Tag Archives: Benicia Vice Mayor Tom Campbell

VIDEO: Benicia City Council deliberates, hears public comment, and votes to lift mask mandate

By Roger Straw, February 16, 2022

For those with the stomach for it, here is the Benicia City Council’s Feb. 15 discussion and 4-1 vote to lift the citywide indoor mask mandate.  Fair warning: public comments were full of misinformation and self-centered right-wing talking points about individual freedom.  Vice Mayor Campbell was the only Council member with enough backbone and regard for scientific fact to oppose this action.  Thank you, Tom Campbell!  Republican Councilmember Largaespada led the anti-mask charge, and should pay the price when we go to the polls in November.  (See guide to the video time slots below.)

Benicia City Council video excerpt, Item 21B, Feb. 15, 2022

Guide to the video – The face covering discussion begins with the Staff Report…

    • 3:39:42 – City Manager Erik Upson
    • 3:45:00 – Council Questions – Macenski, Upson answer, Young, Upson and Stock answer
    • 3:49:45 – Largaespada slide presentation
    • 3:58:29 – Campbell slide presentation
    • 4:03:20 – PUBLIC COMMENT
    • 5:20:13 – Council deliberation
    • 5:40:10 – Motion by Largaespada to lift indoor mask mandate (second by Strawbridge)
    • 5:39:30 – ADJOURN

Benicia City Council fails to continue science-based COVID protections, lifts mask mandate

February 16, 2022
By Benicia’s Dr. Richard Fleming
(Nextdoor post, reprinted here with permission)

Richard Fleming, M.D., Benicia, CA

On February 15, our city council voted to lift the indoor mask mandate by a vote of 4-1.

While their vote was not surprising, it was disappointing.

With 8 of the 9 Bay Area counties lifting county-wide masking orders, it would have been a stretch for Benicia’s city leaders to continue the local mandate.

In written and public comments, the main point I tried to make is that if one looks objectively at Benicia’s and Solano County’s numbers, we are far behind the rest of the Bay Area. Our cases are much higher. Our hospitalization rate is mid-range, but has increased since the city council last discussed the mandate in mid-January.

And, most concerning, our vaccination rate is significantly lower than the rest of the Bay Area. Excellent data shows that 3 shots are needed (or 2 shots, if the first is J&J) for optimal protection. Currently 43.2% of Benicia residents are optimally vaccinated. The other Bay Area counties have much higher vaccination rates.

The public comment period during the meeting was spirited, and many people called for the mandate to end. While I understand people’s frustration, the reasons people calling in gave for ending the mandate did not address our current situation with the pandemic. The reasons callers brought up included: masks don’t work, they are dangerous to your health, they are divisive, they are political, they have turned Benicia into a hateful angry town, they are a product of irrational fear, few people in the rest of the country wear masks and they are all doing just fine, and masks are hard on children.

Callers said mandates are unconstitutional and people should have the individual right to do what they want.

Since none of these comments addressed where the pandemic currently stands, they would have been equally applicable a year ago.

Leaving aside the question of children, there are rational opposing views to each of these statements, based on both scientific study and U.S. judicial history, but I will not revisit those here.

Specifically on the issue of children, I think a valid case can be made that children should no longer be required to wear masks. At the same time, there is little doubt that mask-wearing by children has helped save many teachers and grandparents from getting sick. But at this point, with numbers improving, it is probably time to for children to take their masks off.

Tom Campbell, Benicia Vice Mayor

Vice Mayor Tom Campbell was the lone vote to continue the mandate. He pointed to the hundreds of medical studies which confirm the effectiveness of masking. He also referred to the fact that our numbers do not yet support lifting this safety measure, though hopefully our numbers will be better soon.

Bottom line, I think the council lifted the mask mandate a bit prematurely. I think our numbers would improve more quickly had it been left in place, but hopefully they will continue to improve anyway. We in Benicia are substantially protected by what the rest of the Bay Area is doing, since we are not a walled-off island. And the fact the rest of the Bay Area has vaccinated such a high proportion of its population and succeeded in quashing the virus more effectively than we have will help things here in Benicia.

Ultimately, the two best things we can each do are get vaccinated and boosted, and to understand that actions we each take can have an impact on others. We live in a community, and we each have freedoms, but freedoms come with responsibilities towards others.

Benicia will review mask mandate in 6 weeks – here’s how

Benicia COVID cases have risen to the CDC’s most dangerous “High Transmission level” since August 11 – well over the CDC’s “Substantial Transmission level.”

By Roger Straw, August 27, 2021  [UPDATED – note new information about the requirement of 30 days below substantial transmission level.]

Benicia’s new mask mandate refers to the CDC transmission levels as its standard for reviewing whether to continue the mask mandate.

The mandate will remain in place for 6 weeks, after which Council will review the order (on October 5).  The order will “remain in effect until the City is not in a substantial or high transmission of COVID 19 as defined by the CDC for a thirty-day period.” (From Resolution 21-88, adopted August 24)

The CDC’s formula for calculating level of transmission looks complicated, but it’s actually rather simple.  First, here is the CDC’s complicated presentation.  I’ll simplify after that….

TABLE. CDC core indicators of and thresholds for community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2
Indicator Transmission level
Low Moderate Substantial High
New cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days* 0–9.99 10.00–49.99 50.00–99.99 ≥100.00
Percentage of positive nucleic acid amplification tests in the past 7 days <5.00 5.00–7.99 8.00–9.99 ≥10.00

* Number of new cases in the county (or other administrative level) in the past 7 days divided by the population in the county (or other administrative level) multiplied by 100,000.
 Number of positive tests in the county (or other administrative level) during the past 7 days divided by the total number of tests performed in the county (or other administrative level) during the past 7 days. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/resources/calculating-percent-positivity.html

In the Benicia City Council discussions, only new cases per 100,000 was mentioned as a factor for review (unless I missed something).  Councilmember Tom Campbell did the math on the spot, and indicated that Benicia’s number would be 13 cases (later amended to 14) over the last 7 days.

