Christina Strawbridge on masks: ‘I’m hoping we can rise above politics here’

Benicia City Council to decide on city-wide mask mandate at Aug. 24 special meeting

Benicia Herald, by Galen Kusic, August 20, 2021
[Reprinted with permission, not available online.  Subscribe]

Nearly 81 percent of Benicia’s residents are fully vaccinated, making it the second most vaccinated city in the county, next to Rio Vista. However, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, state and in Solano County, Benicia is not being spared.

Over the past five days, Benicia has recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases, an average of five new cases per day, for a total of 1,187 cases since the pandemic began. And while Benicia has the lowest incidence rate in the county at 4,305 per 100,000 residents, the uptick is alarming.

That is what spurred Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell to bring back a discussion on whether to mandate masks in public indoor spaces within Benicia. The eight other Bay Area counties have already implemented the mandate, while Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas is the lone holdout. In a unanimous vote on Tue. night at the regular City Council meeting, councilmembers voted to bring back the item for a vote on whether to implement the mandate at the Aug. 24 special meeting.

“I implemented a mask mandate within our store a week ago because of the Delta virus strain,” said Councilmember and First St. business owner Christina Strawbridge. “I think it’s the responsible thing to do. I have to protect my staff and I have to protect my customers…I’m hoping we can rise above politics here.”

Matyas has been invited to attend the meeting. It should be a spirited conversation at the least as the majority of residents spoke out in favor of the mandate.