I hope you and your loved ones are hanging in there as we contend with wildfires in addition to COVID. Big appreciations to our firefighters, first responders and health professionals during these challenging times.
In this newsletter, you’ll find information on these topics:
- New multilingual, multicultural COVID Test Site in Chinatown
- Red Flag Warning (UPDATE: Cancelled Monday morning)
- Spare the Air Alert through Wednesday
- Emergency Preparedness
New COVID Test Site in Chinatown
Supporting Multilingual, Multicultural Care
Last Tuesday, August 18, Asian Health Services and Alameda County launched a new multilingual, multicultural COVID-19 test site in Chinatown at Madison Park, long a beloved cultural keeping spot for our API neighbors. The free public site features testing and support services in 12 Asian languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog and Mongolian. See news coverage from KPIX 5.
Tests are available to everyone. Payment or insurance are not required, and immigration status will not be asked. The test site is open Tuesdays from noon to 7 pm and Thursdays and Fridays from 8 am to 4 pm. People who want to get tested can make an appointment at www.color.com/AHS. For help, people can call the multilingual line at Asian Health Services at (510) 735-3222.
I was so pleased to support the opening of this test site and join the public launch. This test site is a place for total care and is a model for the entire state. By partnering with a community health center and several community organizations, this site offers culturally competent and linguistically accessible COVID testing, along with critical resources and referrals for a range of issues, and information about the Census and voter registration.
I also got tested and got my results the following day, which were negative. Please be vigilant by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home as much as possible. If we all follow the County Health Orders, we can slow the spread, protect our community and eventually re-open our schools and businesses.
Red Flag Warning (UPDATE 8/24 9:30am - Red Flag Warning Cancelled)
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the entire Bay Area until 5 PM on Monday, August 24 (UPDATE 8/24 9:30am - Red Flag Warning Cancelled). NWS forecasts: “erratic gusty outflow winds can lead to potentially dangerous and unpredictable fire behavior on existing wildfires while additional lightning strikes may result in new wildfire starts.”
In addition to the Oakland Fire Department’s normal operations, firefighters are conducting roving fire patrols in the Oakland Hills. These resources will augment the department’s normal hill company patrols that are out during high fire danger.
Additionally, a State of California Office of Emergency Services engine is pre-positioned in Oakland, and OFD crews will be on stand-by; patrols and staffing may be lengthened or shortened depending on conditions.
OFD Fire Inspectors will also be patrolling Joaquin Miller Park, which is closed on Red Flag Days, to inform the public present at the park of the closure request that they leave the park. The park closure shall be lifted once the Red Flag conditions have subsided and the National Weather Service has lifted the warning for our regional area.
Oakland Fire will continue to collaborate with county partners for mutual aid. Twenty-seven total firefighters are deployed at the CZU lightening complex.
Help Reduce the Chance of Wildfire in Oakland
- In accordance with Oakland Municipal Code, Joaquin Miller Park is closed to the public on Red Flag days. Signs will be posted at all park entrances and trails regarding the closure.
- Other parks, trails, and recreational facilities may also be closed to visitors due to the high risk of fire.
- Barbeques are prohibited in all City parks when there is a Red Flag warning in effect.
- The Oakland Fire Department urges extreme caution, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.
Get Emergency Alerts on Your Phone or Email
Get alerted about emergencies by signing up for AC Alert to receive phone calls and messages on your mobile, home, or work phone; by text message; and by email. AC Alert will provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of emergencies, including fires, severe weather, earthquakes, unexpected road closures, and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.
AC Alert is a unified emergency notification system for Alameda County residents, businesses and visitors. An AC Alert subscription is free, and all residents and business owners are strongly encouraged to sign up.
What is a Red Flag Warning?
The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. Firefighters will raise red flags at fire stations to warn residents of extreme fire weather, as warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.
A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.
Spare the Air Alert Through Wednesday
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is extending a Spare the Air Alert for wildfire smoke through Wednesday, August 26, which bans burning wood or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors. Wildfire smoke from numerous fires inside and outside of the Bay Area is causing elevated levels of particulate pollution. Elderly persons, children, individuals with respiratory illnesses, and unsheltered persons are particularly susceptible and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.
Check air quality with the EPA’s Air Quality Index (airnow.gov) and be sure to use the map to find your closest sensor for the most accurate reading. Another resource is Purple Air which offers real-time air quality monitoring.
Stay Safe When It’s Smoky
- Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
- Keep indoor air cool or visit an air-cooling center (see these heat resources).
- Set home and car ventilation systems on re-circulate to prevent drawing in outside air.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water.
- Limit or avoid outdoor recreational and sports activities.
Resources for Unsheltered Residents
During air quality events, Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless has N95 masks available for outreach providers who can distribute them to unsheltered people experiencing homelessness. Please contact [email protected] or call (510) 891-8950 to pick up masks. County, city, outreach workers and community volunteers may distribute N95 air masks to unsheltered persons at risk, if air quality is projected to be at dangerous levels (red) for a sustained period of time. Masks provide limited, but important protection to people in open air -- however, it's best to stay indoors. My District 2 Office also has some N95 masks available for homeless residents in our neighborhoods; please email me at [email protected] for assistance.
There are many resources to support us in being prepared for emergencies. Here are a few helpful links: