July News: Masks Indoors, State Budget Update, City Agreement with UC Berkeley & More

One thing many of us have grappled with over the course of this pandemic is the high level of uncertainty that we face. The Delta variant brings us to yet another inflection point in which experts are processing data in real-time and our public health officials are updating health and safety guidance. 

Earlier this month, the City of Berkeley issued the following guidance related to face coverings:

The City of Berkeley’s Health Officer along with health officers around the region encourage vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike to wear face coverings in indoor public settings, an environment fueling spread of the Delta variant of the virus causing Covid-19 disease.

Each of the three tested, safe, and effective vaccines provide high protection against serious illness and death while also reducing infections, including against the Delta variant. By masking indoors, people help to further reduce unintended spread.

These recommendations are not a Health Order. Current state workplace rules require employers to document which employees are vaccinated or not before allowing the vaccinated to unmask.

“The Delta variant is spreading quickly, and everyone should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “After vaccination, masking is the next most powerful tool we have to protect ourselves and each other during this latest wave of infections.”

“Wearing masks, especially indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, will help us contain this more transmissible variant,” said Dr. Hernandez.

The Delta variant has rapidly become the dominant strain, growing from 2 percent of cases in April to 83 percent of genetically tested cases in July. In Berkeley, the case rate has grown from 3 average daily cases (for the 7 days prior to July 1) to 16 daily cases for the 7 days prior to July 26. Similar patterns are being seen around the region and nation.

Merchants who would like signage that reflects this current guidance from Bay Area Health Officers can download posters and flyers from the City’s Outreach Library.

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Currently, 69 percent of our population is fully vaccinated. If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, your vaccine is reserved and waiting for you. Here are all the ways to get vaccinated in Berkeley

I also want to assure our community that the City is working hard to reach individuals who have not yet been vaccinated. We are contracting with community-based organizations for outreach workers who can make one-on-one connections with the remaining unvaccinated population. I’m also personally tracking vaccine requirements and engaging in conversation with our City staff leadership and business community in order to assess the appropriate path forward for our City organization and community to thrive.

In this newsletter:


Community Meetings with Your Councilmember

REMINDER: I’m hosting two Community Meetings this week. Please see details below.

Street Safety meeting: Thurs, July 29 5:30-6:30pm on Zoom. 

https://bit.ly/3rMQz9F
Meeting ID: 960 8779 0591
Passcode: 294306
Street Safety meeting: Thurs, July 29 5:30-6:30pm on Zoom.
Zoom meeting: https://bit.ly/3rMQz9F
Meeting ID: 960 8779 0591
Passcode: 294306
Drop-in community event. Cedar Rose Park: Sunday, Aug 1, 2pm-4pm. With Berkeley Police Chief Jen Louis, members of the Community Services Bureau and Councilmember Kesarwani to discuss safety concerns, ask questions, and engage one on one.
Drop-in community event. Cedar Rose Park: Sunday, Aug 1, 2pm-4pm.

State Budget Update from Our State Senator Nancy Skinner

State Senator Nancy Skinner helped to craft the state budget as Chair of the State legislature's Senate Budget Committee.
State Senator Nancy Skinner helped to craft the state budget as Chair of the State legislature’s Senate Budget Committee.

We are very fortunate that our State Senator Nancy Skinner serves as the Chair of the State legislature’s Senate Budget Committee. With Sen. Skinner on the leadership team crafting the state’s budget, the Legislature and Governor have reached a state budget agreement that capitalizes on a historic $76 billion surplus.
I wanted to make sure you saw Sen. Skinner’s recent budget update that summarizes key investments included in the state’s FY 2021-22 budget:

Economic Relief for Families & Small Business/Nonprofits

  • Golden State Stimulus 2. Residents with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 will receive a $600 stimulus check, and families with kids, including ITIN filers, will get an additional $500. Use this link to determine if you are eligible.
  • Renter Assistance. To help low-income renters and landlords, the budget includes funds to cover up to 100 percent of unpaid rent and extends the state’s eviction moratorium to Sept. 30. Use this link to apply.
  • Small Business/Nonprofits, Micro-Businesses, Arts and Cultural Venues Grants. More funds for the Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Program, bringing the total this year to $4 billion, and a special grant program for micro-businesses, as well as arts, music, and other venues. Use this link to apply.

