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COVID Berkeley: Mayor Hopes City Can Dodge COVID Surge, Avoid New Stay-at-Home Orders

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- In Berkeley, the city has been able to keep COVID-19 numbers low with only nine deaths reported so far. The mayor says it's a community effort and it will need that same commitment to get through what is expected to be another tough month.

In Berkeley and elsewhere in the Bay Area, people are still enjoying outdoor dining as this region so far is exempt from Governor Newsom's new stay-at-home orders. But, if cases surge as they are expected to, this will be one of many things banned.

"If we do not take this seriously in the next few day, weeks and months, more people are going to die and it's going to be even harder for our economy to recover," Mayor Jesse Arreguin said.

Mayor Arreguin adds the pandemic has already dealt a huge blow to restaurants, in turn cutting deep into the city's tax revenue. This as Berkeley's positivity rate sits below two percent and averages just about 11 cases a day. The mayor credits the low numbers to several factors including the city's implementation of programs to help the unhoused and others in need during the pandemic. But, he says, the biggest factor is the community fostering a culture to take COVID seriously.

"We're not out of it yet. We're going to be entering a very dark period. We're expecting more people to be infected so now is the time to re-commit and redouble our efforts to fight COVID-19," Mayor Arreguin said.

The ICU capacity in the Bay Area as a region is currently teetering at roughly 25 percent which is the highest in the state. But, as the surge continues, people are bracing themselves for round two of the stay-at-home order.

"I think hospitalizations is a good guide to determine this kind of thing," Hal Sternberg, a Berkeley resident, said.

"Although I don't like it, I would be supportive of doing whatever we need to do to," said Tish Wetzel from Concord.

Berkeley is in Alameda County but the city has its own health department which, the mayor says, has helped to focus on potential outbreaks and carry out contact tracing.

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