BERKELEY—On May 25, 2020, Berkeley city officials discussed initiatives to fight against the current rise in COVID-19 cases.

The data shows over the past two weeks, coronavirus cases have increased by 40%, and 363 cases were identified over the past two weeks in Berkeley. Moreover, two additional deaths have been reported in the past two weeks, for a total of three deaths due to COVID-19 in the city. Because of this situation, businesses will be prevented from reopening further for at least three weeks, and an economic slump is a concern.

Lisa Hernandez, a city health officer, brings up the fact that UC Berkeley students’ activities may affect a rise in COVID-19 cases. She also explains that the age demographics show people under 30 years old and between the ages of 50 and 70 account for the highest proportion of those testing positive. Mayor Jesse Arreguín states that the high numbers of cases is due to many people who are not following public health rules.

Paul Buddenhagen, Deputy City Manager, says that even though the city has received 120 complaints against reopening businesses, none of them have been shut down. California State Law does not allow the city to issue fines or other forms of punishment when citizens and businesses do not follow the rules, such as the non-use of facial masks or non-complicity with social distancing. However, Buddenhagen thinks that the City Council charging civil fines to deal with non-compliance with health rules in September may be unavoidable. “For now, we’re not issuing citations to people that are not wearing the face coverings. We are encouraging people to be good citizens and to follow this requirement because it’s important to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Buddenhagen.

The next town hall will be held on August 15.