What you need to know about coronavirus in Berkeley right now

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Image: CDC

Berkeleyside is keeping this post updated with the latest news about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Berkeley. Hear of something relevant? Please let us know. Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel, Sarah Han, Natalie Orenstein, Emilie Raguso and Tracey Taylor contributed to this report.

Friday, March 27

BERKELEY RETREATS FROM BANNING CURBSIDE CANNABIS SALES Dr. Lisa Hernandez amended her order requiring cannabis businesses to stop in-store sales and revert to delivery only. Late Friday she said the businesses could once again offer curbside pick-up.

BERKELEYSIDE COVID-19 FAQ IS POSTED What is an essential business? Can I take my kid to the park? Is the DMV open? Where can I get relief money? Answers here to these and more of your frequently asked questions.

CRAFTERS, TAKE NOTE Some hospitals are using fabric masks over N95 masks as they can be removed and sanitized. Other agencies want them for their work with the elderly or the homeless. Here’s what we know.


Thursday, March 26

BERKELEY FIREFIGHTER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 A Berkeley firefighter tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, according to a city news alert. “Our emergency Operations Center and Fire Department have been preparing for such an exposure since January with the goal of reducing transmission amongst first responders and the community,” the alert said, adding that the best way for the public to protect first responders is to stay home. “This slows the spread of the virus and allows paramedics and hospitals to receive patients at a manageable rate,” the city said.

CITY ORDERS CANNABIS BUSINESSES TO SWITCH TO DELIVERY-ONLY The companies had been allowing customers inside and offering curbside delivery. This edict could force most to close their doors.

Tuesday, March 24

DOGS MUST NOW BE ON LEASH The East Bay Regional Park District has told dog owners they must keep their pets on leash at all 73 of its parks, effective immediately. On Tuesday, Berkeley also closed its dog parks. There’s still open space in the city that dog owners can use, but rules do apply.

CITY STEPS UP RULES TO ENFORCE SOCIAL DISTANCING This week, the city of Berkeley is closing its basketball courts and tot lots and working to set up eight new trailers where homeless people who have been infected with COVID-19, or exposed to it, can be quarantined and get medical help without putting other campers in danger. See what else the city has been doing as part of its emergency response.

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LABS THAT TEST FOR COVID-19 MUST REPORT ALL RESULTS The city of Berkeley and public health officers from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties issued an order Tuesday to get a more complete picture of how the virus is spreading through the Bay Area. Currently, labs only report positive results. Now academic and commercial labs must also report negative and inconclusive results and information that will assist health officers in locating those who are infected. “The more comprehensive information will improve health officials’ understanding of the rates of infection and the location of possible infection clusters,” stated a city press release.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT N95 MASKS When to wear one. Where to donate one. Where to buy one. 

MAYOR SHARES COVID-19 RESOURCE LIST Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín has been updating a long list on his website of the diverse resources available to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The list includes information on new laws and regulations, as well as places to get free food, public transit availability, grocery store hours for vulnerable populations and more.

AC TRANSIT RIDES NOW FREE TO PROTECT DRIVERS AC Transit bus rides are now free, effective as of Monday, March 23. The decision was made to protect the health of drivers: The transit agency says most passengers must now board through the rear doors to facilitate social distancing. The front door is now only for riders with mobility devices, special needs or carts, or who request access to an ADA ramp.

Monday, March 23

THE BERKELEY RELIEF FUND HAS RAISED $556,000 SO FAR Sunday’s video-a-thon launch of the Berkeley Relief Fund, hosted by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and author Michael Lewis, drew dozens of tax-deductible donations that will go to help small businesses, arts organizations, and renters during the financial crisis caused by COVID-19. Bayer US, which has a campus in Berkeley, donated $250,000. The principals of Wareham Development donated $50,000. The city of Berkeley had already pledged $3 million. Organizers hope to raise $6 million. Berkeley’s office of economic development is finalizing the grant requirements and criteria. The funds will be equally distributed to the three categories, said Jacquelyn McCormick, a senior aide to Arreguín. Numerous people impacted made videos about their plight.

