East Bay Getting to Zero
SARS-CoV-2 scanning electron microscope image from NIAID
The SARS-CoV-2 virus (NIAID)

Below are this week’s East Bay COVID-19 and HIV updates. This page is usually updated on Wednesday evenings with data and resources gathered from many collaborators in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Solano County, CA state.

Click on these links for vaccines, masks, guidance on prevention, testing and wellness, resources and links, archived weekly updates and the weekly PDF summary. East Bay HIV service organizations are providing services by phone, video with some in-person visits available.

Jump to:

Join us on Thursday, February 25, 2021 11-12:30 PM for State of the Pandemic in Alameda County: COVID-19 Conversations on Vaccines, Variants, and More. There will be a presentation, conversation and ample time for live Q&A. Learn more about the current state of COVID-19 in Alameda County, the vaccine and roll-out, and strategies that will protect your patients, consumers, and community from the virus and misinformation.

CA state legislature passed the Golden State Stimulus plan on February 23. The package will provide direct relief payments for working Californians earning less than $30,000. For Californians left out of federal stimulus programs, $600 one-time tax refunds to Californians with income of $75,000 or less who were excluded from federal stimulus payments because they file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), rather than a Social Security Number (SSN). To receive the $600 Golden State Stimulus payment for CalEITC filers, as well as the $600 for ITIN filers, eligible Californians must complete their 2020 tax returns.    

HIV community updates

On February 7, the Black AIDS Institute released a video accompaniment to their report: We The People: A Black Strategy to End HIV. Check out the report and video here.

The Ready, Set, PrEP program is providing a new mail-order prescription option.  PrEP medication may be delivered to a person’s home or health care provider in participating states.

HHS released an enhanced version of the America’s HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard (AHEAD) on February 22. You can now filter by specific EHE HIV indicators and national demographic information, compare multiple jurisdictions on the same chart, and download data in multiple formats. This release also includes updated linkage to care and diagnosis data, as well as HIV indicator data for all 50 states.

A survey for all health care workers: UCSF’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies is calling all health care workers (broadly defined) for a 10-25-minute survey about their experiences during COVID-19. The survey includes an optional $100 Amazon gift card raffle. The consent and survey can be accessed here.

East Bay COVID-19 updates 

COVID-19 daily case rates in the East have fallen by 60-70% over the past month and are now at rates similar to the summer surge. Death rates in the Bay Area have also declined but remain higher than in 2020. The US surpassed 500,000 COVID-19 deaths this week.

Estimated transmission rates in the Bay Area have been below 1 (0.63 to 0.78), so cases are decreasing. Bay Area ICU capacity is up at 25% as of February 23. Alameda County’s new vaccination dashboard shows that nearly 19% of residents ages 16 and over have received at least one dose as of February 24. 

We need to continue to wear masks, keep distance and get vaccinated as soon as we can, especially with more infectious variants identified in the Bay Area.

The California variants have been found to be dominant in the Bay Area, more infectious (by ~35%) and associated with increased ICU and death rates in two UCSF studies reported on February 22, one by the Unidos en Salud group and one by Dr. Charles Chiu’s sequencing lab. The South African variant was reported on February 10 in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Please see below for more prevention tips. It’s a race against mutants! 

Promising new vaccine outcomes data from nursing homes in Alameda County show major reductions in outbreaks and a 74% decrease in deaths after vaccine roll-out. 

New vaccine safety data from the CDC on February 19 found that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were safe and side effects were rare. Nearly 14 million vaccinations were tracked and found that of the adverse events reported (injection site pain, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches), 91 percent of those cases were not serious.

The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is undergoing FDA review this week and may be approved as early as February 27. New data presented to the FDA shows that the vaccine was 66% effective overall globally, 72% effective overall in the US against moderate to severe COVID-19. It was 100% effective against hospitalizations and death at least 28 days after vaccination. While efficacy against moderate disease was more variable, the high efficacy against the most critical disease, including in South Africa is reassuring. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine, can be stored in normal temperature refrigerators for at least 3 months and only requires one dose, reaching 100% protection against hospitalization and death 28 days after the single dose. 

