The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Chambers. (Photo courtesy of Guidepost Solutions)

As COVID-19 case rates in the region begin to rise again, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday discussed vaccine hesitancy, COVID-19 protections for businesses and efforts to help homeless residents.

In recognition of the pandemic’s ongoing impact on businesses, the board approved extending the moratorium on commercial evictions in unincorporated areas of Alameda County until Sept. 30, 2021.

The board also received an update on the Fairmont Safer Ground Tiny Homes project — an effort to protect homeless individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those who are 65 and older or have pre-existing conditions that could worsen the effects of COVID-19.

The project consists of 34 small housing units on the Fairmont campus in unincorporated San Leandro that will provide an equal number of residents with housing and care services. Construction on the tiny homes began in October 2020 and is set to be finished on Thursday. The homes will open shortly afterward.

County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss later presented the board with a COVID-19 update, discussing rising case numbers and lingering vaccine hesitancy in the community.

Moss said cases and hospitalizations are both rising in Alameda County — particularly in East and West Oakland as well as Cherryland. Moss attributed the rise to the state’s reopening, remaining unvaccinated populations and the spread of the Delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said is potentially more transmissible than other variants.

Moss said the fewest COVID-19 hospitalizations at any time in Alameda County was 20, but there are 68 hospitalizations in the county now, including 21 patients in intensive care.

Vaccination rates in the county are the highest among Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander and white residents, but lagging for Latino and Black residents, according to data from the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Supervisor Wilma Chan spoke to concerns from members of the Latino community in Alameda County that vaccine registration could open up undocumented residents to the threat of being deported, questioning what the Public Health Department was doing to ease such concerns and combat misinformation about the vaccine.

The department, Moss said, has developed specific messaging around the vaccine, and hopes to partner with news outlets and community leaders to help distribute that messaging more effectively to residents.

Amid the rising case numbers and spread of the Delta variant, Moss urged residents to continue to wear masks and get vaccinated to protect themselves.

Statewide, he said, less than a tenth of a percent of vaccinated residents have been infected, and all approved vaccines in the United States have shown to be extremely effective at preventing serious disease.

“COVID’s not going away, it’s proving that right now,” Moss said. “People who are not vaccinated are not going to avoid it. It’s here to stay, and it will find people.”