KAISER NURSES TO PROTEST THE LACK OF PROTECTIVE GEAR Nurses around the region are reporting a lack of N95 masks, which limit the spread of COVID-19. Instead, many have had to use surgical masks, which are less protective, to see patients. Kaiser nurses will hold a demonstration about the issue outside the Oakland hospital at 6:30 p.m.

COVID-19 NUMBERS CONTINUE TO INCREASE Alameda County (excluding Berkeley) now has 112 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and there’s been one death. Berkeley reported 10 cases as of Monday. The Bay Area is up to 860 known cases and 14 deaths. The state says more than 26,000 tests had been done as of Sunday.

Saturday, March 21

FIRST COMMUNITY-SPREAD CASE REPORTED IN BERKELEY An 80-year-old man reportedly has the first lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in Berkeley that was contracted through “community spread.”

Friday, March 20

OPEN BUSINESSES Businesses still open under the current shelter-in-place order are doing their best to spread the word. The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has posted this crowd-sourced list and the Downtown Berkeley Association has a list of businesses in that neighborhood. Nosh is keeping this list of open restaurants as up-to-date as possible.

CONFIRMED BERKELEY CASES GROW There are now five lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkeley, up from three, but that does not reflect the true risk, public health officials say. With community spread happening throughout the Bay Area, the risk may be in anyone you see, the city says. See the latest figures in Berkeleyside’s “by the numbers” post on COVID-19.

Thursday, March 19

BERKELEY HALTS EVICTIONS FOR NOW On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council unanimously placed a moratorium on evictions — for both residential and commercial tenants — during the city’s declared state of emergency. The decision follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order the day before allowing cities to temporarily halt evictions during the COVID-19 crisis. The Alameda County Superior Court earlier in the week ordered a stay on all pending evictions through April 8 too.

BART TO REDUCE SERVICE HOURS BART reports ridership has declined by 90% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. As a result, the transit agency said it is “taking swift action to reduce operating costs” and is reducing its service hours. Starting Monday, March 23, service will run weekdays from 5 a.m.-9 p.m. (currently service goes until midnight). And starting Saturday, March 28, weekend service will run 8 a.m.-9 p.m. (currently Saturday service is 6 a.m.-midnight and Sunday is 8 a.m.-midnight). Train frequency won’t change, BART said.

CITY RELAXES PARKING RULES (FOR NOW) The city of Berkeley says it won’t enforce parking rules related to meters and other time limits. School zones are also off the enforcement list. Tickets will still be issued for street-sweeping violations, painted curbs, fire hydrant access and the like.

COUNCILWOMAN OFFERS SKYPE “OFFICE HOURS” Berkeley council members have had to cancel their regular in-person office hours recently in light of the current public health crisis and guidelines around social distancing. West Berkeley Councilwoman Cheryl Davila has invited the community to connect with her on Skype on Friday evening. Davila will be available from 5-7 p.m., she said in an email to her constituents. People can join the call through a link or call in to 213-279-1690. The conference ID is 664683521. Have questions? Email Davila’s office.

NEW STATE WEBSITE ABOUT COVID-19 California has launched a new “one-stop” website about COVID-19. The goal of the site is to offer public service announcements to boost awareness about the ongoing pandemic. Quickly see guidance about what to do if you have symptoms and how to apply for unemployment, paid family leave, small business help and other assistance, along with other important resources.

Wednesday, March 18

UC BOTANICAL GARDEN CLOSES In an announcement posted on its website, Lew Feldman, executive director of the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, expressed disappointment at having to close the garden during the coronavirus pandemic. They had hoped to keep it open, free of charge, as a refuge to offer “peace and solace to many in these times of great turmoil.” The garden is being maintained and its blooms and wildlife can be followed on social media.

