Category Archives: Mandatory face coverings

City of Benicia now requires vaccination (or weekly tests & masking) of all City staff

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: City of Benicia This Week

Message from the City Manager, Erik Upson
October 11, 2021

Hello Everyone,

City of Benicia Personnel Policy #44 will take effect today. This policy requires vaccination of City staff. Those not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly and wear a mask while indoors at City facilities as well as following all applicable State, County and Local guidelines regarding the wearing of masks.

We did not step into this lightly, but felt it was needed to help protect the safety of our staff and our community. I know some will feel this policy does not go far enough. And some will feel it is a governmental overreach. As always, we are trying to do our very best to balance very real public health concerns with the very real concerns about personal freedoms. Bottom line is we want to do what is best for our community and our staff in this difficult and ever-changing pandemic response.

I want to take a moment to thank our labor groups and their representatives as well as Kim Imboden, our Human Resources Manager, and Fire Chief Josh Chadwick for their work on this. From the very beginning our labor representatives took a positive, thoughtful, and collaborative approach to this very delicate issue.

We continue to look for ways to advance the health of our community. We are currently working with the County in hopes that we will be at the forefront of providing booster shots as those become necessary and more widely available. Additionally, it is our hope when the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, we will be able to partner with the County and the School District to help provide those shots at a local clinic. Finally, the Fire Chief is working with the County in hopes of providing drive-through flu clinics here in Benicia later this year.

On a very positive note, I would like to point out that the Benicia Dog Festival will be happening on Sunday, October 17 at the First Street Green. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. This festival has been a long time in the works, and I want to give thanks to the event’s founder Gaul Culley for her patience, thoughtfulness, and, yes, stubbornness, as she worked to make this event happen. Benicia is a very dog-friendly community, and this event will be a fantastic opportunity to get out and connect. Please see their website for more information (

Thank you for your interest in the City of Benicia This Week!

Erik Upson
City Manager

SF Chronicle: Eyes on Solano County’s COVID rates

The Chronicle has published two excellent reviews this week contrasting Solano County with our Bay Area neighbors.  The first  below profiles Solano with stats and detailed interviews with  Solano leaders and residents.

In Solano County, the Bay Area’s COVID outlier, masks are anything but universal

SF Chronicle, by Kellie Hwang, Danielle Echeverria, Sep. 19, 2021
A man walks along Main Street in Vacaville. Solano County, has had the Bay Area's poorest record on coronavirus cases and vaccinations
A man walks along Main Street in Vacaville. Solano County, has had the Bay Area’s poorest record on coronavirus cases and vaccinations [Photos by Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle]
Paulie Spacco believes anyone infected with the coronavirus should just “let the body do its thing” and build antibodies, even though an 18-month pandemic and the deaths of 1 in 500 Americans point to the dangers of following such a strategy.

Spacco, a Vacaville resident and small-business owner in his 60s, and his friend Gregorio Serrao, in his 70s, both say they have no intention of getting vaccinated and oppose restricting people’s activities to try to control the spread of COVID-19. Over sandwiches recently at La Borgata Italian Deli on Vacaville’s Main Street, the two dismissed evidence proving that masks work to help block transmission of virus-laden droplets.

“At this point, if you get sick, that’s on you,” Serrao said. And it’s just inevitable, they agreed, that “you’re going to lose some people.”

Their views, which are at odds with national health advice about the coronavirus, are not hard to find in Solano County, a Bay Area outlier when it comes to the pandemic almost from the start.

Paulie Spacco (left) and Gregorio Serrao stop in La Borgata Deli in Vacaville. Both are opposed to vaccines and preventive measures such as masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Paulie Spacco (left) and Gregorio Serrao stop in La Borgata Deli in Vacaville. Both are opposed to vaccines and preventive measures such as masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.  Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

The inland expanse dotted with suburbs and medium-size cities is the least vaccinated of the Bay Area’s nine counties. Just 54% of its 450,000 residents are fully vaccinated, compared with 67% in Napa and Sonoma, the counties with the next-lowest rate. It has a high daily infection rate — currently 18.6 cases per 100,000 people, the highest of any Bay Area county except Napa according to state data — and a hospitalization rate two to three times higher than that of other local counties.

And while the county’s case numbers, like those throughout the Bay Area, have shown improvement lately, the approach of local leaders — who have been less willing to restrict residents’ activities and impose mandates — has consistently set Solano apart.

It is the only Bay Area county that doesn’t require universal masking in indoor public settings, although two of its cities — Vallejo and Benicia — have imposed mandates. Solano lagged behind several other Bay Area counties in imposing stay-home orders last year, waiting until the state required it. Tuesday, Solano supervisors voted down a proposal requiring that county employees be vaccinated, saying it should be a personal choice.

Currently only unvaccinated people are required to wear masks in indoor public settings in Solano County, in line with state policies.

Many residents and officials say they want the county to act more aggressively. Supervisor Monica Brown, for instance, whose district covers Benicia and part of Vallejo, supports a broader mask mandate.

“Our health care workers are still being inundated with COVID-19 cases,” she said at a contentious board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday, noting that it’s impossible to know whether a maskless person is vaccinated.

