Category Archives: Benicia

Benicia’s Earl Miller a COVID victim: ‘I wanted to die’

COVID victim Earl Miller: ‘I wanted to die’

High-profile Benician hit hard

Earl Miller, pre-COVID. The Benician living part-time in Mexico and his wife, Jane, have been hit hard by the virus. (Courtesy photo)

Vallejo Times Herald, by Richard Freedman, December 31, 2020

In his 70 years, Earl Miller survived the repercussions of drug addiction, heart attacks, a stroke, knee replacement, and gastrointestinal surgery.

Never, he said, he did want to die more than from the COVID-19 misery he’s suffered since around Christmas along with his wife, Jane.

“I thought we were done for,” Miller said. “We had it so bad the first week, I thought death would be a better alternative. It’s no joke. My lungs felt like they were going to explode. My eyesight is all messed up. I hurt all over; every bone in my body. I am dizzy and can’t stand up and I wake up completely drenched from a fever. My head felt like it was going to explode. Then there’s the diarrhea, alternating between feeling like throwing up.”

Earl and Jane Miller get house calls from a doctor wearing haz-mat gear at their home in San Pancho, Mexico. (Courtesy photo)

“Every minute,” Miller continued, “I thought I was going to die.”

A colorful longtime Benician spending December at their second home in San Pancho, Mexico, Miller realized all was not well when he developed a “metallic tasting mouth,” accompanied by headaches, runny nose and respiratory distress.

COVID-19 symptoms hit Miller’s wife first. It was Christmas when she got tested “so we had to wait an extra day” for the results, Earl said.

“They told Jane she was positive. Two days later, I came down with exactly the same symptoms. I knew I had it,” said Miller, never one to doubt the seriousness of the virus.

“I did everything not to get it, but we let our guard down for one moment,” Miller said. “For five months, I was so safe. I’ve been scared of this thing since day one. With all my diseases, I thought for sure if I got it I would die and that would be the end of it.”

Unfortunately, the Millers had a visitor from the U.S. for four days.

“On the last day here, he felt sick and went home,” Earl said. “He called and said he tested positive. The next day, Jane came down with it and couldn’t get out of bed. As I said, you want to die. It came on so fast. It’s just the worst.”

Miller compared it to getting the worst possible flu “when everything hurts. Now multiply that times 20 with a headache that’s 10 times worse than a migraine.”

Thanks to intravenous liquids, sleeping pills, pain pills, and breathing inhalers, Miller believed Wednesday that “we are on the mend.”

On Thursday, Miller thought otherwise.

“We took a turn for the worse Wednesday night,” he said on a FaceTime call Thursday morning. “We are still going through it, as it seems we both woke up a few steps backwards this morning.”

During the call from San Pancho, Miller said his chest still hurt and he gets dizzy. That wasn’t the case Wednesday.

“I felt so good, I went swimming,” he said. “My doctor told me, ‘You can’t swim. Water will get into your lungs and you’ll die.’ So I stopped swimming. We can’t even take a shower.”

Miller said his wife felt “75 to 85 percent” better over the weekend but “took a nose dive” and was still asleep early afternoon Thursday.

Jane and Earl Miller contracted COVID-19 via a visitor from the United States to their home in San Pancho, Mexico. (Courtesy photo)

Miller was last in the Bay Area four months ago, having his knee replaced at Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center.

“Now my knee is the only part of my body not hurting,” Miller said, managing to laugh.

One shining light through the seemingly endless agony: A nurse who Miller called “my angel.”

“It turns out she was a missionary who works with poor Indians in the mountains and has spent the last 11 years giving her time learning to be a nurse and doctor so she can help them,” Miller said. “That’s my new cause. When this is over, I’m going to help her any way I can.”

Miller, founder of the defunct Reach Out Benicia drug counseling nonprofit for youth, returns a handful of times a year to Solano County to visit friends and pursue real estate sales. He and his wife built tourist-based “Roberto’s Bungalows” in San Pancho in 2011. The town of 1,500 is 33 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. They sold the property and recently built a new inn a few miles up the road.

“Here we are in paradise and we can’t enjoy it,” Miller said, acknowledging a lesson in gratitude.