Vaccinations are available now for health care workers, nursing home residents and people over 65. Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have also begun vaccinating essential workers in education/child care, emergency services and food/agriculture became eligible for vaccines under Phase 1b Tier 1.  

This week the FEMA mobile vaccine unit (see photo) partnered with Native American Health Center and Resilient Fruitvale (La Familia, including Homies and La Clínica) to provide outreach, education and easier-access vaccinations to people living in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. The partnership has provided 250-500 vaccine doses each day and hopes to extend and continue this service.

Other new vaccine access points that have opened up this month include: the Alameda County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site,  the Oakland Coliseum mass vaccination site, CVS pharmacies and Rite Aid pharmacies. Please see additional details below.  

Providers are encouraged to talk with patients and clients about vaccinations to combat misinformation and address concerns. Communities of color continue to turn to their trusted health providers for counsel, and providers are changing minds about vaccinations. The ICD-10 code Z71.89 may be used for vaccine counseling done in medical provider visits. Dr. Sunny Lai from Highland’s HIV clinic compiled Guidance for talking with patients about vaccines and FAQs for PLWH (click to download the PDF).

People needing medical care for any condition are still encouraged to seek care as our clinics and hospitals remain open with strict safety protocols to take care of all people.

Community Vaccine Spotlights

Moisés Cruz Jáuregui, EBGTZ, dice: “Una vacuna significa tener la posibilidad de prevenir una enfermedad. El COVID19 ha lastimado mucho nuestra comunidad y a la vez nos ha enseñado lo fuertes que podemos ser juntos. Tuve la oportunidad de recibir la vacuna y me siento muy agradecido y afortunado por mi mismo y por la comunidad con la trabajo. Cuando tengan la oportunidad, aprovechenla y opten por protegerse y proteger a los que aman!”

Vincent Williams, Oakland LGBTQ Center, says: “The idea of getting a vaccination was very scary for me. Being a person of color. But seeing that I could take potential steps in protecting myself out weighed my skepticism.  I had some side effects from the first shot. But the second was a breeze. I am proud, and glad to say, ‘I got vaccinated!'”

Jesse Brooks, Community Advocate and EBGTZ Advisory Board Chair, says: “Being vaccinated was important to me, I can’t wait to get back to some resemblance of normalcy. I miss my family, and especially my 86-year-old mother.  The worst for me have been all the deaths, bringing up PTSD from the early years of HIV. It’s been challenging living in daily fear of contracting COVID-19 or worse, passing it on to loved ones. As a community leader I felt the demonstration to the community and my family was important, knowing the mistrust that exists and knowing that it’s a challenge to put those fears to rest. I also felt I was at increased risk because of my age and comorbidity of diabetes.”

Vaccine eligibility and access

As of February 24, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have opened eligibility to all people ages 65 and over as well as workers in health care, education/child care, emergency services, and food/agriculture. Solano County continues to prioritize vaccinations for health care workers, people in nursing homes and people over the age of 65. CA vaccine priority groups are defined here

Alameda County is also prioritizing vaccine appointment invitations within these groups by direct contact exposure and disproportionate risk due to limited vaccine supplies. Family care givers also now qualify for vaccines as health care workers in Alameda County as of February 5. Family care givers must provide an attestation letter that documents that they provide hands-on care for a person with a disabling condition that puts them at risk for severe COVID-19.

Starting March 15, Californians with high-risk health conditions will become eligible: “healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the severe health conditions included in this provider bulletin.” Please see the graphic below. HIV, regardless of CD4 or immunocompromised status, is not one of the qualifying health conditions. 

