Coronavirus: Solano doc says curve flattening, more work to be done

Board of Supervisors to return to the table to talk state funding usage

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Kim Fu, April 7, 2020

Positive coronavirus figures in Solano County are expected to rise but there’s no cause for alarm, as the numbers merely reflect an increase in testing.

Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health

So explained Dr. Bela Matyas with Solano Public Health Tuesday as he addressed the county’s Board of Supervisors.

In his update, Matyas talked about recently-released data that shows a breakdown of coronavirus cases by city. Those with 10 or more show exact figures, those with less do not. As of Tuesday, two related deaths have been reported.

“The coronavirus continues to spread but the impact on our hospitals have so far been substantial but not overwhelming,” he advised, adding that there are “lots of ICU beds, lots of ventilators.”

The stay at home order issued in March appears to be working, he continued, but more must be done.

“We have to stay the course if we want this approach to work. We have to do this for as long as necessary,” he said. “The most critical of all this is protecting the most vulnerable.”

The latter has been defined as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Matyas guesstimated the virus peaking around late April to mid May.

Though the worst is expected to be over at that time, risks will remain and the virus will still exist.

“It may be substantially longer before we can consider us through the outbreak and see it behind us,” he clarified.

Drive-through coronavirus testing is expected to begin today at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo. First responders and healthcare workers only will be eligible for the test. Any remaining kits will be made available at a later date to other essential workers.

In other matters, an emergency grant from the state slated to go towards aiding homeless clients regarding COVID-19 prevention and containment efforts caused tension amongst the board.

At issue was the COVID-19 Emergency Homeless grant award agreement, which offered $206,370 from the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.

The board needed to approve receipt of the funding, which would then “be provided as a non-county contribution to Community Action Partnership (CAP) Solano Joint Powers Authority,” slated to coordinate emergency COVID-19 efforts (a 4/5 vote required). The board’s approval would also authorize the county administrator to execute the agreement and subsequent agreements/amendments with the grantor to facilitate acceptance of the award.

Supervisor Skip Thomson adamantly refused to support the funding being placed in the hands of CAP Solano.

“I don’t think they’ve done a good job, to be honest,” he said, adding that the money could be better spent on four portable wash/restroom stations at a cost of about $50,000 each.

It would address hygiene issues, he said, pointing out that, with restroom facilities at fast food eateries, coffee shops, parks and more now closed, homeless residents have made bushes their new lavatories. That, he said, will soon become a public health crisis.

The mobile units could be deployed to Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville and other locales on a rotating basis, Thomson said, and also be used in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Services in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency.

Supervisor Jim Spering said he needed more information before supporting the mobile stations, but agreed with Thomson regarding CAP Solano. What assurances are there that the money will be spent where it’s supposed to be, he asked.

Chairwoman Erin Hannigan said a delayed decision regarding the funding could hurt the homeless now, as help is needed now.

Following much discussion, a motion to go forward with Thomson’s mobile wash station failed 2-3, with Hannigan, Spering and John Vasques dissenting.

The original motion also failed, 1-4, with Monica Brown, Spering, Vasquez and Thomson all dissenting.

A third and final motion to, among other things, accept the agreement regarding the funding, have staff return with more information regarding the mobile wash stations and hold an emergency board meeting Tuesday passed unanimously.