Benicia City Council to decide on city-wide mask mandate at Aug. 24 special meetingBenicia Herald, by Galen Kusic, August 20, 2021
[Reprinted with permission, not available online. Subscribe]
Nearly 81 percent of Benicia’s residents are fully vaccinated, making it the second most vaccinated city in the county, next to Rio Vista. However, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, state and in Solano County, Benicia is not being spared.
Over the past five days, Benicia has recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases, an average of five new cases per day, for a total of 1,187 cases since the pandemic began. And while Benicia has the lowest incidence rate in the county at 4,305 per 100,000 residents, the uptick is alarming.
That is what spurred Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell to bring back a discussion on whether to mandate masks in public indoor spaces within Benicia. The eight other Bay Area counties have already implemented the mandate, while Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas is the lone holdout. In a unanimous vote on Tue. night at the regular City Council meeting, councilmembers voted to bring back the item for a vote on whether to implement the mandate at the Aug. 24 special meeting.
“I implemented a mask mandate within our store a week ago because of the Delta virus strain,” said Councilmember and First St. business owner Christina Strawbridge. “I think it’s the responsible thing to do. I have to protect my staff and I have to protect my customers…I’m hoping we can rise above politics here.”
Matyas has been invited to attend the meeting. It should be a spirited conversation at the least as the majority of residents spoke out in favor of the mandate.
Let Benicia City Council know you support masks in indoors public spaces!
At next Tuesday’s Council meeting, members will hear a request to implement a face covering mandate for the City of Benicia.
The request, submitted by Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell, would establish a “mask mandate for inside commercial businesses.”
City Council rules require a “two-step process” just to agendize discussion of a new item. The August 17 request is the first of the two steps, requesting the item be agendized for consideration at the August 24 meeting. It’s an important first step – Young and Campbell will need three votes just to bring the item to Council on August 24 for discussion and a vote.
- Here’s the August 17 Council Agenda (see Item 21 A. on page 12)
- Here is Young’s and Campbell’s request, handwritten and marked urgent
- And here is the Staff Report (basically just a description of the two-step process)
Your thoughtful input is needed! See
CDC recommends entire Bay Area issue indoor mask mandateSFGate, by Eric Ting, July 27, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its masking guidance Tuesday to advise that all individuals — including vaccinated ones — wear masks indoors in areas with “high” and “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.
According to the CDC’s map, four Bay Area counties — San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano — are classified as areas of “high” transmission and the other five — Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma, Napa — are classified as areas of “substantial” transmission. Masking is currently recommended but not required in every Bay Area county except Solano.
Given how Bay Area counties have previously handled the pandemic, it seems highly likely the region will turn their recommendations into mandates following the updated CDC guidance. A mask mandate is currently in effect in Los Angeles County.
Across California, most counties fall into the “high” or “substantial” categories.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state would issue updated statewide guidance sometime after the CDC guidance was released.
The CDC said the change in guidance is based on new evidence showing that while fully vaccinated individuals are protected against severe disease from the delta variant, they can transmit it to unvaccinated individuals more easily than other strains of the virus.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that when earlier strains of the virus were dominant, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus in their nose and throats and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus. That has changed with the delta variant, where Walensky said the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in infected unvaccinated people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.