Tag Archives: Benicia City Council

Benicia will review mask mandate in 6 weeks – here’s how

Benicia COVID cases have risen to the CDC’s most dangerous “High Transmission level” since August 11 – well over the CDC’s “Substantial Transmission level.”

By Roger Straw, August 27, 2021  [UPDATED – note new information about the requirement of 30 days below substantial transmission level.]

Benicia’s new mask mandate refers to the CDC transmission levels as its standard for reviewing whether to continue the mask mandate.

The mandate will remain in place for 6 weeks, after which Council will review the order (on October 5).  The order will “remain in effect until the City is not in a substantial or high transmission of COVID 19 as defined by the CDC for a thirty-day period.” (From Resolution 21-88, adopted August 24)

The CDC’s formula for calculating level of transmission looks complicated, but it’s actually rather simple.  First, here is the CDC’s complicated presentation.  I’ll simplify after that….

TABLE. CDC core indicators of and thresholds for community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2
Indicator Transmission level
Low Moderate Substantial High
New cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days* 0–9.99 10.00–49.99 50.00–99.99 ≥100.00
Percentage of positive nucleic acid amplification tests in the past 7 days <5.00 5.00–7.99 8.00–9.99 ≥10.00

* Number of new cases in the county (or other administrative level) in the past 7 days divided by the population in the county (or other administrative level) multiplied by 100,000.
 Number of positive tests in the county (or other administrative level) during the past 7 days divided by the total number of tests performed in the county (or other administrative level) during the past 7 days. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/resources/calculating-percent-positivity.html

In the Benicia City Council discussions, only new cases per 100,000 was mentioned as a factor for review (unless I missed something).  Councilmember Tom Campbell did the math on the spot, and indicated that Benicia’s number would be 13 cases (later amended to 14) over the last 7 days.

Simply put, >>based on our population, when the County reports 14 or more new Benicia cases over the last 7 days, the CDC classifies us as having a level of “substantial transmission.”  If we see 28 cases over the last 7 days we are in an area of “high transmission.”  The mask mandate will continue until we have been below 14 new cases per week for at least 30 days.

The bad news… Here is a chart showing Benicia’s 7-day case levels per 100K over the past several weeks.  Clearly, we have been in Substantial or High since mid-July.

Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard – ARCHIVE
Date Total Confirmed Cases, Solano County Δ Total Confirmed Cases, Benicia Δ Cases previous 7 days per 100K  (CDC Substantial: Benicia 14+)
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 33,651 15 1,010 3 8
Thursday, June 17, 2021 33,673 22 1,012 2 9
Friday, June 18, 2021 33,707 34 1,015 3 12
Monday, June 21, 2021 33,762 55 1,017 2 11
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 33,797 35 1,021 4 11
Friday, June 25, 2021 33,846 49 1,025 4 10
Monday, June 28, 2021 33,898 52 1,029 4 12
Wednesday, June 30, 2021 33,973 75 1,029 0 8
Friday, July 2, 2021 34,044 71 1,030 1 5
Tuesday, July 6, 2021 34,149 105 1,038 8 9
Friday, July 9, 2021 34240 91 1,040 2 11
Monday, July 12, 2021 34377 137 1,045 5 15
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 34461 84 1,048 3 10
Friday, July 16, 2021 34630 169 1,056 8 16
Monday, July 19, 2021 34761 131 1,062 6 17
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 34885 124 1,070 8 22
Friday, July 23, 2021 35193 308 1,084 14 28
Monday, July 26, 2021 35482 289 1,092 8 30
Wednesday, July 28, 2021 35703 221 1,102 10 32
Friday, July 30, 2021 36004 301 1,110 8 26
Monday, August 2, 2021 36249 245 1,115 5 23
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 36525 276 1,125 10 23
Friday, August 6, 2021 36848 323 1,132 7 22
Monday, August 9, 2021 37056 208 1,141 9 26
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 37350 294 1,153 12 28
Friday, August 13, 2021 37664 314 1,167 14 35
Monday, August 16, 2021 37914 250 1,177 10 36
Wednesday, August 18, 2021 38294 380 1,187 10 34
Friday, August 20, 2021 38764 470 1,205 18 38
Monday, August 23, 2021 39002 238 1,216 11 39
Wednesday, August 25, 2021 39329 327 1,224 8 37
More CDC Resources:

City of Benicia website posts information on new Face Covering Mandate

From the City of Benicia website, August 25, 2021

Press Release, Resolution and Flyer: City of Benicia Takes Action to Require Face Coverings in Indoor Public Places