Homelessness

  • Record $12 Billion to Address Homelessness. This new funding is to be distributed over two years, including $1 billion each year to cities where most of California’s unhoused folks live.

K-12 Schools and Early Care

  • Child Care, T-K, After-School. Over the next four years, transitional kindergarten—an additional year of school—will be available to all 4-year-olds, 200,000 more infants and children will have access to subsidized child care, plus all child care providers will get a pay raise. The budget also funds expanded after-school programs and state preschool.
  • K-12 Public Education. Record funding for K-12 schools provides about $21,000 per every K-12 student and allows California to be the first state to provide two school meals to every student.

Higher Education

  • UC and CSU. UC and CSU get a 5 percent ongoing funding increase, along with funds to boost enrollment of California students.
  • Financial Aid Expansion. Cal Grants for 133,000 more community college students, and the Middle Class Scholarship program will now cover both tuition and living costs so families don’t have to rely on big loans. 
  • Higher Ed Facilities/Student Housing. New $2 billion fund to support new facilities and housing. 

Fighting Poverty and Hunger

  • Low-Income Health Program Medi-Cal for All Age 50+. All income-eligible California residents 50+ years of age will now receive Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status.
  • Seniors and People with Disabilities. The budget increases monthly payments for those living on SSI/SSP and will now also give better pay to care providers.
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (CalWORKs). California’s lowest-income families, mostly single mothers with children, who depend on CalWORKs will receive higher monthly stipends and more assistance during pregnancy.
  • Foster Care Support. Foster youth 18 to 21 now have access to housing stipends and more financial support for college. Payment to families with foster children is also increased, and California will no longer send our foster children to out-of-state placements.
  • Food/Diapers/Menstrual Products. The state is expanding CalFresh food assistance benefits to more Californians regardless of immigration status, increasing funding to food banks, and permanently eliminating sales tax on diapers and menstrual products.
  • Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot Program. Launched the first-ever statewide guaranteed basic income program starting with support to aging out foster youth and those who are pregnant.

Additional Investments

  • Wildfire, Drought and Climate Resiliency. More than $7 billion over a few years to address wildfires and the drought and to support climate resiliency projects.
  • Broadband. Broadband access is now an essential need yet many Californians have limited to no access. To address our statewide digital divide, the budget invests $6 billion over three years to expand and build out broadband infrastructure and improve broadband access.
  • Gun Violence Prevention. The CalVIP program will receive more than $200 million to support gun violence reduction and prevention efforts across the state.

Fiscal Stability. $25.2 billion will be placed in reserve for future economic downturns and the state will fully pay off state debt for our schools.


City Reaches Agreement with UC Berkeley Related to Funding for City Services

The University of California system is a California treasure, with an unparalleled record of lifting up the neediest students and giving them a chance to realize a better future. I think in particular about the 41 percent of UC students who are the first in their families to go to college. Many of us here in Berkeley are Cal alumni, and I believe we have a special obligation as a host city to give the next generation of students a chance to succeed and a place to live. 

The City Council and the UC Board of Regents recently reached an agreement that settles litigation between the City and UC Berkeley. Under the terms of the agreement, the University will more than double its payments to the City for the use of City services to $4.1 million in the first year, with the amount increasing by 3 percent annually, for a total amount of $82.6 million over the next 16 years. The funding will support fire and City services, and projects supporting residents within a half mile of the UC main campus and Clark Kerr Campus.
The agreement also includes a number of non-economic terms that will benefit the City’s interests, which you can read more about HERE.

Photo: "Scenes from UC Berkeley - Sather Gate" by John-Morgan.
Photo: “Scenes from UC Berkeley – Sather Gate” by John-Morgan (License).

“The agreement represents one of the largest financial settlements a UC campus has provided to a host city and paves the way for expanded educational opportunities while balancing community concerns and prospective impacts on City services.”


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