Contra Costa County on Tuesday approved fines for individuals and businesses that violate coronavirus health orders, including not wearing a mask.
The county’s board of supervisors passed an urgency ordinance establishing fines for individuals starting at $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $500 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation.
Fines for businesses will start at $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation.
“Some people are just defiant,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis. “We’re trying to get COVID under control and we need people to put on their masks. … We’re not doing it to make money, to try to control people. We’re trying to get control over this disease and get our economy back so we need people to cooperate, put on their mask.”
Contra Costa is the third Bay Area county, and the largest, to pass administrative fines for not following health measures. Napa and Marin counties this month enacted similar fines of up to $5,000 and $10,000, respectively, for businesses.
Officers designated by the director of Health Services, the director of Conservation and Development, and the Sheriff’s Office will enforce the ordinance. The county has received about 200 complaints from residents reporting businesses and individuals that allegedly broke health order rules.
Individuals and businesses that are fined will have the option to appeal the fine within 10 days.
Officials have said they are focusing more on businesses than individuals — such as if businesses are open when health orders require that they shut down, or if business owners are not enforcing mask-wearing among their workers or customers.
Several members of the public called into the virtual meeting to oppose the ordinance, saying it would curtail their individual liberties and that mask-wearing should be voluntary. Supervisors said voluntary compliance and education have not worked to keep infection rates down. Ample research shows that widespread mask-wearing significantly reduces transmission.
Sonoma County and the city of Berkeley are also considering fines for individuals and businesses that do not comply with COVID-19 safety measures.
The expected hostility toward the racial uprising energizing the country has begun.
It was expected by behaviorists and historians because history reveals that when some white people feel threatened by social justice movements, they lash out.
On July 4, the paint had barely dried on the 165-foot long Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez when a man and a woman showed up. They dumped black paint on the yellow letters.
“This is not happening in my town,” the woman said as she spread the paint with a roller.
The hateful display of counterfeit patriotism was video-recorded by bystanders and went viral. On Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton charged Nicole Anderson and David Nelson with a hate crime for defacing the mural.
“It was a peaceful mural, and it was a powerful way, as we’ve seen all over the country, that has been used to think about the importance of Black lives,” Becton told me. “But this one in particular was to think about the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County.”
The county is roughly 43% white, according to census data. Black people make up less than 10% of the county’s population, while Latinos account for about 26% of county residents.
A 2018 report by UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project and the California Housing Partnership studied housing prices and demographic changes in the county from 2000 to 2015 to, among other things, understand trends producing “patterns of segregation and unequal access to high-resource neighborhoods that have defined the county’s racial and economic geography for decades.”
By 2015, the report concluded, “approximately half of low-income Black and Latinx households in the county lived in segregated, high-poverty tracts — approximately triple the rate of low-income Asian and White households, and a steep increase from 2000. Families in these types of neighborhoods typically face greater barriers to economic mobility [and] are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes.”
Once again, systemic racism impacts the health, economic and educational outcomes of people of color.
The permitted Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez was repainted almost immediately, but get this: The very next day, a man was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on people looking at the mural, according to the Police Department.
The retaliation is driven by hate, resentment and fear. Don’t be surprised if it lasts beyond next year’s presidential inauguration.
“These are old means of subordination that white people have used,” said UC Berkeley psychology Professor Dacher Keltner, referring to recent viral incidents, including in Indiana where a Black man was attacked in the woods by white men. “This racism is the fabric of this culture.”
And when protesters rallied earlier this week to support Vauhxx Booker, the Black man who called the Indiana incident an “attempted lynching,” someone drove their car through the crowd, NBC News reported.
“Trump’s gonna f— you,” he said, rising from the table.
He already has.
The president is a grifter who knows hate is currency in America. He stokes white fear and resentment by painting Black Lives Matter protesters as terrorists and thugs. On July 1, he called Black Lives Matter murals symbols of hate. If his lies were your main source of information about people of color, you’d think the white, Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people marching for social justice were a bigger threat to this country than the coronavirus.
“The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism — it’s a lie,” said the man in the Martinez incident, identified as Nelson, who wore a red T-shirt with “four more years” on the front. “Why don’t you guys learn about history?”
Once again, ignorance is a hallmark of white supremacy.
Here’s a brief lesson in American history: Southern white people went to war and sacrificed a generation to preserve the right to buy, sell and trade Black bodies. Then this country built statues to honor human traffickers and to remind Black people that their place — no, our lives — were conditional. After slavery was abolished, the lynchings of Black people became appointment viewing. Black people’s homes, churches and offices were bombed during the civil rights movement.
I could go on, but you get the historical context. In this country, when some white people feel their way of life — their status — is threatened, they respond with violence.
Dana Frank, a research professor of history at UC Santa Cruz, told me that some white resentment turns into anger instead of reflection.
“There’s white people that are well-meaning or confused and clueless, and then there’s the people who are actively crossing over into hostility. The second category is much harder to reach,” she said. “I think it’s very hard for your average white person to see all those forms of institutionalized racism in which they come out ahead. How do you open the door to somebody seeing that without that person feeling threatened?”
