I am an American living in the southern French city

Local News and Opinion from The Berkeley Daily Planet

Staying home, washing hands regularly still remain critical

The City of Berkeley’s Health Officer and other Health Officers around the region and state recommend that everyone cover their noses and mouths with cloth when leaving home for essential visits to doctor’s offices, supermarkets or pharmacies.

A bandana, fabric mask, neck gaiter or other cloth barrier helps prevent those who have mild or no COVID 19 symptoms from unknowingly spreading it to others. To protect yourself from others, use physical distance.

Do not use surgical masks or N 95s.

Have fun and stay away from each other while singing!Health officers in several Bay Area counties and cities on Tuesday extended a shelter in place order through May 3 to try to limit the spread of the COVID 19 coronavirus in the region.

The previous order, issued earlier this month, was set to expire on April 7. Tuesday and covers six counties Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara as well as the city of Berkeley.

The county health officers said the order is a complement to the indefinite stay at home statewide order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19. The peak is still weeks away. Per Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s town hall Saturday, Berkeley was only at 19 identified infected persons. We know that will increase.

It is impossible to turn on the television without seeing a story about homemade masks or masks now being made out of sports jersey materials. Nurses, doctors, the entire team need the N95 masks and a full set of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The homemade masks, masks from sports jerseys do not give the protection that is needed for members of the health care team who are in close contact with COVID 19. A best guess would be that these well meaning efforts offer little to almost no protection for the working conditions of doctors and nurses, but for your trip to the grocery with social distancing a DIY mask will add some extra protection even if the only effect is to make you conscious of keeping your hands off your face.

Consider this: When a person infected with measles coughs or sneezes, the virus propelled into the air is infectious for up to two hours. Measles carries a fatality rate of 0.2%. The winter flu is 0.1% fatal. The best information available states COVID 19 is airborne for three hours and when those droplets fall from the air or come off the hands of an infected person on plastic and stainless steel the droplets are infectious for days.

While it is still too early to tell, I remain hopeful that the Bay Area’s early physical distancing measures will result in a flattened infection curve. The Bay Area is fortunate to have a group of dedicated public health leaders working together.

## ## I am providing a number of updates on the extension of the order, information on how to apply for the City’s COVID 19 rental, arts, and small business relief funds, and excerpts from my virtual town hall Q

At 8:00pm, it starts. First, the slide of terrace doors opening and the sound of balcony windows being unlatched. Lingering silence is broken as people lean out from above and applaud. Regardless of the neighborhood , the French people clap every evening at this time. Some households play music. Noise making accoutrements that I don’t have in my home punctuate the patter: cow bells, groggers of sorts, and improbably, kazoos. This is all to appreciate healthcare workers battling COVID 19. I am an American living in the southern French city of Montpellier, and during the pandemic, my favorite activity is to jog during this daily event. Montpellieris a small city the population of Orlando but has the density between that of Boston and Newark. Narrow streets radiate from the medieval center and meander through myriad neighborhoods.

I’d always been an admirer of the glitz and glamour of the fashion world. But as I became older and more cognizant of the ugly processes that lay behind the beauty the garments offered, owning them became untenable. With factory workers coerced into substandard work conditions, erratic shifts, and unlivable wages, the human cost of fashion is unjustifiable. Clothing is meant to be an empowering exercise in self expression; how then was it ethical to empower myself at the expense of workers? Instead of focusing on appearance or price, I wanted my clothes’ origins to reflect my humanitarian values. To me, authenticity in fashion means embodying a piece that you believe in, not only in its outward appearance but also its inward significance. McGillivray scolding us all for sheltering in place probably awakens in a certain ratio among us a sense of something familiar. Isn’t there some lunacy in letting the economy fall apart while going stir crazy indoors if we’re lucky enough to have a door to close?

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