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COVID In Oakland: Pandemic Sending Additional Trash Into Bay Area Waterways

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- The Bay Area received its first significant rainfall in months this week. While early rains often wash a lot of debris into San Francisco Bay, COVID is introducing additional unusual trash to the water.

As the rain water drains through cities, it is carrying much of that COVID-related trash to the Bay.

"This year, the problem is even worse because there's so much extra trash being generated cause of COVID," said David Lewis, the Executive Director of Save the Bay. "There are gloves, mask and much more Styrofoam and plastic from the takeout food."

Face mask are floating down drainage canals, washing up on the banks of channels near the Oakland Coliseum. Rotting gloves are getting stuck in thorny grass. That pandemic-related trash is in addition to the increased number of food containers that litter the shore.

"It's great that people are protecting themselves with PPE, but when this trash gets out on the street, it goes directly into the Bay," said Lewis.

East Bay Municipal Utility District spokesperson Andrea Pook says mask and gloves are also showing up in the Bay Area's sewer systems.

"People are flushing some of these items, so its really an important reminder for people to only flush the three Ps. Masks and gloves do not go into the toilet," said Pook.

To keep San Francisco Bay beautiful and to ensure sewer pipes keep flowing, authorities are asking residents to properly dispose of PPE in the trash where it belongs.

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