East Oakland residents are being urged to avoid social gatherings because they are leading to a surge in COVID-19 cases, city leaders said Friday.
Leaders made their pleas at 12:15 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater on Lake Merritt Boulevard between 12th Street and First Avenue.
The surge has been directly related to parties and social gatherings, and of specific concern are large gatherings at Lake Merritt, according to the leaders citing data released this week by Roots Community Health Center, which is based in East Oakland.
"We should all be alarmed by the new data," said Nikki Fortunato Bas, city councilwoman whose district includes part of East Oakland.
The data show that the number of virus cases related to parties, social gatherings and traveling is up to about 40 percent of the total and about double the rate in workplaces.
She encouraged residents to use a mask when within 30 feet of another person.
Alameda County is expected to reach 10,000 cases of the coronavirus this week, said Dr. Nicholas Moss, interim Alameda County health officer. That number is three times the number on June 1.
New cases are mostly in younger adults, with 65 percent occurring among residents 18 to 50 years old, he said.
African Americans are two times more likely to die from the virus than whites, he said. Latinx residents are more than six times likely to get COVID-19 than whites, Moss said.
He said social gatherings are playing a much larger part than expected. Moss asked residents to wear a face covering even when talking. He urged residents to stay six feet away from each other and stay home until getting the results of a COVID-19 test if a test was done.
"We're tired, we want to socialize," said Dr. Noha Aboelata, CEO of Roots Community Health Center. "But people are clustering together. Please spread out."
She asked residents to think about what the feeling will be like if they catch the virus and must call everyone they have been in contact with.
"It's not just inconvenient, it is a challenge to adhere to this guidance," said city councilman Loren Taylor, who also represents part of East Oakland. "But, we must stay vigilant."
Saturday was sunny at Lake Merritt where Chaney Timms stopped by. He said he’s heard the city has asked people to give the lake a break.
“I understand the position but people are tired of being crammed up in their apartments,” he said.
The city has taken steps to curb the crowds such as restricting parking.