Tuesday, March 17

EAST BAY PARKS WILL STAY OPEN A temporary closure of East Bay Regional Park District sites resulted in widespread confusion among hikers and runners, as well as a number of parking tickets outside Tilden. But EBRPD said its parks and trails will reopen in the next day or two and for the duration of the shelter-in-place order. Visitor centers, bathrooms and other facilities will stay closed.

ALAMEDA COUNTY COURTS HAVE CLOSED The Superior Court of Alameda County says it will cease most operations and close to the public until April 8. The court hopes to be able to accept new restraining order applications and will extend existing ones for 30 days. According to a notice from the court, the decision was made following Monday’s shelter-in-place order. The court ordered the stay of all evictions until it reopens.

EMERGENCY COUNCIL MEETING The City Council has called an emergency meeting to discuss tenant protections from eviction, possible financial relief for local businesses and arts organizations, and other pressing issues linked to the impacts of COVID-19 in Berkeley. The meeting is set for Tuesday (tonight) at 6 p.m.

KEEP UP WITH EAST BAY FOOD NEWS Berkeleyside’s food section Nosh has started a food-focused news feed that it will continue to update with the latest info about how the novel coronavirus is affecting restaurants, chefs, food services and diners in the East Bay. All food-related news will be featured on that feed going forward. Send tips to nosh@berkeleyside.com.

PARKING ENFORCEMENT WILL CONTINUE The city is still ticketing vehicles with parking violations, said Matthai Chakko, city of Berkeley spokesman: “While enforcement continues as normal for now, we’ll be using [certain factors] to determine how best to use all of our resources to increase public safety and the health of our community.”

Monday, March 16

BAY AREA ORDERED TO ‘SHELTER IN PLACE’ Health officials across the Bay Area, including Berkeley, issued a sweeping order Monday requiring all residents to mostly shelter in place and shutting down all “non-essential” business in hopes of stemming the spread of COVID-19. The city of Berkeley website has a comprehensive FAQ about the order and what it actually means to shelter in place.

TESTING SET TO RAMP UP Testing for COVID-19 will “ramp up” in the near future, Bay Area health officials said during Monday’s shelter-in-place announcement. Commercial labs and those from the academic sector are coming online, which will bolster the capacity of testing that was previously dependent on the public laboratory system. The “decentralized” approach will allow officials to identify and report more cases, which will mean that local numbers will grow. Testing to date has mostly focused on people in hospitals, rather than outpatient testing, officials said.

UPDATES TO MARKET HOURS, SERVICES Several markets have announced schedule and capacity changes due to the recent uptick in business: Berkeley Bowl is now open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily for “additional cleaning and stocking.” All Trader Joe’s locations have shortened daily hours to 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and are limiting customers to purchasing no more than two of the same item. Market Hall Foods is limiting the number of customers allowed into its stores at a time: 18 adults at Rockridge Market Hall, six adults at Hapuku Fish Shop and Marin Sun Farms, 10 adults at Market Hall Produce and 15 adults at Berkeley Market Hall. Berkeley Natural Grocery will close at 5 p.m. Monday; hours will then be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. until further notice.

SHELTER IN PLACE At 1 p.m., health officials from six counties, as well as from the city of Berkeley, will announce new restrictions on movement for the general population. Essentially, the order will require everyone to “shelter in place” at home other than to provide or receive essential services. Businesses will have to stop all non-essential operations (essentially close). Restaurants will be able to offer take-away service. Individual exercise and activity outside is allowed but no non-essential gatherings of any size outside of a private home will be permitted. All non-essential travel will be stopped. The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, through April 7. The order is coming from officials from Berkeley as well as Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Conta Costa, and Santa Clara counties. Homeless individuals are exempt.

Sunday, March 15

ALAMEDA COUNTY CASES DOUBLE Alameda County’s health department says it has 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up from seven as of Saturday. Other than the new figure, no further details were shared on the county’s public health website. The city of Berkeley, which has its own health division, has reported three. That brings the county total for both agencies to 18. Don’t miss the other stats we’re tracking. See a figure for us to add? Email Berkeleyside.