To access vaccines, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Sign up for all the notification systems available to you: see links below.
  2. Check on your vaccine eligibility with your medical provider and/or county for when the vaccine is available for your age or occupation group. See links below.
  3. When vaccine is available for your group:
    • If the notification systems work, you should get a link for appointments when vaccine is available for your group.
    • Check online or call your medical provider periodically for appointment availability if you are eligible and haven’t gotten a notification or appointment yet.
    • If you cannot get a vaccine through your health provider, check if you can get a vaccine through a public (county) vaccination site.
    • Please see below for links to medical providers and public vaccine sites. Oaklandside has additional details on their website.
    • Don’t give up! (Even though it can be frustrating and confusing.) Keep checking and trying; eventually there will be enough vaccine.

All COVID-19 vaccines should be available at no cost.

Notifications for when vaccine is available for you:

There is no unified notification system, so you may choose to sign up for many different notification systems to stay informed about the full breadth of vaccination opportunities available to you:

Vaccines through medical providers:

Vaccines for the public at mass vaccination sites:

  • Oakland Coliseum: Click here for the MyTurn webpage to check eligibility and appointment availability. New toll-free phone line: 833-422-4255.
    • People in the region over age 65 and some frontline workers (health care workers, educators, food/agriculture and emergency workers) are eligible.
    • This site is run by FEMA and CA state emergency services and receives its own vaccine supply.
    • Both drive-through and walk-up appointments are available.
    • Appointment slots are added as supplies come in, starting in the early morning, so keep checking for availability if you first don’t succeed.
    • Click here to watch a video from NBC Bay Area on what to expect. People getting vaccinated during the first week report having a smooth and efficient experience.    
  • Alameda Fairgrounds: is open for Alameda County residents ages 65 and over. Click here for appointment info. 
  • The Berkeley Golden Gate Fields Buchanan parking lot site is open for people living in northern Alameda County. More info from Berkeleyside can be found here.

Vaccines through pharmacies:

Vaccines for the public through county vaccination sites:

  • Alameda County COVID-19 vaccine updates and notifications in English, Spanish/Español, Chinese/中文
    • Click here for how-to video.
    • As of February 24, people ages 65+, health care workers, nursing home residents and a limited number of essential workers in food/agriculture, education/child care and emergency services are eligible.
    • The county is prioritizing people in these neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus: 94601 and 94606 (San Antonio/Fruitvale), 94603 and 94621 (East Oakland), 94607 (West Oakland), 94578, 94541, and 94580 (Ashland/Cherryland) and 94544 (South Hayward).
    • Notifications will be sent out when vaccines are available for your group from county-supplied sites.
    • Kaiser, Sutter, Stanford and the Coliseum get their own supply, so check with them separately.
    • Health care workers need to sign up as “health care providers” to get notifications.
    • City of Berkeley vaccine notifications: click here to register
  • Contra Costa County COVID-19 vaccine updates and appointments
    • As of February 24, appointments are available for people ages 65+ and workers in health care, education/childcare, food/agriculture, and emergency services. Please click here and go to “making an appointment.”      
    • To bring equity-related concerns to Contra Costa County’s attention, click here.
  • Solano County vaccine updates, notifications and access points
    • As of February 24, health care workers, people ages 75+ and people 65+ with medical conditions are eligible for vaccinations.
    • Please click here and scroll to the bottom to see info on where to access vaccines.

Vaccine appointments are still difficult to access due to limited and uneven vaccine supplies, a fragmented health care system, and a confusing eligibility system. For example, one medical provider may have enough supply to vaccinate people ages 65+ while another only has enough to vaccinate people ages 75+. In addition, while essential workers in education/child care, food/ag and emergency services are “eligible” in Alameda County, the county has an internal priority sequences to invite sub-groups of these essential workers based on exposure, age, uninsured status and zip codes at highest risk. The Oakland Coliseum mass vaccination site is bringing in thousands of more vaccines to the region and will hopefully streamline availability.

The CDC has updated their quarantine guidance for people who are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19 in community settings: “People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.”

Who is eligible for vaccines now?