“More than 350,000 died from this, thousands are suffering, and I’m worried about my pool not being 90 degrees,” he said.

Miller said he would get vaccinated as soon as possible if he could have prevented this “feeling that you want to die.”

Those who refuse to wear masks or take other COVID-19 precautions?

“I think it’s a pity. I really do. I think it’s selfish,” Miller said. “I think that somewhere along the lines something went wrong with their mental capacity to love others. It’s about us not spreading and killing someone’s mother, father, grandmother, grandfather or best friend.  It’s about saving people’s lives.”

Though Miller can’t celebrate the New Year on the beach with local friends and other “gringos,” he said he’ll be happy to just survive.

“It’s been a rough year,” he said. “I think in 2021 we’ve got to step back and stop hating each other and start loving and caring for each other. I think there’s still time to save lives.”

Again, said Miller, “wear a mask. It doesn’t hurt. Get a funny one. Get one that looks like me.”

Raley’s Benicia under investigation for COVID-19 violations

By Roger Straw, December 30, 2020
Raley’s in Benicia, California

Raley’s facebook page (below) confirms a report that is circulating on social media and among Benicia residents that a serious violation of State and local COVID-19 orders occurred at Raley’s recently.

The images on Raley’s facebook page document a December 24 holiday party of more than two dozen employees, gathered at first in close proximity masked, and then sitting without masks at tables to eat.  [Images preserved here on Google Drive]

City of Benicia officials confirm that they learned of the alleged violation from a private posting on social media, and notified Solano County Health Department.  The Health Department had not been aware, and has initiated an investigation.

The City of Benicia plans to issue a public statement once the allegations are substantiated.  Meanwhile, no hard facts or data has been gathered as to Raley’s employees testing positive, and if so, what exposure and potential spread would require quarantining.  City staff has reached out to Raley’s management for a response.

Stay tuned for more information.  Meanwhile, you might want to think about taking extra precautions if and when you choose to shop at Raley’s.


Raley’s Benicia held a large group indoors gathering on Dec. 24, no social distancing, food that required no masks while…

Posted by Benicia Independent on Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Solano County sets single-day record for new positive COVID-19 cases, 486 reported ill today

By Roger Straw, December 24, 2020  [Sources: see below.]

Thursday, December 24: 486 new cases overnight, no new deaths.  Since Feb: 17,330 cases, more than 725 hospitalized, 95 deaths.Compare previous report, Wednesday, Dec. 23:Summary

    • Solano County reported 486 (!!) new cases overnight, A NEW SINGLE-DAY RECORD INCREASE IN POSITIVE CASESIn just the last 14 days, Solano has seen an increase of 4,764 new cases.  We’re averaging 340 (!!) new cases every day! (source: Total of 17,330 cases since the outbreak started.
    • Deaths – No new deaths reported today, a total of 95 Solano deaths since the pandemic began.
    • Active casesSolano reported 135 more active cases today for a total of 1,555 active casesSolano’s average number of Active Cases during October was 284, average in November was 650 – and TODAY we are at 1,555!  Is the County equipped to contact trace so many infected persons?  Who knows?  To my knowledge, Solano has offered no reports on contact tracing.
    • Hospitalizations – CAUTION ON SOLANO HEALTH DEPARTMENT REPORTING: According to Solano Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas, the County “occasionally” updates Age Group hospitalizations retroactively, adding substantial numbers.  Thus, many hospitalizations are never reported as CURRENTLY hospitalized.  Today, Solano reported 4 fewer CURRENTLY hospitalized persons, total of 118.  And among the age groups, the County reported no change in hospitalization numbers, for a continuing total of 728 persons hospitalized since the outbreak began.  [For the numbers used in my manual calculation of total hospitalizations, see age group stats belowFor COVID19-CA.GOV numbers, see BenIndy page, COVID-19 Hospitalizations Daily Update for Solano County.]
    • ICU Beds – Solano County reported only 21% available today, up from 15% yesterday, still in the YELLOW DANGER ZONECOVID19-CA.GOV reported today that Solano hospitals had 12 available ICU beds as of yesterday, December 23(For COVID19-CA.GOV info see BenIndy page, COVID-19 Hospitalizations Daily Update for Solano County, and for REGIONAL data see COVID-19 ICU Bed Availability by REGION.)
    • Testing – The County report on COVID-19 testing today showed “UNAVAILABLE.”  As of yesterday, Solano had tested a total of 159,358 unduplicated residents since the outbreak began.  35.6% of Solano County’s 447,643 residents (2019) have been tested.

