Category Archives: Vaccine mandate

Benicia City Council will consider amendments to local mask mandate

NOTE: The information below is not the latest.  CLICK HERE for today’s latest information.

By Roger Straw, Friday, October 22, 2021  [Breaking news: Benicia City Council may weaken mask mandate – click here to scroll down.  – R.S>]

Friday, October 22: Solano County reports 79 new infections and remains in the CDC’s SUBSTANTIAL 7-day transmission rate.  Benicia also remains in SUBSTANTIAL community transmission.

Solano County COVID dashboard SUMMARY:
[Sources: see below.]

DEATHS: Solano reported no new COVID-related deaths today.  The County has reported 45 COVID deaths just since Sept 1.  A total of 315 Solano residents have died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

CASES: The County reported 79 new COVID cases since Wednesday, 40 per day.  AGES: 18 of these 79 cases were youth and children under 18.  37 were age 18-49, 19 were age 50-64, and only 5 were 65+.

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION RATE: Over the last 7 days, Solano has seen SUBSTANTIAL community transmission, with 278 new cases.  Good news is that this is down from 430 on Wednesday.  CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 cases in 7 days would move Solano up into the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate, and we would need to drop below 225 cases in 7 days to rate as having only MODERATE community transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano’s 348 ACTIVE cases is up slightly from Wednesday’s 342, and still far above our summer rates.

CASES BY CITY on Friday, October 22:

    • Benicia added only 3 new cases today, a total of 1,519 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: SUBSTANTIAL.  Benicia has seen 23 new cases over the last 7 days, remaining below the CDC’s definition of HIGH community transmission (defined as 28 or more cases, based on Benicia population – SEE CHART BELOW).  [Note above that Solano County is currently experiencing SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

    • Dixon added 4 new cases today, total of 2,529 cases.
    • Fairfield added 21 new cases today, total of 12,163 cases.
    • Rio Vista reported at 1 new case today, total of 597 cases.
    • Suisun City added 10 new cases today, total of 3,215 cases.
    • Vacaville added 23 new cases today, a total of 11,917 cases.
    • Vallejo added 17 new cases today, a total of 13,308 cases.
    • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 139 cases (population figures not available).

POSITIVE TEST RATE:  Solano’s 7-day average percent positivity rate was 5.5% today, up from Wednesday’s 4.6%.  COMPARE: today’s California rate is 1.4% and today’s U.S. rate is 4.9%[Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]


CURRENT hospitalizations were down today from 44 to 37 persons, but still far above the range we saw during last summer.

ICU Bed Availability is at 37% today, back in the green safe zone and up from only 11% on Monday and 20% on Wednesday.  We remain in the worrisome range we saw during last winter’s surge.

Ventilator Availability is up today from 57% to 66%, getting better.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County’s TOTAL hospitalized over the course of the pandemic must be independently discovered in the County’s occasional update of hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity.  The County did not update its hospitalizations charts today.  Total COVID hospitalizations in Solano remain at 2,838 since the beginning of the outbreak.

BREAKING NEWS: FACE MASKS… Benicia’s mask mandate may be weakened by City Council on Nov 16

On Tuesday, October 19, Benicia City Council reviewed our CDC-defined 7-day community transmission rate for September-October, which has yet to dip below the SUBSTANTIAL level.  Because of this poor data and according to City Resolution 21-88, Council left in place Benicia’s citywide indoors mask mandate for now.  The mandate went into effect on August 24 and includes everyone 4 years old and up when indoors in public places, even those of us who are vaccinated.  On Tuesday, Councilmember Largaespada convinced other Councilmembers and staff to bring consideration of amending the mandate back to Council on November 16.  Largaespada suggested amendments that could weaken the mandate with various exceptions, possibly including no indoor mask requirements in restaurants, bars and gyms.  Largaespada would “Limit the mask mandate to the most essential businesses in town.”  He added that groceries, pharmacies, banks and City Hall might be considered essential.

