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.
Seems vaccinated staff and visitors are granted asylum from masking at the John F. Kennedy and Springstowne libraries in Vallejo.
Both facilities are exempt from the Vallejo City Council’s Sept. 7 “mask mandate” for all public buildings, vaccinated or not, because they are “subject to the county and library policies, procedures, rules and regulations that govern all library branches,” according to Suzanne Olawski, director of Library Services in Fairfield.
In Solano County, only Vallejo and Benicia have mask mandates in place.
Vallejo Councilmember Katy Miessner and Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan said they received complaints from citizens visiting the local libraries after noticing some staff members going maskless.
Hannigan said that she “received an email from a resident citing librarians were not wearing masks, some were. When asked why they weren’t masked a librarian stated that the county doesn’t have a mask mandate and since they were in a county facility they believe they are exempt from the Vallejo mask mandate.”
Hannigan said she forwarded the email to Olawski.
“The City (Vallejo) owns the buildings and contracts with the County for library services,” Olawski said late Friday. “Per the operating agreement, the libraries operate as branches of the Solano County Library.”
A sign posted at the JFK Library entry effective June 15 states that “by entering this facility without a face covering you are self-attesting that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” For individuals who are unvaccinated, there is a list of reasons they could still be exempt from masking.
Information counter staffers at both Vallejo libraries sit behind framed Plexiglas shields. At JFK, most staffers still wore masks. Most of the staffers at Springstowne didn’t.
“If an employee is fully vaccinated, it is optional for them to wear a mask at work,” Olawski said. “However, any staff member not vaccinated is required to wear a mask at work. Face coverings are available to any employee that requests one, regardless of their vaccination status.”
Olawski added that “the county’s practice at this time is masks are not required for people over the age of 12 if they are vaccinated.”
Anyone over the age of 12 not wearing a mask in the library “is self-attesting to being vaccinated,” Olawski continued. “however, there are individuals who may be exempt from wearing a face covering because of medical or physical impairment issues.”
Not good enough, Miessner said, already “deeply disappointed that Solano County Public Health decided the County didn’t need an indoor mask mandate, given the delta variant causing increases to Vallejo’s infection rates and hospitalizations. So I was furious when I heard the county decided they can disregard Vallejo’s mask mandate in Vallejo libraries.”
The library, continued Miessner, “is a place where children tend to gather and children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated depend on adults who are, and who wear masks. Obviously, Vallejo children can’t depend on Solano County Public Health. But I was grateful that Vallejo had the authority to act on our own.”
If the policy was up to Hannigan, “all county employees working inside buildings in any city with a mask mandate should be masked,” adding that President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for public agencies and vaccine recommendation for private employers “is the right direction.”
“Implementing vaccine mandates for employees and contractors is the only way we will get closer to ending this pandemic and reduce the opportunity for new variants,” Hannigan said.
Vallejo Councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga said she “agrees that public and private buildings, offices and businesses should follow the mask mandate passed by the Vallejo City Council last week. This mask mandate is for the health and safety of our residents and everyone.”
Verder-Aliga said masks are mandated where she works at the Solano County Behavior Health Clinics in Vallejo and Fairfield and also mandated at the county courthouse in Fairfield where she served on jury duty.
The Vallejo City Council said it will re-visit the mask mandate in mid-October.
Because Benicia’s public library is not part of the county library system, masks are required for everyone, Steve Young said Friday. Any changes, the mayor added, will be based on COVID case count.
The county currently “does not mandate masks for vaccinated people in indoor public spaces, except for those venues where the state specifically requires, such as public transportation. schools, and healthcare facilities,” Solano Public Health Director Bela Matyas said Friday.
Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown sent a letter dated Aug. 27 to Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell and the Vallejo City Council encouraging the city re-instate a mask mandate — which it did — and noting that she doesn’t have enough votes on the board of supervisors to implement a (county-wide) mandate.
“I am in full support of a mask mandate in Solano County,” wrote Brown, emphasizing that “the science supports requiring face coverings” and that “the unvaccinated are filling our hospitals at alarming rates. Vaccinations are crucial to beating the virus, but so are mask mandates.”
The Benicia City Council is expected to re-instate mask mandates — vaccinated or not — for entering businesses in a vote of its five members at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Despite an increase in COVID cases traced to the Delta variant, Solano County has not joined other Bay Area counties in requiring masks for all. Current protocols dictate those who have been vaccinated don’t need to mask up while those who aren’t vaccinated are asked to mask.
“The fact the county is not going to have one (mask mandate for all) puts the pressure on cities like Benicia to act on our own,” said Mayor Steve Young by phone Friday.
Young said Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Public Health Director, is expected to “testify” either in person or by phone during the upcoming Benicia council meeting.