YMCA CLOSES UNTIL WEDNESDAY The downtown Berkeley branch of the YMCA — along with its other East Bay sites — has closed, but so far just through Wednesday, so directors can figure out the safest way to stay open, the gym announced in an email to members. “We need a few days to work with local health officials to see how we can best achieve our mission of advancing health in the midst of ever-changing regulations and recommendations. The closure also gives us time to evaluate the layout of equipment, how we can facilitate social distancing, and other best practices,” the email said.

Saturday, March 14

A BUSY SATURDAY UC Berkeley has reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and, starting Monday, the Berkeley Public Library will be closed. Alameda County Superior Court officials have also announced broad cutbacks in court services from Monday, March 16, through April 3. Many cases will be postponed on a rolling basis.

BERKELEY HAS THIRD CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASE The city of Berkeley says it now has a new case of COVID-19 to monitor. The patient was on the Grand Princess: “The three cases in Berkeley involve a traveler to an outbreak area and two people from the Grand Princess Cruise ship, one of whom tested positive this week after having been in isolation,” according to the city’s latest notice. On Saturday, Berkeleyside pulled together key resources and statistics on COVID-19, and also provided info on, and some reader suggestions for, local grocery shopping options.

Friday, March 13

BERKELEY HEALTH OFFICER ISSUES NEW GUIDELINES ON GATHERINGS Dr. Lisa Hernandez updated her guidelines to make them consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent executive order. She previously suggested people avoid “mass gatherings.” Now she recommends that people cancel or postpone gatherings of 250 or more people; smaller events where people cannot stay 6 feet away from one another; and those with more than 10 people who are 60 and up with chronic conditions.

SENIOR CENTERS TO CLOSE The city of Berkeley will close its two senior centers starting Monday, along with most city-sponsored events. Takeout lunches will still be available at the North Berkeley Senior Center (1900 Sixth St.) and the South Berkeley center (2939 Ellis St.) from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

SHOTGUN PLAYERS DELAYS OPENING OF HENRY V The company’s play was supposed to open March 19 but that has been delayed to April 5. The company will pay severance to performers for that fallow time.

LANDMARK THEATERS TO INSTITUTE 50% SEATING POLICY  The theater chain that runs the Shattuck Cinemas, California Theatre, Albany Twin and Piedmont Theatre will reduce the number of patrons allowed in each show starting Saturday to allow people to sit further apart. Additional cleaning has also been added.

BERKELEY SYMPHONY CANCELS PUBLIC CONCERTS The symphony won’t play the free family concert at Downtown BART Plaza that was scheduled for March 22. Sunday’s concert in Piedmont will be rescheduled. The symphony has also canceled its March 26 performance at Zellerbach Auditorium. That will not be rescheduled.

URBAN ADAMAH STOPS PUBLIC PROGRAMMING The community farm with Jewish values in West Berkeley has stopped its public programming and closed the farm to the public until the end of March.

CAL WILL CONTINUE REMOTE CLASSES ALL SEMESTER UC Berkeley students can officially head home. A few days after the university suspended in-person classes, switching mostly to online lectures and seminars, the campus has extended remote learning through the end of the semester. “Students will be able to choose where it is best for them to reside,” receiving reimbursement of their housing and dining fees if they leave, the university said. If in-person lessons do start again before the mid-May conclusion of the semester, students will still have the option of studying remotely. Research programs and student services will remain open.

AURORA THEATRE COMPANY CANCELS NEXT PLAY Aurora announced it won’t put on Joe Orton’s “Loot,” as planned. The play, currently in rehearsals, was supposed to run from April 3 to May 3.

FREIGHT & SALVAGE CANCELS PERFORMANCES The music venue has canceled all performances through April 7. Some have been rescheduled for later in the year. However, most of its classes and workshops will go on as scheduled. Many of the artists were the ones to cancel.