By getting white people to talk to white people about systemic racism.
Justin Gomez, who obtained the permit for the street mural, organized the effort a week after flyers calling for white unity were distributed in Martinez. Gomez, who is Filipino and was raised in Walnut Creek, has two children. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and his wife is a health care worker.
He told me he was blown away at how quickly the mural was defaced. Then again, he lives in Contra Costa County.
“We see Confederate flags,” Gomez said. “We see a lot of racist rhetoric in our local social media circles, so we fully knew that that was going to happen and we were ready for it.”
Six gallons of yellow paint were delivered to him Monday.
CONCORD — At least 14 people are dead after COVID-19 infected 75 people at an East Bay skilled nursing facility, according to data published by the state.
The state Department of Public Health’s latest report shows that 14 patients at San Miguel Villa, a post-acute nursing facility in Concord, have died after contracting the virus, which infected 62 residents and 13 workers at the facility.
A call to the facility was not immediately returned, so it’s unclear when the deaths occurred. Data reported to the state by the nursing home within the past 24 hours reveal that there are still 45 patients there infected with COVID-19
The state list on Tuesday showed that at least one healthcare worker at the facility had also died of COVID-19, but a spokesman for the facility, Dan Kramer, said Wednesday that it had been incorrectly reported, and that no workers had died.
The latest outbreak is yet another example of how the disease has ravaged the Bay Area’s most vulnerable population of elders living in congregate settings such as skilled nursing facilities or assisted living centers.
Of the 94% of the state’s 1,223 skilled nursing facilties that reported COVID-19 cases this week, there are currently 2,300 patients and 49 health care workers with confirmed COVID-19 infections, according to the state data. Cumulatively, there have been at least 12,282 confirmed cases across California and 7,655 cases among workers at skilled nursing facilities. And 2,299 patients and 89 health care workers have died from causes related to the deadly virus.
In non-medical residential care facilities — known commonly as assisted living facilities — there have been at least 2,969 confirmed COVID-19 cases among patients and staff, who often provide assistance in feeding, bathing, taking medication and other activities. At least 398 people in those facilities have died from COVID-19.
In Contra Costa County, health services director Anna Roth told the Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday meeting that of the 18 COVID-19 deaths that occurred the past week, 16 were from long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. She did not identify the facilities.
Dr. Sara Levin, a deputy health officer for the county, told the supervisors a county task force had been set up to visit care facilities and help them proactively beef up infection control protocols and provide support in acquiring masks, gloves and other protective equipment, as well as ensuring they had enough staff if workers had fallen ill. The county at the end of May issued a health order to conduct mass testing as a baseline for all long-term care facilities, and then to continue testing staff monthly.
“Where we’ve seen a lot of the spread is when staff in these low-wage jobs are having to work in multiple facilities to ensure their financial stability, without benefits that don’t necessarily allow them to have sick leave,” Levin said. When federal, state and county mandates prevented most visitors, she said, “many residents were staying in facilities, so it was staff members going out to the community … and bringing it in.”
Concord’s San Miguel Villa is a 190-bed nursing facility on San Miguel Road owned and operated by Mark Callaway, Gary Jarvis and Velda Pierce. Pierce and Callaway also own other Contra Costa nursing facilities: Alhambra Convalescent Hospital, Lone Tree Convalescent and Antioch Convalescent Hospital, according to state records.
Since 2017, the facility has had a total of 106 complaints or reported incidents, and state inspectors found a total of 36 “deficiencies.” Some of those deficiencies included problems with infection control.
In an inspection in April 2019, for instance, state inspectors found multiple licensed vocational nurse staff members had not followed proper handwashing protocols.
Last year, the family of an elderly man who died at San Miguel Villa sued the facility, saying its lack of staffing and training led to the man’s suffering. The facility used drugs to sedate him, the lawsuit alleged.
Staffing shortages and lack of adherence to infection control practices have contributed to the outbreaks in nursing homes, experts have said.
“We are really concerned about the lack of oversight in skilled nursing facilities like San Miguel Villa,” said Nicole Howell, executive director of Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda counties. “This underscores the need to improve regulation and oversight — particularly one that specializes in dementia and memory loss.”
The outbreak and death toll at San Miguel Villa is among the largest in East Bay skilled nursing facilities.
East Bay Post-Acute in Castro Valley has had a total of 16 COVID-19-related patient deaths, and 18 patients at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward have died of the virus.
In San Mateo County, Millbrae Skilled Care has had 14 COVID-related deaths, and more than 100 cumulative infections among patients and 31 cases among health care workers there. But the state data shows there are no infections reported in the last 24 hours at that facility.
In Santa Clara County, 12 patients of Canyon Springs Post-Acute nursing facility in San Jose have died of COVID-19, and at one point 106 patients and staff were infected with the virus. There were no current cases within the last 24 hours, according to the state data.
Update: An earlier version of this story reported at least 15 people had died of COVID-19 at San Miguel Villa. A spokesperson confirmed the state data incorrectly reported that a healthcareworker had died.