As Oakland enters 2021, families, communities, businesses, and local governments are still grappling with the impacts of COVID-19.
Alameda County has 53,714 COVID-19 cases and 656 people have died. Oakland has 17,034 cases. The Town had nearly as many cases in December as the entire summer of 2020.
COVID-19 cases have surged in California, CBS reports, “Experts say a variety of factors combined to wipe out the past efforts, which for much of the year held the virus to manageable levels. Cramped housing, travel and Thanksgiving gatherings contributed to the spread, along with the public’s fatigue amid regulations that closed many schools and businesses and encouraged — or required — an isolated lifestyle.”
Hospitalizations also dramatically increased in December, according to the Alameda County COVID-19 Dashboard.
Despite recent vaccine deliveries, officials urged residents to continue to wear masks and physically distance from others outside our households. The upcoming weeks will reveal if residents heeded officials’ call to “stay home for the holidays, avoid all gatherings, and wear a mask whenever outside your home. A recent update from the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency was hopeful for “widespread vaccination, ongoing prevention and community supports, and the continued success of science. By this time next year, we could very well be together again with our loved ones, our friends, and our colleagues.”
Oakland’s Budget Deficit
Oakland is facing a projected $62 million budget shortfall, possibly Oakland’s worst budget deficit in its history. The budget shortfall is partially a result of losses of revenue due to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders. The pandemic has reduced revenues from hotels and parking lots and garages. City staff also forecasts reductions in retail, car sales, entertainment, and cannabis. At a time when residents’ need for services has increased, revenues have decreased and may limit the Town’s ability to serve Oaklanders.
This significant shortfall puts the City at risk for severe fiscal stress if not addressed.City of Oakland
City staff warns, “This significant shortfall puts the City at risk for severe fiscal stress if not addressed.” Last month, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that “absent immediate and significant expenditure reductions, the General Purpose Fund will be insolvent before the end of the fiscal year” and the City’s reserve will be “completely exhausted.” Proposed cuts include hiring freeze, reduction of overtime and discretionary spending, and 10-20 percent budget cuts. More immediate, “most” temporary and part-time employees would be laid off by this Saturday.
CBS reported proposed cuts to the Fire Department, including the three firehouses.
In case you missed it…
- Oaklandside reports on the increased Santa Rita population and increased COVID-19 cases.
- Oakland Voices’ Brandy Collins on the meaning of the Too Short/E-40 Verzuz battle
Every Monday and Thursday, Rasheed Shabazz and Momo Chang produce the Oakland ‘Rona Roundup, COVID-19 related stories impacting the Town.