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“We have eight different (county) public health directors determining a mask mandate is necessary and he’s taken the opposite direction,” Young said.
In Vallejo, it’s status quo, said Vice Mayor Rozzana Verder-Aliga, vacationing this week in Hawaii.
“The city council is not considering mask mandates at this time although I have received an email request from a council member to put it on the agenda,” Verder-Aliga said. “My opinion is to follow Solano County COVID-19 safety guidelines for now. I personally wear masks at indoor events and at my office per Solano County protocols. I am fully vaccinated as well as my entire family and plan to take booster shots when available.”
Verder-Aliga’s advice to Vallejo residents “is to get vaccinated and follow CDC COVID-19 guidelines.”
Though Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell was unavailable for comment, Interim Vallejo City Manager Anne Cardwell said she is “going to broach the topic of mask requirements in public spaces and COVID” at the Vallejo City Council’s Tuesday meeting, according to Christina Lee, Vallejo’s Communications and Public Information Officer.
“If it is to be agendized, we are potentially looking at the Sept. 14th meeting for that item,” Lee said, adding that “with the rise of the Delta variant, the city is requiring masks in all city buildings regardless of vaccination status at this time.”
Young said Benicia’s vaccination rate is second in the county to Rio Vista, “which isn’t surprising because of their retirement community.”
The Benicia mayor contends that with the county’s less restrictive protocols compared to Contra Costa County, “there are people refusing to shop in town. They’ll cross a bridge because they’re not comfortable going into Raley’s or Safeway without a mask mandate.”
A mask mandate “is a better option than leaving it up to the whims of an individual,” Young said. “And a mask mandate is also for the protection of employees. It’s about spreading the virus to each other. For example, employees at Raley’s are exposed to people all day long and if there are people unvaccinated and unmasked, it puts them (the employees) at greater risk.”
Young believes the Benicia City Council will pass a mask mandate, with tighter restrictions for city employees a possible topic for future meetings. Currently, city employees “simply have to fill out a form and send it to HR that attests to their (vaccination) status.”
In the near future, Young said city employees may have to show proof of vaccination with the CDC card.
“I’ve been trying to convince people to get vaccinated over a year now,” Young said. “Certainly, there’s a segment of the community that isn’t going to get vaccinated unless forced to and we’re not talking about a mandate forcing vaccinations.”
Young said his “first obligation as an elected official to protect the health and safety of our community. I see this as a necessary step in that direction.”
If the Benicia City Council passes the mask mandate, businesses will be required to post signs indicating masks must be worn indoors where people congregate like restaurants or in a real estate office lobby.
“If you’re by yourself in an office, you won’t have to wear a mask,” Young said.
There you will see that as of 9:23am on July 24, among all Californians, 52.7% are fully vaccinated, meaning they have either received both shots of a two-dose regime from Pfizer or Moderna, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Solano County had administered 458,724 doses of vaccine. 58.4% of county residents had received at least one dose, but only 48.8% were fully vaccinated.
Our fully vaccinated rate of 48.8% puts us right around average, ranking 27th among California’s 58 counties. Our one-dose measure ranks us a little better, 22nd out of 58 counties.
It’s interesting to compare Solano to our Bay Area neighbors: among the fully vaccinated, Solano ranks dead last among our 9 Bay Area and nearby neighbor counties.
At least 1 dose
Only Sacramento County has fewer residents who have received only 1 dose.
And… vaccination rates by Solano cities and zip codes – Benicia at 80%!
I tracked down Benicia’s vaccination rate on the State of California’s Open Data Portal. It’s complicated, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how I got there, but here’s the page you want: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/ca.open.data/viz/LHJVaccineEquityPerformance/MapView. This will open a map showing the instruction, “Click anywhere to load an interactive data experience.” You click on the map and another map that looks identical opens. But this map is interactive – click the + (plus sign) 2 or 3 times to enlarge the map, and then you can hover your mouse over our Solano cities and zips for detailed information. Here’s what I found hovering over Benicia (click the image to enlarge).
In Benicia, zip code 94510, we have a vaccination rate among the 24,819 of us who are 12 years and older… of 80%!
You can explore the map to see your city’s zip code. But I’ll save you a trip – here are the Solano cities/zips I was able to find AS OF TODAY. Note that these numbers are all higher than the LA Times numbers above. I suspect that is because this data calculates a percentage based on residents 12+ while the LA Times most likely uses total population.
Solano County zip code
Share of population vaccinated
Vallejo / Mare Island 94592
Vallejo all zips
Suisun City 94585
Green Valley/Ffield 94534
Travis AFB 94535
Rio Vista 94571
Something is surely off about the Travis numbers. Is the Air Base not reporting?
Interesting that EVERYONE in Elmira is vaccinated!