BERKELEY ART MUSEUM CLOSES After discontinuing film and other programs earlier this week, BAMPFA said it is closing its galleries through March 29.

CITY OFFICIALS SUPPORT BERKELEY BUSINESSES BY DINING OUT Restaurants, performance venues and small businesses are struggling as people practice social distancing. Mayor Jesse Arreguín and City Councilwoman Sophie Hahn are planning to eat at Revival Bar and Kitchen at 6 p.m. to show support for eateries. City Councilwoman Sophie Hahn called around 4 p.m. to say that she and Mayor Jesse Arrguín have been working so hard today to hone the city’s response to COVID-19 that they don’t have time for a sit-down dinner. They are doing take-out from Revival instead.

UC BERKELEY CANCELS CAL DAY The very popular day, where the university opens its doors to prospective freshmen and the community, won’t happen this year. It had been scheduled for April 18.

BERKELEY FREE CLINIC CLOSES In a tweet, the clinic announced it would close for three weeks because “as a clinic staffed by lay volunteers, we lack the gear, training, and knowledge to respond to COVID-19.”

NO SAT TEST AT BERKELEY HIGH The test, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, has been canceled.

THE BERKELEY SCHOOL CLOSES Starting Monday, this private school on University Avenue will shut down for three weeks, according to an email sent out by its board of trustees. The school’s Early Childhood Campus on Francisco will also close.

THE UC THEATRE POSTPONES SHOWS David Mayeri, president of the board of directors, said all March and April shows have been postponed. The theater hopes to reschedule.

Thursday, March 12

BERKELEY UNIFIED CANCELS CLASSES BUSD announced at about 8:30 p.m. that Berkeley High and BTA will close Friday over concerns of coronavirus spread. All other Berkeley schools will follow suit Monday.

WALDEN SCHOOL TO CLOSE BUT IT MAY NOT LAST Walden Center & School has announced it will close Friday “out of an abundance of caution.” Walden has not decided what it will do next week, according to an email from the school that a community member shared with Berkeleyside. Walden staff wrote that it had learned Thursday about a member of its school community who had “developed symptoms that could be consistent with Covid-19” earlier in the week. Staff wrote that Walden called Berkeley Public Health as soon as it became aware of the situation but the call “was interrupted by an emergency on their end, so [we] are waiting to hear back.” Walden said it expects to hear from public health staff Friday.

ALAMEDA COUNTY NOW HAS COMMUNITY SPREAD Alameda County public health officials have announced four new cases of COVID-19, and say two of them “are the first incidence of community-acquired transmission in Alameda County.” The county has public health staff that is separate from Berkeley, but the announcement is still significant. Alameda County now has seven confirmed cases, while the city of Berkeley has reported two: “Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Over eighty percent of individuals have mild disease,” the county reported, adding that there will be no additional information about these cases. Alameda County says it will update its website with any news. Again, these reports do not include anything happening in Berkeley, which has its own health division.

HABITOT TO CLOSE Habitot Children’s Museum will be closed from March 13-31. All the museum’s camps, classes, events and programs are canceled through the end of the month. Habitot’s executive director Gina Moreland told Berkeleyside that visitation has been less than half of what it was two weeks ago and the museum has experienced a drop in reservations for its spring break camp. Moreland and Habitot’s board made the decision to close, according to a statement Thursday, because they “believe this to be the socially responsible thing to do.”

BERKELEY FARMERS MARKETS REMAIN OPEN The Ecology Center will continue its three weekly farmers markets, but said it will continue to monitor both federal and local recommendations and guidelines daily. Food and Farming Program Director Carle Brinkman told Nosh the Ecology Center has shared best practices with its farmers, vendors and market partners and will be disinfecting “surfaces/objects” at the market regularly. The Ecology Center updated its website to include further information about precautions it is taking, including ceasing food sampling at the market and suspending “high touch activities,” like the Kids’ Patch.

