California COVID-19 cases at all time high; Oakland nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder dies of COVID-19

On Tuesday, California recorded the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic: 12,807 people.

For Oakland and Alameda County, that means we continue to be on the state’s watchlist for counties that need to be monitored. The only Bay Area county right now not on the watchlist is San Mateo County.

Oakland has 3,763 cases now.

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.

Beloved Oakland Nurse Dies of COVID-19

Longtime nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder died of COVID-19 on July 17. She was 59 and worked at Sutter Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland.

According to the SF Chronicle article, it does not seem like nurses are tested regularly, and that it only “prioritizes testing symptomatic health care workers, the hospital spokeswoman said, which is similar to other local medical facilities.”

This puts those caring for COVID-19 patients, such as Paiste-Ponder, at risk. Other nurses said that nurses have gone to test themselves elsewhere.

According to the California Nurses Association, of which Paiste-Ponder was a member for 25 years, nurses at this hospital treated both COVID-19 positive and non-COVID patients, using the same PPE. Paiste-Ponder’s colleague Toya Randle, who has also tested positive, noted that:

“…Nurses were sometimes assigned five patients at once, including positive and non-positive patients. They would then have to change into and out of the same personal protective equipment (PPE) in one shift, as they alternated between patients, not knowing whether they were exposed along the way.”

About Momo Chang

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Alumni Coordinator. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). View all posts by Momo Chang →

One Comment

  1. Gina

    Janine was my cousin. This is a shame. These nurses put their lives in the line because they love taking care of people and love what they do. The least they can get in return is proper PPE. I dont understand our nurses, doctors, custodian and all of the other workers in the hospitals are high risk workers. If they all get sick then what? This is so unfair. Janine was on the battlefield with an enemy she could not see. But, as small as she was she fought one of the biggest enemies known to mankind. She fought with no weapons only her heart, love and her skills as a nurse. She is a hero. She should have been protected more and something has to be done to protect the medical teams that are helping Covid patients.

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