Solano County reported our 7-day average positive test rate today at 20.9%, up from yesterday’s 18.6%, far and away over the State’s purple tier threshold of 8%Average percent positive test rates are among the best metrics for measuring community spread of the virus.  The much lower and more stable California 7-day average test rate has also been on an alarming rise lately, down from yesterday’s 12.6% to 12.1% today(Note that Solano County displays past weeks and months in a 7-day test positivity line graph which also shows daily results.  However, the chart does not display an accurate number of cases for the most recent days, as there is a lag time in receiving test results.  The 7-day curve therefore also lags behind due to unknown recent test results.) 

By Age Group – Continuing the post-Thanksgiving surge, especially in age groups 18-49 and 50-64 years
  • Youth 17 and under – 42 new cases today, total of 1,931 cases, representing 11.2% of the 17,330 total cases.  No new hospitalizations reported today among this age group, total of 17 since the outbreak began.  Thankfully, no deaths have ever been reported in Solano County in this age groupBut cases among Solano youth rose steadily over the summer, from 5.6% of total cases on June 8 to 11% on August 31 and has plateaued at over 11% since September 30.  Youth are 22% of Solano’s general population, so this 11.x% may seem low.  The significance is this: youth are SERIOUSLY NOT IMMUNE (!) – in fact at least 14 of our youth have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.
  • Persons 18-49 years of age – 237 (!!) new cases today, total of 9,945 cases. This age group is 41% of the population in Solano, but represents nearly 60% of the total cases, by far the highest percentage of all age groups.  The County reported no new hospitalizations among persons in this age group today.  A total of 233 are reported to have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.  Solano recorded no new deaths in this young group today, total of 7 deaths.  Some in this group are surely at high risk, as many are providing essential services among us, and some may be ignoring public health orders.  I expect this group is a major factor in the spread of the virus.
  • Persons 50-64 years of age – 142 (!!) new cases today, total of 3,552 cases.  This age group represents just over 20% of the 17,330 total cases.  The County reported no new hospitalizations among persons in this age group today.  A total of 196 are reported to have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.  No new deaths in this age group today, a total of 16 deaths.
  • Persons 65 years or older – 65 (!) new cases today, total of 1,828, representing 10.9% of Solano’s 17,330 total cases.  The County reported no new hospitalizations among persons in this age group today.  A total of 282 have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.  No new deaths were reported in this age group today.  A total of 72 of our elders have died of COVID, accounting for 76% of Solano’s 95 total deaths.
City Data
  • Benicia added 9 new cases today, total of 469 cases since the outbreak began. 
  • Dixon added 19 new cases today, total of 1138 cases.
  • Fairfield added 91 (!) new cases today, total of 4,957 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 4 new cases today, total of 143 cases.
  • Suisun City added 27 new cases today, total of 1,207 cases.
  • Vacaville added 265 (!!!) new cases today, total of 4,185 cases.  Something is happening in Vacaville – stay tuned!
  • Vallejo added 71 new cases today, total of 5,170 cases.
  • Unincorporated areas remained steady today, total of 61 cases.
Race / Ethnicity

The County report on race / ethnicity includes case numbers, hospitalizations, deaths and Solano population statistics.  This information is discouragingly similar to national reports that indicate significantly worse outcomes among black and brown Americans.  Note that all of this data surely undercounts Latinx Americans, as there is a large group of “Multirace / Others” which likely is composed mostly of Latinx members of our communities.