Bay Area counties are following CA state guidelines on vaccine prioritization, which were updated on February 1. Alameda County additionally uses the following criteria to determine whom to invite to make appointments at county vaccination sites through their notification system:

People living with HIV and COVID-19 vaccines

Currently all people living with HIV (PLWH) are recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible by age, work exposures and/or underlying conditions. The approved vaccines are not live vaccines and are considered safe for people living with HIV regardless of CD4 count. A diagnosis of HIV alone, regardless of immune status, is not one of the qualifying medical conditions for vaccines under the California’s vaccine guidelines listed here. There is emerging data that people living with HIV and CD4 counts less than 200 are at greater risk for hospitalizations and death, so consider prioritizing outreach, education and vaccinations for this potentially more-at-risk group. 

The Moderna vaccine trial included 179 PLWH and the Pfizer trial included 196 PLWH but data on these sub-groups has not been reported separately yet. There is currently no recommendation to check antibody levels for people living with HIV after completing vaccination. We are not sure yet how much commercially available SARS-CoV2 antibody tests such as at Quest and LabCorp check for protective levels of neutralizing spike antibodies generated by the vaccines, but providers and patients may discuss checking for spike IgG antibody levels two or more weeks after the second vaccine dose while we await more data.

Help the vaccine roll-out effort!

Transmission rates (Re) continue to be less than 1, which means cases are decreasing. As of February 22, the transmission rates were 0.63 in Alameda County, 0.78 in Contra Costa and 0.74 in Solano County, and 0.62 statewide. Our goal is to support the vaccine roll-out, masking, distancing, staying outdoors and avoiding gatherings to keep transmission rates less than 1.

Alameda County data as of February 24:

Contra Costa County data as of February 24:

Solano County data as of February 24:

SF Chronicle, 2/24/21: COVID-19 daily cases and deaths in the Bay Area. 

Disparities: new data and studies

CDPH CA State COVID-19 dashboard 2/24/21: Latinx and Black/African American Californians continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

In Alameda County, while case rates continue to fall from their January peak among all race/ethnicity groups, Latinx people are still more than 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than white people. Black/African American residents are nearly 2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to their white neighbors. 

Alameda County vaccination rates by race/ethnicity show that Latinx, Black/African American and Asian residents are less likely to have been vaccinated compared to white residents. A vaccination site at Fremont High School in East Oakland found that allowing for drop-in and walk-up vaccinations increased vaccination rates among Black and Latinx residents. The County will be advocating for more walk-up vaccination opportunities located in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. 

A new nationwide study of COVID-19 in children found that among the 539 patients with MIS-C and 577 patients with severe COVID-19, patients with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) were more likely than those with severe COVID-19 to be 6 to 12 years old, be Black/African American, and have severe cardiovascular or mucocutaneous involvement and more extreme inflammation.

A new study from UCSF found that pandemic-related unemployment caused 30,000 additional deaths in US. Attributable deaths were disproportionately high among Black/African Americans, men, and those with lower educational attainment.

A recent opinion article by Ana Delgado, a nurse midwife and Assistant Director of Inpatient Obstetrics at SF General, describes the importance of tackling white supremacy in healthcare and embodying reproductive justice during the pandemic. 

A new CDC study shows that people who are LGBTQ+ have higher rates of health conditions associated with serious COVID-19 illness compared to people who are heterosexual. 

A modeling study investigating transmission rates (Rt) by age group found that people ages 20-49 are likely sustaining COVID-19 transmission throughout most of the US. The 20-49 age groups were the only ones with transmission rates above 1 through October 2020 (Rt= 1.3-1.4). Targeting prevention interventions, including vaccines, in these age groups is critical for getting this pandemic under control. 

Harm reduction tips and resources

Promising real-world vaccination data is showing signs that vaccinated people have lower likelihood of transmitting the virus to others. The early data shows that vaccinated people are less likely to get asymptomatic infection (3360%) and lower viral loads when infected (4x decreases). In turn, lower viral loads and asymptomatic infection are linked to less viral spread. 

