Coronavirus: Oakland Mayor Schaaf says Lake Merritt crowd control efforts are working

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said during an interview on ABC7's "Midday Live" that she highly recommends residents get tested for the coronavirus.

She says there are now three free testing sites in Oakland, including one that just opened Monday at Allen Temple Baptist Church. They're doing testing there six days a week, 1 p.m.-7 p.m.

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There's also a walk-up site at Roots Community Health Clinic at 99th and International and a drive-through site at the end of the lake.

Almost 600 people have been tested since Monday.

"Thank you Oakland. I feel like I've been the testing nag but you are listening and you are taking advantage of these free testing sites."

Most of them require or at least encourage an appointment, and one can be made here. You don't need symptoms to get tested. Anyone who works or volunteers outside of the house can be tested.

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"If you have underlying medical conditions, if you're over the age of 65, if you smoke, you can get tested, even though you have no symptoms. If you feel at all bad, that is a symptom. Don't take a chance, get tested," she said.

Schaaf says the important thing about the Allen Temple site is that it's right in the heart of East Oakland. It's the city's attempt to address the health disparities by race in Oakland.

"We are seeing double the death rate in African Americans and triple the infection rate in our Latino population here in Alameda County, she said. "That is not totally surprising because health disparities in the risk factors for COVID-19 have been persistent with those groups. This is our opportunity to address it rapidly, with intention and also to look at some long-term changes so that we don't have these disparities in the future."

When asked about Lake Merritt, which has been an ongoing social distancing issue, she said the city has put in additional protections. Lakeside vending and food trucks are not allowed, as well as street parking right alongside the lake.

Schaaf said this did have the desired effect, with neighbors reporting about a 50% thinning out of crowds at the lake and no more mass gatherings.

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"Keep it up, Oakland. We are not through this yet," she said.

Schaaf was also asked about education and the next school year.

She says Jack Dorsey's personal donation of $10 million is a game-changer for Oakland kids. "We initially were trying to just get kids through the rest of this school year and the summer. We knew that to actually be able to get every household - 25,000 households - with the device, the connectivity and the technical support that they need to actually be connected would take another $10.5 million, and that's what Jack did for us."

The founder gaming company Zynga also made a $700,000 donation that allowed the city to declare victory on their $12.5 million goal. That will allow the city to make sure that families who have borrowed school district Chromebooks to be able to get set up with permanent connectivity by the time they need to return the computers.

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