Vallejo also passed an indoors mask mandate on August 31.  In the Bay Area, Solano County REMAINS the only holdout against a mask mandate for public indoors spaces.

SOLANO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS failed to consider an agendized proposal for a countywide MASK MANDATE on Tuesday, September 14.  Recent Bay Area news put Solano in a sad light: all other county health officers issued a joint statement offering details on when they would be able to lift mask mandates (not likely soon).  TV news anchors had to point out that Solano would not be considering such a move since our health officer had not been able to “justify” a mask mandate in the first place.  The Solano Board of Supervisors has joined with Dr. Bela Matyas in officially showing poor leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic.

HOW DOES TODAY’S REPORT COMPARE?  See recent reports and others going back to April 20, 2020 on my ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).

>>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 4 or 5pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for “Summary, Demographics” and “Vaccines.”  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.


SF Chronicle on COVID vaccine exemptions: unvaccinated people put young children at risk

Editorial: Vaccine mandates work. But not if California gives fake ‘personal belief exemptions’ a pass

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, Oct. 17, 2021
Lower doses of vaccine work for children.

In January 2015, an outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland in Anaheim spread across California and eventually throughout North America. All told, the virus made its way to seven U.S. states, Mexico and Canada, infecting 159 people, the vast majority of whom were unvaccinated.

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study of the Americans who were infected found that most were either too young to receive a vaccine or declined to be vaccinated, citing personal reasons. The natural conclusion was that unvaccinated people put young children at risk. And that “personal belief exemptions” from vaccine mandates can be dangerous loopholes that empower irrational objections to inoculation and endanger public health.

In the aftermath of this outbreak and several others in California, state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, a pediatrician, introduced legislation to crack down on lax personal belief and medical exemptions for otherwise mandatory school vaccinations. That bill, SB277, received huge pushback from the burgeoning anti-vax movement, with actress Jenny McCarthy among others, stirring up opposition. But the effort was eventually victorious; it is now very difficult in California for parents to get their kids a medical or personal exemption from traditional childhood immunizations for 10 serious illnesses (such as polio) without legitimate reasons.

Just because your kid is allergic to cats doesn’t mean they’re allergic to vaccines. They need to get their shots.

And yet concessions made to pass the bill now have implications for COVID. SB277 did not anticipate future outbreaks of new diseases that would require vaccination. As such, the law includes an amendment that allows the governor and public authorities to unilaterally issue new vaccine mandates “only if exemptions are allowed for both medical reasons and personal beliefs.”

And so, with COVID exemptions, we’re effectively back to square one. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his public health authorities can (and did) mandate Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID shots as a prerequisite for attending in-person schooling. But removing the same specious personal belief and medical exemptions that we did in 2016 will require the Legislature to act.

It should. Californians have already proven themselves adept at exploiting the old exemptions. And the incoherent opposition to safe and effective vaccines, sadly, is now stronger with backers who are far more formidable than McCarthy.

All indications are that COVID will become endemic, meaning it will be with us in one form or another in perpetuity. While this sounds terrifying, it doesn’t have to be. Vaccines can protect us from serious COVID illness and death. But none of us are born immune. Just like with measles and polio, each passing generation will need to be inoculated. Without vaccines, this virus will continue to kill. Which is why mandating shots for the young is so essential.

Schools are the logical place for society to make its stand and stop COVID’s deadly rampage for good. Everyone is entitled to an education, but vaccination is an appropriate exchange. Moreover, the current status quo of constant testing and quarantines is unsustainable.

“Think about how much schools are spending on COVID control,” says Pan. “Those are resources pulled away from primary education. Vaccinating kids means less spending on COVID control and more on their education.”

The Legislature is out of session until 2022. But when it returns, amending state public health laws for the COVID-era will be imperative. California doesn’t just need to pave the way for mass COVID vaccinations, it needs to give public health authorities the flexibility they need to deal with future emergencies.

What happens when a new pandemic arises that requires a new vaccine? The legislative process takes time. And in public health emergencies, time is too precious to waste fighting the Jenny McCarthys of the world.