What does this mean in practice? (based on data above and Dr. Monica Gandhi’s expert opinion)

  • Vaccinated people with vaccinated people: get together without restrictions.
  • Vaccinated people around unvaccinated people and general public: keep on masks and distancing for now until we have more data (early data is promising that the risk of transmission from a vaccinated person is very low). 
  • Unvaccinated people around unvaccinated people: keep all usual restrictions with masks, distancing, staying outdoors, avoiding crowds. 

The CDC released a new study of COVID-19 outbreaks in gyms and urges mask wearing for people going to gyms, and to keep the masks on when they exercise as well as remain 6 feet or more apart from others.

Maximizing mask protection

With evidence of the highly infectious U.K. and South African variants circulating in the East Bay, we may be wondering if we should increase our prevention efforts.

Wearing two masks on top of each other (double-masking) and 3+ layered masks can provide more protection so long as you can keep them tight on your face. A new mask study by the CDC demonstrates that tight-fitting multilayered masks and double-masking can decrease exposure to aerosols by up to 95%.

Before you go out, please make sure your mask set up is comfortable and breathable enough to keep on your face! No matter how many layers a mask has, it will not be useful if you can’t keep it covering your nose and mouth.

Here are the qualities that make masks more protective, which we recommend using in indoor public settings (see higher/highest risk settings in our infographic below):

  • Use tightly-woven fabric or non-woven material, like in surgical masks.
  • Use multiple layers:
    • 2 layers provide decent protection and 3 or more layers provide maximal protection.
    • A non-woven layer, such as a disposable surgical-type mask or filter layer can help repel droplets.
    • You can double-mask by using a fitted cloth mask with a disposable surgical-type mask, like in the diagram.
    • Consider adding a face shield and/or goggles in the highest risk settings.
  • Make it fit tight:
    • Use tight/snug cloth masks.
    • Reduce top gaps by using masks with adjustable nose wires.
    • Reduce gaps in ear loop masks by tying knots near the sides. (video here)
    • Make sure the mask has a tight seal all around, over your nose, sides of your mouth and under your chin.
    • In high risk work settings, get fit-tested for an N95 mask (the gold standard in protective masks).
    • Keep in mind that KN95 masks are not fit-tested and are less protective than N95 masks. Treat them like surgical masks.

References: Diagrams from Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021 by the CDC COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and …Importance of Face Masks for COVID-19 by Monica Gandhi and Linsey C. Marr. Scientific references for these masking tips are located here.

Table summarizing COVID-19 harm reduction strategies
Our summary of COVID prevention research is constantly updated with new studies. 

Our COVID-19 prevention and harm reduction infographic is available in English and Spanish! Please download them here in English and here in Spanish and share with your clients, coworkers, friends and family! To download printable PDF versions, click here for the PDF in English and click here for the PDF in Spanish

Free COVID testing sites: Click here for Alameda County, Contra Costa County and Solano County testing sites.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, we all need to stay home when we can and when we go out:

  • Wear masks and glasses,
  • Stay outdoors whenever possible,
  • Avoid crowds and maintain at least six feet distance from others,
  • Sanitize or wash hands frequently, and
  • Stay home when sick.

Other updates and opportunities:

Trainings and webinars:

  • The 2021 Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit is set to be held virtually on March 30-31. Registration is open until March 19. Register here.
  • IAS-USA hosted a live webcast last week called “COVID-19 Meets HIV”: Variants, Vaccines, Health Disparities, and Other Fast-Evolving Issues?” Recording is now available on demand here.

Funding Opportunities:

  • The Alameda County Public Health Department Office of HIV Prevention has posted a Request for Proposals for HIV prevention services in Alameda County. Bidders conferences will be held on February 18th and the deadline for required letters of intent is February 19 at 5pm. Please contact Steven Gibson at steven.gibson@acgov.org with any questions.
  • The California Department of Public Health Office of AIDS has released two requests for applications:  Strategic Rapid ART and Project Empowerment. Learn more about the opportunities here.