Simply put, >>based on our population, when the County reports 14 or more new Benicia cases over the last 7 days, the CDC classifies us as having a level of “substantial transmission.”  If we see 28 cases over the last 7 days we are in an area of “high transmission.”  The mask mandate will continue until we have been below 14 new cases per week for at least 30 days.

The bad news… Here is a chart showing Benicia’s 7-day case levels per 100K over the past several weeks.  Clearly, we have been in Substantial or High since mid-July.

Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard – ARCHIVE
Date Total Confirmed Cases, Solano County Δ Total Confirmed Cases, Benicia Δ Cases previous 7 days per 100K  (CDC Substantial: Benicia 14+)
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 33,651 15 1,010 3 8
Thursday, June 17, 2021 33,673 22 1,012 2 9
Friday, June 18, 2021 33,707 34 1,015 3 12
Monday, June 21, 2021 33,762 55 1,017 2 11
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 33,797 35 1,021 4 11
Friday, June 25, 2021 33,846 49 1,025 4 10
Monday, June 28, 2021 33,898 52 1,029 4 12
Wednesday, June 30, 2021 33,973 75 1,029 0 8
Friday, July 2, 2021 34,044 71 1,030 1 5
Tuesday, July 6, 2021 34,149 105 1,038 8 9
Friday, July 9, 2021 34240 91 1,040 2 11
Monday, July 12, 2021 34377 137 1,045 5 15
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 34461 84 1,048 3 10
Friday, July 16, 2021 34630 169 1,056 8 16
Monday, July 19, 2021 34761 131 1,062 6 17
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 34885 124 1,070 8 22
Friday, July 23, 2021 35193 308 1,084 14 28
Monday, July 26, 2021 35482 289 1,092 8 30
Wednesday, July 28, 2021 35703 221 1,102 10 32
Friday, July 30, 2021 36004 301 1,110 8 26
Monday, August 2, 2021 36249 245 1,115 5 23
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 36525 276 1,125 10 23
Friday, August 6, 2021 36848 323 1,132 7 22
Monday, August 9, 2021 37056 208 1,141 9 26
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 37350 294 1,153 12 28
Friday, August 13, 2021 37664 314 1,167 14 35
Monday, August 16, 2021 37914 250 1,177 10 36
Wednesday, August 18, 2021 38294 380 1,187 10 34
Friday, August 20, 2021 38764 470 1,205 18 38
Monday, August 23, 2021 39002 238 1,216 11 39
Wednesday, August 25, 2021 39329 327 1,224 8 37
More CDC Resources:

ALERT! Please attend City Council meeting tonight, Tues. Aug. 24, 6PM – Indoors Masking

Attend tonight’s 6PM meeting if you can!

By Roger Straw, August 24, 2021

Your comments and support for reinstating an indoors mask mandate for Benicia is desperately needed as we protect ourselves and others from the surging and highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Our County health department is failing to protect public health and safety, so we have to take action locally.  Thank goodness Mayor Young and Vice-Mayor Campbell have taken this initiative.  The measure MUST pass tonight!

Here’s the agenda item, followed by instructions for attending the virtual meeting.


At the August 17, 2021 City Council meeting, the City Council directed City staff to prepare a resolution requiring face coverings be worn in certain circumstances indoors given the rise of COVID-19 cases relating to the Delta variant. If adopted, the resolution would be effective immediately and require face coverings in certain locations as detailed in the resolution.

Discuss and consider adopting a resolution requiring the mandatory use of face coverings in certain circumstances. Staff has attached two draft resolutions for consideration. The first resolution (Attachment 1) is based on Resolution No. 20-78, adopted by the Council on June 16, 2020. The second resolution is based on the health orders issued by the seven neighboring Bay Area health officers (Attachment 2). A majority vote is required to adopt any resolution.

Staff Report – Mandate Face Coverings

Attachment 1. DRAFT Resolution – Face Covering Mandate Based on Resolution No. 20-78

Attachment 2. DRAFT Resolution – Face Covering Mandate Based on Seven Bay Area Counties Health Orders

3. Two-Step Request – Mayor Young & Vice Mayor Campbell


Members of the public may provide public comments to the City Clerk by email at lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us. Any comment submitted to the City Clerk should indicate to which item of the agenda the comment relates. Specific information follows:

– Comments received by 2:00 pm on the day of the meeting will be electronically forwarded to the City Council and posted on the City’s website.
– Comments received after 2:00 pm, but before the start time of the meeting will be electronically forwarded to the City Council, but will not be posted on the City’s website, and will not be read into the record.
– Comments received after the start time of the meeting, but prior to the close of the public comment period for an item will be read into the record, with a maximum allowance of 5 minutes per individual comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion.

Additionally, the public may view and provide public comment via Zoom (via computer or phone) link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83935851585?pwd=OXFSd1BPeHYxOUxOSXVqM0RFME1hQT09

• If prompted for a password, enter 405755.
• Use participant option to “raise hand” during the public comment period for the item you wish to speak on. Please note, your electronic device must have microphone capability. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

OR: Dial in with phone:
Before the start of the item you wish to comment on, call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try the next one.
1 669 900 9128
1 346 248 7799
1 253 215 8782
1 646 558 8656
1 301 715 8592
1 312 626 6799

• Enter the meeting ID number: 839 3585 1585 *please note this is an updated ID number*.
• Enter password: 405755
• When prompted for a Participant ID, press #.
• Press *9 on your phone to “raise your hand” when the Mayor calls for public comment during the item you wish to speak on. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.