  •  Press Release City of Benicia Takes Action to Require Face Coverings in Indoor Public Places
    Benicia, CA (August 25, 2021) — At Tuesday evening’s Benicia City Council meeting, Council Members voted 5-0 in support of a resolution requiring that each person, aged 4 years and over, wear a face covering when in any indoor or enclosed space open to the public within the City of Benicia.  [continued…]
  • Resolution 21-88 Face Coverings
    WHEREAS, California Government Code Section 8630 empowers the City Council to proclaim the existence or threatened existence of a Local Emergency when the City is affected or likely to be affected by a public calamity; and  [continued…]
  • Indoor Mask Requirement Flyer (Click image to download PDF version of the flyer)
    Click image to download PDF version of the flyer

ABC7 TV News: Benicia Council passes mask mandate

Benicia passes indoor mask mandate despite Solano Co. health officer’s recommendation

ABC7 News, August 25, 2021

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) — Anyone aged four and up are now required to wear a mask indoors at public buildings in Benicia. That includes grocery stores, commercial office buildings and restaurants.

City council members approved the mandate yesterday.

Benicia is taking a harder stance than the rest of Solano County — the only Bay Area county without a mask mandate.

Earlier this month, ABC7 News spoke with the Solano County Health Officer who explained why they initially chose not to implement indoor masking.

“The data does not support the need for such a mandate. This disease in our county is very clearly spreading during/through social events, people who are going to parties, barbecues, picnics, campouts,” said Dr. Bela Matyas.

The mandate goes into effect immediately and will be reviewed in six weeks.

See also:

KTVU TV News: Benicia breaks with Solano County, adopts mask mandate

Benicia only city in Solano County with mask mandate

KTVU News, By Debora Villalon, August 25, 2021

BENICIA, Calif. – Benicia has decided to become the only city in Solano County with a mask mandate.

The unanimous vote came Tuesday evening, after four hours of council discussion and public comment.

“It represents community consensus on this issue,” Benicia Mayor Steve Young told KTVU after the meeting. “In the end we all agreed that this was a necessary thing to do.”

He estimates more than 100 people wrote and called in, the overwhelming majority supporting the idea.

The city of 28,000 has an 81 percent vaccination rate but is taking the action due to rising concern about COVID caseloads and the delta variant.

“We have a lot of people who come here from other parts of the county where vaccination is closer to 50 percent,” explained Young. “We’re a beautiful waterfront town to visit so we have to protect our business owners, we can’t assume we’re in a bubble.”

Benicia now aligns with eight other Bay Area counties that require facial coverings in public places, regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate takes effect immediately, and applies to everyone age 4 and older.

The city will review the mandate, along with evolving COVID data, every six weeks.

Benicia’s views did not sway Solano County’s top health official, who participated in the meeting and continues to reject a county-wide order.

“Benicia may feel an association with the Bay Area, but I can assure you Dixon does not, and neither does Vacaville,” declared Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas.

Matyas characterized mask orders as confrontational in neighboring communities.

“Places where there is a much stronger political dislike of mask-wearing and altercations are far more common.”

As for the benefits, Matyas insists casual contact in places like stores and restaurants aren’t fueling the spread.

He blames close social contact, primarily among families.

“The next biggest risk is among people who go to a party and share drinks or play beer bong,” said Matyas, “and close friends who transmit because they hug and kiss, so it’s a spectrum”.

On the streets of Benicia, most people say they would rather err on the side of caution than slide backward.

“We’re a small town and we do have a lot of visitors so it’s okay for us to be independent and make that decision,” said resident Bobbie White.

Some merchants already require masks on their own.

“My customers know the deal before they come in,” said Natasha Curtis, owner of Zeppelin Comics.

Curtis wants to protect children who come in to shop, many too young to be vaccinated.

“Being able to mirror more of the Bay Area in our city policies is a benefit to us,” she added.

Several physicians also voiced support during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Why aren’t we doing everything we can to mitigate the effect of this virus?” demanded Dr. Bonnie Hamilton.

“It’s an easy thing to do, and a lot easier than a ventilator.”

A doctor from a Fairfield hospital also called in.

“It’s under siege, about 33 percent of our patients have COVID, and these are really, really, really sick people, with almost no beds to put them in,” said Dr. James Bronk of the North Bay Medical Center.

Benicia’s mayor said the city felt it had to mandate masks, realizing Solano County was not going to.

“I don’t anticipate problems, I think people are accepting,” said Young, “and even if you go east, look at Yolo County and Sacramento County, they both have mask mandates too.”

See also: