Editors’ note: OFC’s Interim Executive Director Sam Ames began sending notes to staff the day we began to work remotely for our COVID-19 health and safety: March 5, 2020. Because these missives contain both newsy updates and food for the soul, we’ll be lightly editing (omitting quotidien staff notes), and sharing them more widely.
Okay, everyone, on to the updates:
- California is easing some statewide restrictions starting today, but more restrictive orders in the Bay still take precedent. The 6 Bay Area counties are not among those who will be lifting their shelter-in-place orders, which are still scheduled to continue through the end of May. Counties that do want to reduce their stay-at-home orders must have no more than one COVID case per 10,000 residents for two weeks, be able to conduct 1.5 daily tests per 1,000 residents, have at least 15 contract tracers per 100,000 residents, have the ability to support county employees who have been exposed or develop symptoms, no have recorded any COVID deaths for 14 days, be able to house at least 15% of homeless residents, and have sufficient disinfectant supplies and personal protective gear. For counties that reopen, retailers can only do delivery or curbside pickup, manufacturers can only have outdoor break areas rather than break rooms, and warehouses must carry sanitation materials during deliveries. Special hours must be observed for high-risk groups.
- San Francisco has updated its self-isolation directive. Anyone infected with or likely to have the virus is now instructed to isolate for at least 72 hours after recovery (defined as resolution of fever without medication and improvement of respiratory symptoms) and until at least 10 days have passed from the first onset of symptoms or from the first positive test, up from the previous guidance of 7.
- The majority of Google and Facebook employees have been instructed to work from home for the rest of 2020.
- Bay Area counties are increasing the amount of free testing available. San Francisco is now making tests available to any worker who must leave their home and interact with the public without a doctor’s note, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Oakland has opened up a new testing site at Roots Community Health Center in East Oakland where people can get free tests without an appointment, regardless of whether they have symptoms or whether they work outside the home.
- The California Supreme Court came out with two big decisions this week. First, it dismissed a lawsuit seeking to release large numbers of inmates from state facilities. Second, it upheld Governor Newsom’s plan to give $75 million in relief funds to undocumented immigrants affected by COVID.
- San Francisco has expanded its public restroom locations from 24 to 67. They’ll be staffed 24/7 and available near known homeless encampment areas.
- Several health facilities are resuming non-emergency surgeries, including Stanford Health Care. This includes many gender-affirmation surgeries which had been cancelled as hospitals restricted services.
- A new executive order makes it easier for California residents to enroll in CalWorks social assistance, waiving requirements for in-person interviews, suspending the requirement for verification of pregnancy, and allowing people with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line to receive a lump sum payment.
- Every registered California voter is now able to receive a mail-in ballot. Some physical polling places will still be open for people who can’t mail in their ballots.
- This week, the National Bail Out is holding their annual Black Mamas Bail Out campaign to bail out Black women in detention facilities so they can spend Mothers’ Day with their children. I highly encourage you to check it out and share with your networks.
It was a hard news week in more than a few ways, some of which involved this virus and some of which are just the ongoing racism and violence of this country and this world. There have been days when the injustice and powerlessness have been pretty crushing. There are those for whom this weekend can be beautiful and those for whom it can be painful. Next week is likely to be a big one, for the news and for us. As we move through this moment of pause (a relative term for those working on the gala, I know), I hope you’re able to find small moments of rest for your brain and body – but also for your heart. There will always be more work to do and more battles to fight. They’re not going anywhere, and they operate 24/7. You, however, don’t. Take a nap, use that GrubHub card, and maybe even look at what promises to be a heck of a moon. You can get back to crushing it on Monday, I promise.
P.S. – Today in people smarter than me, I’m coming back to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre one last time. This week, they released footage not seen by most eyes since 1972 of Judith Jamison’s legendary performance of “Cry.” Alvin Ailey choreographed the piece himself as a birthday present for his mother. It’s dedicated to “all black women everywhere—especially our mothers.” No matter what this week or this weekend have held for you, I bet you’ll find some truth here.