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October brings a host of good news to Belvedere. As Marin has kept its COVID numbers in check, we moved into the state-designated “Red Tier,” which allows a limited reopening of schools, public spaces and businesses. Current information can be found here. The county health department website is also a good resource, including testing information, masks, quarantine instructions, and data – all right here.
However, the situation remains fluid and we are following the orders issued by Marin County Health Officer, Dr. Matt Willis. Although we are excited about reinvigorating our economy, make no mistake, COVID-19 is still going strong. The statewide stats are sobering here.
The time we spent in lockdown gave Marin critical time to prepare. But there is a hush throughout the world as “second waves” arrive elsewhere, and flu season is in sight. Please be sure to get your flu shot.
Police Chief Wu’s community policing model has served Belvedere well behind the scenes, implementing health orders and responding to individuals in need of help. We work closely together and I am proud to say he has just been named head of the Marin Police Chiefs Association. Largely through education, Chief Wu has helped us understand the importance of changing our individual behavior during this difficult time: masking, distancing, avoiding large groups and hand-washing will help us stay well.
Someone asked me what children will remember about this time. Who knows? But when my mother died at 94 a few years ago, my siblings and I mused, “What did we most recall mom saying? “Wash your hands!” we all said at once, mystified that we voiced the same mantra. Not until COVID did I get it: her little sister Colleen had contracted polio – and a vaccine would not appear for another 20 years. Children were constantly told to “wash your hands” as the only way to stay safe. Yet children everywhere need to play.
The Belvedere playground opened last week and the scene was one of joy. Thank you to our public works department, headed by Robert Zadnik, for power-washing, replacing tanbark, and safety-checking the equipment. With health rules and restrictions prominently posted and hand sanitizer in use, scores of children swung and climbed and laughed through their masks. A police officer showed up on the new electric bicycle to check out the action and ensure compliance. Everyone realizes that this is an experiment; if the playground becomes a place where people gather without masks and social distancing – or if our local numbers trend upward -- the caution tape will go up again and no one will get to play.
After the Parks and Open Space Committee voted on a final design for upgrades to the playground, the City Council approved the new ocean-themed design this week. The committee will launch a private fundraising drive soon.
Last week, public schools in the Reed Union School District opened on a partial or “hybrid” basis. You can find recent information here.
Meanwhile Mill Valley and others maintain remote learning. Private schools and daycare centers had previously begun in-person classes under waivers based on strict safety protocols. In this unsettled time, parents of schoolchildren deserve our understanding, care and respect!
With another heatwave upon us, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) has issued a statewide Flex Alert, calling for electricity conservation from 3pm to 10pm today, Thursday, October 15th. You can find useful information here. City Council heard from Mark Van Gorder PG&E on Monday night about what to expect during the remainder of fire season. If we have a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) like last year – or a rolling power outage lasting more than 3 hours – we will open the lower level of City Hall as a Community Crisis Center, with internet and power recharging stations, an ice machine (for medicine and cooling off), and a message board for communication if cell phone reception fails. Please see my letter of September 4, 2020 here, with guidelines for reducing energy to avoid rolling blackouts.
With recent fires to the north, and smoke-filled air here, we have learned that crises don’t wait in line to happen one at a time. All of our emergency preparations include protections against COVID-19 as well. Although other news has displaced the pandemic from its place on the front page, the spread of coronavirus is still the most serious concern to us all.
Looking back through our letters to the community of the last 10 months, which you can access here, much of the advice we have passed along still holds true.
Keep social distance to 6 feet
Wear masks outdoors or around other people
Avoid large gatherings
Wash your hands with soap or use sanitizer
Keep a personal journal for contact tracing
We have about 250 residents who are sheltering alone. If you know someone who is isolated, please pick up the phone and reach out.
All seniors are invited to take part in a task force working to implement our World Health Organization status as Age Friendly Belvedere. We have 15-20 people attending so far and all are welcome. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
We hope that by continuing to care for one another as a community of all ages – from toddlers to teens, parents to great-grandparents – we’ll look back one day and say, “We got through that together in Belvedere.”