A woman walks by outdoor seating in a plaza along Main Street in Vacaville, Calif., on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Solano County, has had the Bay Area's poorest record on coronavirus cases and vaccinations
A woman walks by outdoor seating in a plaza along Main Street in Vacaville, Calif., on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Solano County, has had the Bay Area’s poorest record on coronavirus cases and vaccinationsCarlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

Supervisor Mitch Mashburn said that with young children and immunocompromised people in his house, he wears a mask to be safe. Still, he doesn’t think it’s the role of the board to force people to be vaccinated or mask up.

Solano Supervisor Monica Brown – COVID news and the Board’s failure to mandate masks and vaccines

[Editor: I commend our District 2 Solano County Supervisor, Monica Brown, and I highly recommend her latest advisory on COVID-19, below.  To subscribe to her weekly newsletter, click here.  – R.S.]

Solano County Header

Hello Benicia, Fairfield, and Vallejo,

Welcome to my most recent update. I can be reached at


We are still in a pandemic. Our hospitals are overwhelmed, our residents are catching this virus, and we are seeing consumers pull back on activities because of the continuing pandemic. It is devastating to see the impacts on our community.

However, as I have said many times and as we have heard from many people, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. According to the most recent data, 77.5% of those in Solano County testing positive for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Data has also shown that those who are vaccinated are much less likely to have symptoms, even less likely to have a severe illness, and to have a statistically small chance of dying. You have a 17x higher chance of being hospitalized if you are unvaccinated. Vaccines work and they are the key to beating this pandemic.

I plead with our entire community to get vaccinated. This is the easiest and most effective way to keep all of us safe. It is also protecting our most vulnerable residents, children under 12 and those who are immunocompromised, from the disease. Please get vaccinated if you have not already. If you have been vaccinated, please encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated. We are all in this together and we will only success together.

Solano County has many opportunities for you to get vaccinated. The county is offering all three COVID-19 vaccinations at the Solano Mall (1350 Travis Blvd in Fairfield on the second floor across from the Applebee’s) and rapid COVID-19 testing every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10am-7pm. No appointment is necessary, but you may make an appointment by calling 707-784-8655.

At this past Tuesday’s Board meeting, the subject of a mask mandate and a vaccine mandate was brought forward. While I wanted both, there was not enough support on the Board for either. The Board did mandate that if a local jurisdiction in the county has a mask mandate, then any county buildings in that jurisdiction must follow it. The two jurisdictions in Solano County with mask mandates are Benicia and Vallejo. I sent a letter to the Governor asking him to implement a statewide mask mandate. Please wear your masks. This pandemic is not over.

I want to thank Dr. Bonnie Hamilton from the Napa Solano Medical Society for speaking in support of a mask mandate. The Napa Solano Medical Society represents over 1,200 physicians in the Napa Solano area. I also want to thank Dr. Seth Kaufman, who is the chief medical officer for NorthBay Healthcare, for speaking in support of a mask mandate. Their testimony, along with the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, make it abundantly clear that the science supports mandating masks.

The California Department of Public Health is looking for partner organizations to set up on-site rapid testing for employees, guests and/or community members. The state will provide test kits, training, and other support. This is free to organizations. For more information, please contact

Monica Brown, Solano County Supervisor, District 2
Monica Brown,
Solano County Supervisor, District 2

First elected in 2016, Monica represents District 2 on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. District 2 encompasses the city of Benicia, the portion of Vallejo south of Georgia Street, Mare Island, Cordelia, Green Valley and a portion of Fairfield.

Vacaville waking up to COVID threat – Council votes mask mandate for City buildings and events

Vacaville Council requires masks for Vacaville city buildings, some outdoors activities

Fairfield Daily Republic, By Susan Hiland, September 17, 2021

VACAVILLE — City Council members voted Tuesday to require face masks indoors at city buildings and during certain activities as the delta variant continues its surge.

Council members debated the proposed directive of the use of face coverings inside all city facilities and while participating in outdoor programs and events conducted by the city when social distancing is not possible.

“I think people have the right to make the decision that is best for their family, whether to put something in your body or wear masks,” Councilman Roy Stockton said. “This to me feels like tyranny.”

“This is not about tyranny,” Councilman Michael Silva said. “This is about how to keep staff safe and showing that we genuinely are concerned for keeping staff safe.”

The city government has experienced firsthand the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

A total of 29 city employees tested positive for Covid-19 in August and numerous others were forced to miss work for testing and quarantine due to workplace exposures, the city reports. Several of the positive cases were in vaccinated employees.

Solano County Public Health reported 773 active Covid-19 cases in the county as of Wednesday with 92 people hospitalized and the availability of staffed ICU beds at 23%.

Roy Stockton Michael Silva
“Part of this is looking at this as a business,” Vice Mayor Nolan Sullivan said. “We have an outbreak in the city and it is affecting how business is working. I am for anything that helps keep things moving.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended July 27 that face coverings be worn in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, in areas of substantial or high Covid-19 transmission. The California Department of Public Health has recommended that fully vaccinated people wear face coverings in indoor public settings statewide.

Vacaville has the lowest vaccinate among its residents 12 and older – 68.3% – among the seven Solano County cities.

The number of reported cases is going down from the surge seen in August. But numbers are still high with some 11,399 cases in Vacaville. The number of deaths is 280 with 16 recently added during the current surge.

The CDC has released data that indicates people who are unvaccinated who contract Covid-19 are 11 times more likely to die than are those who are vaccinated.

The face-covering mandate will be effective until repealed by either the city manager or the City Council.