Category Archives: #Masks4All

ALERT – On December 7, the Benicia City Council will make a potentially life-or-death decision

With Winter coming and the Omicron variant looming, the City Council’s Dec. 7 mask mandate vote is crucial

Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

On Dec. 7, the City Council will make a potentially life-or-death decision: whether to extend Benicia’s indoor mask mandate. If it fails to do so, the mandate will end that evening.

Such a failure will be a de facto vote for Covid and against public health. Here are a few of the many reasons why:

  1. The omicron variant is here. More specifically, the first case of this new, potentially dangerous Covid variant has been detected in San Francisco, in a vaccinated individual. https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/First-U-S-omicron-case-found-in-San-Francisco-16666493.php  The World Health Organization warns that it “poses a ‘very high’ global risk because of the possibility that it spreads more easily and might resist vaccines and immunity in people who were infected with previous strains.” https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/11/29/1059723751/omicron-variant-latest-high-risk-world-health-organization  I don’t want to sound too alarmist, since we will not know until later this month (at the earliest) whether omicron is a false alarm or a five-alarm fire. But that’s all the more reason to be cautious and maintain the mandate.
  2. Winter is coming. It brings the likelihood of a surge in Covid cases and resulting deaths due to more people being indoors and at holiday gatherings. We’ve seen last winter’s Covid wave and other waves caused or exacerbated by relaxing precautions prematurely, even after vaccines were made available. The Council must learn from experience and not make that mistake. And again, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
  3. The overwhelming consensus among scientific studies and experts is that face masks help protect against Covid, even for the vaccinated. Further information and links to the research can be found at The Benicia Independent blog, including its reposting of the excellent letter Dr. Richard Fleming of Benicia sent to the Council last month (http://beniciaindependent.com/open-letter-to-benicia-city-council-dr-richard-fleming-on-mask-mandate/) and my own letter at that time (http://beniciaindependent.com/10-reasons-to-extend-benicias-face-mask-mandate/). The pro-mask/mandate consensus has been further represented by almost all Bay Area counties’ health officials, the State health department, the CDC, the Napa-Solano Medical Society, thousands of medical and public health authorities and the numerous Benicia-based medical and public health experts who have called in to Council meetings in support of the mandate. The one partial exception to this overwhelming consensus is the Solano Country health officer. But as Dr. Fleming’s letter points out, he has not provided any data in support of his position.

Those wishing to let the Council members know of your opinion on the masks mandate may contact them at:

You can also contact City Clerk Lisa Wolfe, LWolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us, who forwards emails on such matters to the Council and staff.

If interested in participating in the December 7 meeting via Zoom or call-in, the Office of City Manager Eric Upson will have the relevant information, at 707-746-4200 or EUpson@ci.benicia.ca.us.

Stephen Golub

Solano County reverses position: staff and visitors will have to mask up in Vallejo libraries

By Roger Straw, September 15, 2021

In 4-1 decision, Solano County Board of Supervisors recognize primacy of Vallejo indoors mask mandate

Just yesterday, I highlighted Times-Herald reporter Richard Freedman’s story, “Vallejo libraries immune from mask mandates.”

The news then was that Solano County’s lack of strong leadership on masking indoors would prevail over Vallejo’s mandate because the libraries in Vallejo are run by the County.

I invited everyone in Vallejo to come to Benicia libraries, which are not run by Solano County.

But later yesterday morning, our Solano County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to respect local mandates in facilities run by the County.  (The Board would not recognize the importance of masking indoors in the rest of the county – they failed to even bring that issue to a vote.)  But as of today, if you visit or work in any of Vallejo’s Solano offices, including the Superior Court building and the libraries, you are obligated to follow Vallejo’s mask mandate.

>> Download details of the Vallejo Mask Mandate

Residents can feel a bit better about entering County buildings in Vallejo now, but you may want to stay away from County facilities in Fairfield and Vacaville.  And I want you to know that you’re STILL welcome here in Benicia, where ALL public indoors facilities require masks for workers and visitors alike.

Solano Board of Supervisors backs Bela on masks and vaccinations, but gives nod to Benicia and Vallejo mandates

[BenIndy Editor: Note that the Board never even addressed Supervisor Brown’s request for a countywide indoors mask mandate like we established here in Benicia and Vallejo.  Benicia and Vallejo are clearly on our own here in Solano County.  Concerned up-county residents should consider shopping and doing business down here in Benicia/Vallejo.  And Solano employees might want to start looking for a new job!  – R.S.]