Job opportunities:

  • Partnerships for Trauma Recovery is currently hiring for a Social Worker, an African Communities Counselor, and a Director of Client Care. The position descriptions can be viewed here.
  • LifeLong Medical Care is looking for a HIV Case Manager at their East Oakland Health Center. The Case Manager will provide comprehensive individualized social services to people living with HIV (PLWH) in Alameda County. Learn more about the position here.
  • Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) is looking for a Communications Officer, an Administrative Specialist and an Interim Development Director. Learn more about the positions here.
  • The Center for Environmental Health is looking for a Community Health Cases Manager to work with community-led organizations and help manage and guide our community exposure litigation. Learn more about the position here.
  • Alliance for Girls and Betti Ono Art Gallery have collaborated to create Radical Visions of Safety from Our Home to the Streets. It is an open call for art to any girl or gender expansive youth who would be interested in sharing their artistic vision of radical safety. Participants who submit their artwork will have the opportunity to win up to $1,000 for their submission. Artists can submit their artwork to the Radical Visions of Safety Open Call form. Artwork must be submitted by 11:59 on Feb 28, 2021. The open call website has more information on submission guidelines and recommendations.

Community resources:

HIV services during COVID-19: Click here for Contra Costa HIV services and see our online directory for Alameda County HIV services.

If your organization is in Alameda County and needs COVID-related supplies or staffing, please go to the Emergency Medical Services website to request PPE and testing supplies and request staffing.

Please follow and share our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  

A note about this webpage: COVID data updates will be posted to this page on Wednesdays in the late afternoon during non-holiday weeks. New studies will be continuously added to our summary of COVID-19 harm reduction strategies. The emailed HIV+COVID-19 update newsletters are now on a bi-weekly schedule of 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.

Official Alameda County COVID-19 weekly updates are accessible on the county website and will not longer be posted on this page. You can sign up to receive the Alameda County weekly COVID-19 newsletter by emailing Jamie.Yee@acgov.org

Opportunities to help:

  • California Health Corps – Use this link to register for the California Health Corps which is a State program for trained medical and healthcare workers to sign up and provide availability to assist in the COVID-19 response. 
  • Medical Surge Volunteer Sign Up – Use this link to register as a volunteer with the County of Alameda to assist with the COVID-19 response. Medically and non-medically trained volunteers will be needed. Click here for more information. 

Alameda County guidance:

Click here for all current approved businesses and activities.

Download links for Alameda County community or business guidance on: Face coverings, social bubbles, childcare and camps for all children,  graduations, vehicular gatherings, construction, curbside retail pickups, manufacturing and warehousing, personal services, youth extracurricular and general outdoor recreation activities.

Download links for Alameda County clinical guidance on: COVID-19 testing, antigen testing, isolation orders in 7 languages for all people getting tested, reporting COVID-19 cases, Project Roomkey isolation housing, home health agencies, remdesivir allocations, routine vaccines , reporting pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, resumption of non-urgent medical services, testing in Skilled Nursing Facilities and COVID-19 vaccinations.

If your organization is in Alameda County and needs COVID-related supplies or staffing, please go to the Emergency Medical Services website to request testing supplies, antigen test kits and/or PPE, and request staffing.

Looking for COVID-19 testing?

  • Alameda County COVID testing sites: This webpage includes community-based sites offering free testing for anyone with symptoms, including people without health insurance.
  • Contra Costa County free drive-through or walk-in COVID testing
  • Solano County free testing sites
  • Please check the listing for updates and call the testing site before you leave your home/shelter/camp/car to make sure they are open for testing, you are eligible, and register if needed.
  • If you don’t have a provider and have COVID symptoms: In Alameda County, call Alameda Health System 510-437-8500 for a phone screen and guidance. In Contra Costa County, call 844-729-8410. In Solano County, the county COVID warmline is 707-784-8988.
  • If you’re having difficulty breathing and unstable, please go to your nearest emergency room.