BERKELEY REP CANCELS PERFORMANCES Berkeley Repertory Theatre has joined a rapidly growing list of venues calling off their concerts, plays and talks. All future performance of Berkeley Rep’s current play, Culture Clash (Still) in America, have been canceled, and the upcoming show, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, will be on hiatus until April 5, the venue announced.

BUSINESSES HIT HARD Theaters are selling fewer tickets and restaurants are seeing a significant drop in customers. A number of local restaurants are announcing a pause in on-site dining and focusing on delivery or counter service instead.

Wednesday, March 11

BAMPFA CANCELS EVENTS The UC Berkeley-run BAMPFA has canceled all its film screenings, tours and public programs, effective March 13-29, with possible extensions based on the latest public health conditions. The galleries are open.

CAL ATHLETICS LIMITS ATTENDANCE Attendance at Cal Athletics home events will be limited to essential personnel only, beginning March 11 and through March 29.

BOOK FESTIVAL WON’T HAPPEN The organizers of the popular two-day Bay Area Book Festival have decided to cancel their 2020 event so as not to risk spreading coronavirus. The sixth year of the festival was set to take place May 2-3 in downtown Berkeley. (Note: Berkeleyside is a media sponsor.)

NO MORE CAL PERFORMANCES Cal Performances has canceled all events through March 29. This includes Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Ticketholders will be automatically refunded, the UC Berkeley organization said. The decision was made in accordance with recommendations from local public health authorities regarding slowing the spread of COVID-19, and in conjunction with Cal’s decision to limit campus operations.

ALAMEDA COUNTY FOOD BANK ASKS FOR HELP The Alameda County Food Bank has an “urgent need” for volunteers Thursday, March 12, to help stuff emergency food bags and prepare food for its partners. The organization said it has increased its cleaning standards to ensure volunteers remain safe from the spread of COVID-19. The food bank has added “additional mid-day cleaning of high-trafficked and touched surfaces throughout the facility” on top of its normal sanitation procedures. More help is needed from March 16-20, too. Sign up on the food bank’s volunteer page.

CAL GREEKS SUSPEND ALL INTERFRATERNITY EVENTS On Wednesday afternoon, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) made the decision to suspend all events until March 29: “As of today, the IFC is suspending ALL IFC events, including social, philanthropy, fundraising, etc., for all IFC chapters regardless of the expected attendance. The suspension of all IFC events will last until March 29th.” At that time, the council “will make a determination to extend this suspension or adjust the suspension using the latest UC and CDC guidance.”

BERKELEY PUBLIC LIBRARY CANCELS EVENTS The library has announced it will cancel public events from March 12-31. This includes any use of library community meeting rooms as well as classes. One-on-one meetings, such as help with tax preparation, will continue, the library said Wednesday.

UC BERKELEY IS EERILY EMPTY With most classes moved online, the campus feels deserted. A Berkeleyside freelancer who attends UC Berkeley has shared an inside glimpse.

BERKELEY CITY COLLEGE CANCELS CLASSES The Peralta Community College District has canceled all face-to-face classes at Berkeley City College, College of the Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College starting Wednesday and lasting through Saturday, according to a notice from the college sent Wednesday morning. What happens next is less certain. The break will let teachers “attend trainings offered at their respective college and evaluate optional resources for potentially transitioning their classes to remote forms of instruction as needed,” according to the notice.

Peralta said it would continue to follow the guidance of health experts including the Alameda County Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health, as well as the CDC. Wednesday, the Peralta board of trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting to consider whether to change the academic calendar. The chancellor has recommended moving spring break to March 16-20 (it had been set for April 13-17), and adding a “flex day” March 30.

Remote classes for instructors who want to take that approach would begin March 23 and last through April 4, according to the notice, but they are not a mandate: “Faculty may continue to teach face-to-face, however, we strongly encourage faculty who can opt to use remote forms of instruction to do so.”