  • Asian Americans are 14% of Solano’s population, and account for 10% of cases, 12% of hospitalizations, and 18% of deaths.
  • Black Americans are 14% of Solano’s population, and account for 11% of cases, but 16% of hospitalizations, and 21% of deaths.
  • Latinx Americans are 26% of Solano’s population, but account for 18% of cases, 25% of hospitalizations, and 17% of deaths.
  • White Americans are 39% of the population in Solano County, but only account for 28% of cases, 29% of hospitalizations and 32% of deaths.


The County’s Coronavirus Dashboard is full of much more information, too extensive to cover here on a daily basis.  The Benicia Independent will continue to summarize daily and highlight significant portions.  For more, check out the Dashboard at

Source: Solano County Coronavirus Dashboard (posted on the County website late today, around 8pm).  For a complete archive of County updates, see my Excel ARCHIVEALSO see important daily updates from the state of California at COVID19.CA.GOV, embedded here on the BenIndy at Cases and Deaths AND Hospitalizations AND ICU Beds by REGION.

Latest on Sacramento trial of Benicia man accused of being NorCal Rapist

‘NorCal Rapist’ Roy Charles Waller – trial continues with Sacramento victims testifying

KCRA3 Sacramento, By Vicki Gonzalez, November 2, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —The third week of the “NorCal Rapist” trial began with Sacramento victims testifying on Monday.

Roy Charles Waller, 60, faces 46 counts — including rape and kidnapping — for crimes committed between 1991 and 2006.

The charges involve nine women across six counties — Sonoma, Contra Costa, Solano, Butte, Yolo and Sacramento.

[Warning: The testimony may be too graphic for some.]

Monday included testimony from a former UC Davis Medical Center nurse practitioner who conducted a sexual assault exam on the Davis survivor in 2000. The then 21-year-old referred to as “C. Doe” was admitted to the emergency room with pieces of duct tape on her ankles and duct tape residue on her mouth.

However, the majority of trial Monday focused on two roommates raped in Natomas in 2006 — referred to as “Y. Doe” and “K. Doe.”

“Y. Doe” began her testimony by recalling that she came home late at night and saw an unknown SUV parked in the garage next her roommate’s vehicle. When she entered the home, the suspect jumped at her and pushed her to the bedroom at gunpoint.

“’Don’t do anything stupid. I just want some money,’” Y. Doe testified. “I was really, really scared for my life.”

When she entered the bedroom, K. Doe was lying face down on the bed covered with a towel. She was duct-tapped on her eyes, mouth, wrist and ankles.

“Really afraid of him, yes,” Y. Doe testified. “I don’t want to piss him off. I just want him to take the money and go.”

Y. Doe was bound as well and carried to the closet in the bathroom, where she testified the suspect began sexually assaulting her.

“He told me he had a gun and his car was stolen. He had nothing to lose,” she testified. “I feel so violated and so scared for my life.”

Y. Doe said both she and her roommate eventually laid side-by-side on the bed and the suspect raped both of them repeatedly, going back and forth between them and the living room where he looked for items to potentially steal.

“I didn’t even want to cry because I didn’t want him to know I was suffering and get him excited,” Y. Doe testified. “At one point, he kissed my mouth over the duct tape.”

He washed both women off in separate bathtubs before putting them back on the bed and leaving.

“At one point, he mentioned, ‘Don’t call the police,’” Y. Doe testified. “He said he has been watching me for a while.”

When she broke free, she found $200, her driver’s license and ATM card stolen, as well as a picture of herself in her wallet missing. Y. Doe also believes the suspect stole her camera and took photos of her naked before leaving.

Waller, a former UC Berkeley employee living in Benicia, was arrested in September 2018. Investigators credit advancements in DNA genealogy that also led to the arrest and conviction of Joseph DeAngelo, known as the “Golden State Killer.”

Prosecutors said DNA from a drinking straw connected Waller to eight of the women. The ninth came from a surveillance photo allegedly showing Waller using the woman’s ATM card.

Prosecutors argue the assaults had a similar modus operandi. The women were tied to the bed with their eyes taped shut. The assaults would take place over the course of hours, and the suspect would caress, kiss and cuddle the bound women. He would also steal valuables, like jewelry or an ATM card, before leaving.

Waller pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces life in prison. The trial began Oct. 19 and is scheduled to last through December.

*** If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or you can chat online here. ***