Divided board won’t mandate vaccines for Solano employees

Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan speaks while debating mandated vaccines and masks for Solano County employees during a Board of Supervisors meeting at the Government Center in Fairfield, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)
County workers must adhere to mask policies in communities where they work

Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, September 15, 2021

FAIRFIELD — Solano County employees will not be required to get Covid-19 vaccinations, but will have to honor mask requirements in city jurisdictions that have them.

Benicia and Vallejo temporarily require everyone – vaccinated or not – to wear a mask in indoor public places. The state has the same mandate for individuals who are not vaccinated.

Masks are required in all medical facilities, and in schools.

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Benicia Mayor Steve Young was one of 17 individuals who called into the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The county also received more than 100 written correspondences, two-thirds of which opposed the policies. The callers were slightly weighted in the other direction.

Young urged the board to enact its own mask mandate, though that issue was never formally up for consideration.

A county mask mandate for public indoor places was expected to be one of two issues considered by the board, but Supervisor Erin Hannigan, who had raised the mask requirement and the county vaccination mandate, backed off the full mask mandate in favor of requiring that county employees adhere to the rules of other jurisdictions.

The new mandate mostly affects county employees who work at county buildings in Vallejo. The board supported the policy on a 4-1 vote with board Chairman John Vasquez dissenting without comment.

The supervisors voted 2-3, with Vasquez, Supervisor Jim Spering and Supervisor Mitch Mashburn in the majority, to defeat Hannigan’s motion to mandate vaccinations for county employees and contractors. Supervisor Monica Brown supported the action.

“The only way we are going to get out of this pandemic is everyone get vaccinated,” Hannigan said.

Those who argued against the vaccines for county employees, also largely argued against the mask requirement, framing the issues as ones of personal freedoms and choice.

Some took great exception to anyone telling them what they must inject into their bodies. Others were less forceful, and even noted they, too, had been vaccinated, but were in no position to tell others what to do, and strongly believe government should stay out of personal medical decisions.

Corianne Tunstall comments as the Solano County Board of Supervisors debate mandated vaccines and masks for Solano County employees during a Board of Supervisors meeting at the Government Center in Fairfield, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

But Corianne Tunstall, a local hairdresser, said those “personal decisions” do not only affect those individuals, as she is frequently exposed to clients who have not been vaccinated, and who refuse to wear masks even though state law requires them to do so.

She told the board she could not afford to get sick and miss work, and felt it was wrong that others could choose to expose her and she could, in turn, expose her family.

Dr. Seth Kaufman is the chief medical officer for NorthBay Healthcare. (Courtesy photo)

Others who supported the policies included Dr. Seth Kaufman, chief medical officer at NorthBay Healthcare. He called the vaccines and masks critical pieces in the fight against Covid-19.

“We are off the charts on the number of patients we are seeing,” Kaufman said. “Our hospitals are full; our clinics are overflowing with Covid patients.”

The public discussion followed a Covid-19 status update by Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer.

Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County public health officer

He told the board that the county is emerging from the latest Covid surge that started shortly after July 4, and that includes lower number of individuals being hospitalized.

Matyas reiterated his position that a mask policy will be ineffective because the data show transmission is not taking place in public settings, but rather at private social gatherings and at home. He noted that the vast majority of counties that have mask mandates are not seeing their disease rates fall like they should if the policy worked.

However, he also reiterated his position that the best way to defeat Covid-19 is to get vaccinated.

About 64% of the residents 12 or older have been fully vaccinated, while 76% have received at least one shot. That leaves about 135,000 residents who are eligible for vaccines who have not been innoculated, Matyas said.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Friday that indicate people who are unvaccinated who contract Covid-19 are 11 times more likely to die than are those who are vaccinated.

[continued…]

Vallejo (and all Solano County) residents are welcome in Benicia’s library where masks are required

By Roger Straw, September 14, 2021

[UPDATE: County reverses itself – click here…]

Worried about Solano County Library system not requiring masks?  Visit us in Benicia!

Benicia Public Library is locally run and follows Benicia’s indoors mask mandate.

And here’s good news from the Benicia Library websiteVallejo residents are welcome in Benicia’s library.   Solano County, St. Helena, and Dixon cards are valid in Benicia.

Even if you don’t check out a book, it’s a great place to just sit and read a magazine or get on the internet!

Here’s from the Benicia library website about pandemic hours and masks: “The Benicia Public Library has restored regular service hours, and we are excited to welcome you back inside our building. Whether you want to use a computer or plug into our free Wi-Fi, visit an exhibit, borrow materials or just browse our bookcases, we are here for you. Please bring your mask and library card. If you do not have one, they are free.”

The mask requirement applies whether you are vaccinated or not.