CORONAVIRUS LEADS TO CHANGES AT BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL, TOO Coronavirus was a recurring theme at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. As the meeting began, the mayor shared some new guidance to address public health concerns. Mayor Jesse Arreguín asked attendees to “maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and other people” to the extent possible. At the very least, he said, people should keep an empty seat between them. Three council members called in. The city also decided to limit capacity in the room to 100 people and will provide an overflow room at future meetings if needed. For public comment, the mayor said he would call up five speakers at a time. Those speakers should maintain the 6-foot distance, he said. Berkeleyside reporters monitored the meeting from home out of an abundance of caution.

Tuesday night, council also approved a “Proclamation of Local Emergency” that was issued March 3 “due to the spread of a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) Coronavirus (‘COVID-19’).” The item basically governs how the city manages an emergency and grants it certain authority as to how this works.

Tuesday, March 10

ALAMEDA COUNTY REPORTS NEW CORONAVIRUS CASE Alameda County, which has a separate public health division from the city of Berkeley’s, now has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): “The individual is the spouse of the second confirmed case, and is an older adult, who had disembarked from the Grand Princess cruise ship in February. This individual had already been quarantined at home and remains isolated; we are monitoring this new case’s condition and no additional contacts were identified.” The city of Berkeley has two confirmed cases.

SCHOOL DISTRICT CANCELS LARGE EVENTS The Berkeley Unified School District has decided to cancel all large events through March in line with Tuesday’s directive from the city’s public division. Schools will remain open.

PERSIAN NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IS OFF The organizers of the popular annual Persian New Year Fire Festival have decided to call it off this year. Lisa Bullwinkel shared the news on Berkeleyside, writing, “With a heavy heart, we have decided to cancel the Persian New Year Fire Festival on March 17 in Berkeley. The event is all about jumping over the fire to give it your sickly pallor and taking back it’s rosy glow, creating health for the coming year. If anyone became ill it would not be in keeping with the reason for producing the festival. Wash your hands! Stay well. See you next year.”

CITY SAYS MASS GATHERINGS SHOULD BE LIMITED Berkeley’s health officer is urging residents to limit their attendance at “mass gatherings” to slow the spread of a novel coronavirus, though she stopped short of calling for school or office closures in an announcement Tuesday afternoon. The city of Berkeley now has two confirmed COVID-19 cases, including one passenger from the Grand Princess cruise ship. “The time to act is now,” the city urged the public.

Monday, March 9

BERKELEY SCHOOLS REMAIN OPEN Berkeley’s public K-12 campuses are still open. “As of right now, we are continuing to follow guidance from City of Berkeley Health, which aligns with [the Alameda County Public Health Department]. We have not canceled events and have no plan to close any school at this time,” says BUSD spokeswoman Trish McDermott in an email to Berkeleyside. BUSD officials will discuss coronavirus at their March 11 School Board meeting too. (Unless they, like some of their City Council counterparts, decide to phone in to the gathering.)

UC BERKELEY CANCELS IN-PERSON CLASSES UC Berkeley suspends most in-person classes, “offering ALL lecture courses (including discussion sections) and seminar instruction and assessment through alternative modalities,” campus officials tell faculty in an urgent email sent just after noon. A town hall event about the disease planned for later this month is canceled. UC Berkeley Extension has suspended most classes and lectures are being offered through “alternative modalities.” Downtown Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory has suspended its programs through March 30.

Friday, March 6

TWITTER TOWN HALL The city holds its first ever Twitter town hall answering questions on the coronavirus.

Thursday, March 5

PRIVATE SCHOOL CLOSES Private elementary school Black Pine Circle closes citing an “abundance of caution” after a school family that had traveled internationally was potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Wednesday, March 4

EXTRA PRECAUTIONS FOR SENIORS Senior residences in Berkeley are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Tuesday, March 3

FIRST CORONAVIRUS CASE IN BERKELEY Berkeley reports first coronavirus patient. A patient in Berkeley who had visited Italy has tested positive for COVID-19, a new coronavirus, authorities report.