The Pfizer COVID vaccine is now fully approved by the FDA for people age 16 and over. Emergency authorization for kids 12-15 is in effect, and it could be granted for kids age 5-11 by Halloween.

Vaccine mandates work. They can and will help neuter COVID and keep it from re-emerging as a deadly threat. They can do the same for future infectious diseases where safe and effective vaccines are made available. But danger will linger if California doesn’t put a permanent stop to the fake excuses for avoiding vaccines.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form:

Kaiser supports CA student vaccine requirement to protect students, faculty, staff

Kaiser requires its own staff to be vaccinated, calls on other organizations to do likewise

Kaiser is now mandating vaccinations for all its employees. Jason Pierce, Sacramento Bee file.
Kaiser supports governor on student vaccines
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente Chair and CEO, October 14, 2021

After a year-and-a-half of this virus controlling and taking away lives, we know that vaccination is the most powerful tool we have to stop this pandemic, to prevent more dangerous strains from developing, and to restore the freedom of safety and normalcy.

COVID Vaccination Required for California School Children – Oct. 1, 2021, Variety

Kaiser Permanente supports California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strong and timely action today to protect students, faculty and staff who have returned to in-person learning by requiring eligible students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend schools for in-person instruction, once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, beginning in 2022. This is an important step that will protect students and school employees across the state who have returned to full, in-person instruction this school year.

As a health care organization, Kaiser Permanente has an obligation to our 12.5 million members and patients — and to our employees, physicians, and communities to ensure their safety and to protect them from infection.

When we announced our vaccination requirement on Aug. 2, our overall employee and physician vaccination rate was 78 percent. Since then, we have made remarkable progress: Today, 92 percent of our employees have been vaccinated — and the number continues to grow. As part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to lead vaccine efforts across the country, we are calling on other organizations, big and small, to mandate the vaccine for their employees, customers, constituents, and other stakeholders.

We deeply appreciate the extraordinary commitment and dedication of all Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians throughout our response to the pandemic, especially those who have been serving on the front lines to fight this deadly virus. We encourage everyone to play a role in ending the pandemic by getting the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

— Greg A. Adams/Kaiser Permanente Chair and CEO

City of Benicia now requires vaccination (or weekly tests & masking) of all City staff

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: City of Benicia This Week

Message from the City Manager, Erik Upson
October 11, 2021

Hello Everyone,

City of Benicia Personnel Policy #44 will take effect today. This policy requires vaccination of City staff. Those not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly and wear a mask while indoors at City facilities as well as following all applicable State, County and Local guidelines regarding the wearing of masks.

We did not step into this lightly, but felt it was needed to help protect the safety of our staff and our community. I know some will feel this policy does not go far enough. And some will feel it is a governmental overreach. As always, we are trying to do our very best to balance very real public health concerns with the very real concerns about personal freedoms. Bottom line is we want to do what is best for our community and our staff in this difficult and ever-changing pandemic response.

I want to take a moment to thank our labor groups and their representatives as well as Kim Imboden, our Human Resources Manager, and Fire Chief Josh Chadwick for their work on this. From the very beginning our labor representatives took a positive, thoughtful, and collaborative approach to this very delicate issue.

We continue to look for ways to advance the health of our community. We are currently working with the County in hopes that we will be at the forefront of providing booster shots as those become necessary and more widely available. Additionally, it is our hope when the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, we will be able to partner with the County and the School District to help provide those shots at a local clinic. Finally, the Fire Chief is working with the County in hopes of providing drive-through flu clinics here in Benicia later this year.

On a very positive note, I would like to point out that the Benicia Dog Festival will be happening on Sunday, October 17 at the First Street Green. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. This festival has been a long time in the works, and I want to give thanks to the event’s founder Gaul Culley for her patience, thoughtfulness, and, yes, stubbornness, as she worked to make this event happen. Benicia is a very dog-friendly community, and this event will be a fantastic opportunity to get out and connect. Please see their website for more information (

Thank you for your interest in the City of Benicia This Week!

Erik Upson
City Manager