Home Contra Costa County Farnitano Says Schools Could Open Up Next Week in Contra Costa County

Farnitano Says Schools Could Open Up Next Week in Contra Costa County

by ECT

Dr. Chris Farnitano of Contra Costa Health Services told the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that K-6 schools could open as early as next week if COVID-19 case rate continues to drop.

The county needs to have an average new daily case rate of 25 per 100,000 residents for a period of 5 days – a threshold set by the state. According to the County Health Services Dashboard, the positivity rate is at 7.1% while the Cases per 100,000 is at 31.4.

Farnitano told the Board of Supervisors that the county case rates have dropped significantly since the peak of the surge. He said he believed they would get below state threshold by next week which would allow K-6 schools to reopen.  He estimated that middle schools and high schools could open once they are in the red tier which could be as soon as March.

This comes a week after state guidelines changed and a day after the Contra Costa County School Boards Association (CCCSBA) and fourteen school board presidents sent a joint letter calling on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and Contra Costa County Health Services to:

  1.  immediately ensure that all education workers in Contra Costa County school districts, particularly those reporting to work in-person, have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines;
  2. provide clear and consistent communications about how education and childcare workers are to receive their vaccines.”

Public schools in Contra Costa County have been closed since March 2020. Click here to read the letter.

Supervisor John Gioia stated that based on school districts requirements of wanting teachers and staff vaccinated, schools would not be reopening next week.

Gioia ensured a question by a public commenter was answered in how much flexibility the County has in adjusting the priority of teachers/staff to higher up on the list. Farnitano stated this was “limited” which while other county’s did start to vaccinate educators, they stopped once the state came out with the director of 65 and older. They also want to target hardest hit communities that are at higher-risk.

Supervisor Diane Burgis says that she heard a stat that 80% of educators are covered by Kaiser and if Kaiser is ready to handle the volume and take care of their members.

Farninanto stated the of the deaths in Contra Costa County, 82% of deaths have been 65 and older.  Next group to be vaccinated is the essential workers, childcare, educators, farm workers, emergency workers, approx. 100k and about 18,000 being education staff and 9,000 being actual teachers.

Farninatno did confirm most educators were covered by Kaiser but did not have the numbers but did not want certain health insurance to get ahead of others based on health insurance coverage.

Roth stated they are working with Kaiser, who has a strong roll to play, and believes supply has hindered the county and Kaiser to provide vaccines. She explained when vaccines are available, they will roll out at scale which is what they are good at which would then allow county to get out and educate and get into the community. Right now, the issue is the low supply available.


Vaccine Rollout per Anna Roth

Scarce amount of vaccines available in Contra Costa County as well as State of California. Federal production targets were not keeping up and demand across the world. 127,576 doses in Contra Costa County, mostly to healthcare works and seniors (75 & older). In total, County has had 529 COVID-19 related deaths.

“As of this pass weekend, we issued appointments everyone in data base 75 and older,” said Roth who said if they registered, they would have received and email and invited for an appointment to get vaccinated.

Roth says they are now accepting appointments for those 65-years-old and over.

Dr. Farnitano Update (summary)

Says Contra Costa County is doing a better job than other areas. Says without response the way they did, would have had another 690 deaths, if looking at rest of US, would have had another 1,012 deaths without response of the county. Long Term Care Outbreaks are dropping. They had been increasing since November, but are now dropping as vaccinations have been occurring. With care facilities of 30 or more, 90% have been given at least one vaccine—will be at 100% by this weekend with many on dose 2. Smaller facilities, 62% have received first dose, 31% are scheduled. Goal is to have all facilities 1st dose by mid-February and trying to accelerate. Focusing on low income seniors as well.

Supervisor Gioia Argues Equity in Vaccine Distribution (summary)

Supervisor John Gioia explained his issues he had with the vaccine distribution explaining that the gap needs to be closed because lower income and LatinX is being vaccinated at a lower rate—which is 25% of the county.

He highlighted how the bottom areas were: Byron, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Richmond and Oakley. While the top areas include Walnut Creek, Diablo, Danville, Lafayette and Orinda.

“We are not going to be judged on not what we say, but how we perform. I am still concerned, the numbers show a gap from last week,” stated Gioia.

He requested a plan of how the new $40 million from the state be spend and have accountability to it. He wanted the County to be transparent which half is based on “equity factors”.

Supervisor Candace Andersen stated that given the large Senior population, it was the demographics as to why the vaccination rate was higher along with healthcare providers living in her District. Andersen says when they do the general population, it will be less skewed.

“None of us want to see inequitable results,” stated Andersen. “Its not the wealthy communities getting it, it’s the older communities.”

Gioia argued those communities don’t have three times the seniors but LatinX only went down 1% over the past week.

Supervisor Diane Burgis highlighted they have the staff, they have the plan but they do not have the supply and it felt like they were moving in slow motion.

“If we had the supply, this would not be an issue,” states Burgis.

Gioia stated having sites to vaccinate is not the issue, it’s the outreach to have the public awareness to educate people to get them vaccinated.  He also argued while the county does not have the supply, some parts of the county are getting vaccinated at a rate 3-times higher than other parts of the community based on poverty and ethnic according to the data.

Dr. Roth agreed saying message heard which is why they hired a Chief Equity Officer.

Supervisor Federal Glover says the data is good, but he wants gap closure and equity. He urged the county health services to address the equity issues and begin to close the gap.

Help Your Neighbor Program
To launch later today to help older population to navigate online forms and get appointments. They will be asking cities to help through senior centers.

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Michael R Sagehorn Feb 2, 2021 - 4:41 pm

He can come substitute my class. What’s the “green” tier? That’s when we can go back.

Jerry S Feb 2, 2021 - 4:50 pm

We’re NOT sending our 5 kids to school! No way in hell! With vast improvement in technology, online learning should be the way to go. This way the kids learn without being distracted by disruptive scumbags. Possibly, if the coronavirus has disappeared, we might enroll them in private schools where parents have more control on what is being taught and how classes are handled.

Anne Italiano Feb 4, 2021 - 12:37 am

There is no way that we will be having our children attend any school for quite a while. If we do, then it will be a private school. We’re finished with government schools.

Robert C. Feb 4, 2021 - 9:30 am

“Michael” wants no schools reopened until the coronavirus is essentially irradicated. The comments of “Jerry” and “Anne” are essentially rants about public schools and not relevant to the issue.

The real issue is balancing the danger of possible coronavirus transmission vs. the damage being done to kids’ learning – and it’s a tough call. The coronavirus risk cannot be dismissed but the damage to learning is also REAL and mounting. It’s not negated with “improvements in technology” Jerry. Kids learn better academically (and also develop socialization skills) with in-person instruction. “Distance learning” is not the same thing as home schooling, which few parents can undertake due to work commitments.

School reopening needs to strike a reasonable balance between public safety and educational damage. It can’t wait until “everything’s green.”

Terri Feb 4, 2021 - 3:31 pm

I agree I am in an area where the teachers are great. I have two grandsons here doing their school work and teachers are doing a fantastic job with keeping them in class and up to date with all of their work. We are part of Belshaw Elementary school and the other parents will agree with me. This is better than risking their health with Covid-19 anyday.

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