislation to eliminate health inequities.

The four co-chairs of the task force are: Mayor Schaaf, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and Dr. Tony Iton, senior vice president, of the California Endowment and former director of the Alameda County Publci Health Department. Other members include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Supervisor Keith Carson, and Jane Garcia, CEO of La Clinica de la Raza. 

Public health advocates and journalists have raised concerns about possible racial disparities in the Bay Area and called for the local health department to provide city-level and racial data in testing, treatment, and death.


Every Monday and Thursday, Rasheed Shabazz and Momo Chang produce the Oakland ‘Rona Roundup, COVID-19 related stories impacting the Town.

About Rasheed Shabazz

Rasheed Shabazz is a multimedia storyteller, urban planning historian, and youth development professional based in the Bay Area. He coordinates Oakland Voices and is currently in the Masters of City and Regional Planning program at UC Berkeley.  View all posts by Rasheed Shabazz →

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