Contra Costa Co. Supes tell health department to crack down on COVID-19 offenders

Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff told county health services director Anna Roth on Tuesday that she wants a detailed report concerning what Roth's department is doing about 13 businesses still refusing to comply with COVID-19 indoor mandates, including checking customers' vaccine records. 

During Roth's regular report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, she said her department received 99 complaints about 80 businesses allegedly not complying in November. She said 13 are still being investigated.

The health department investigates complaints, educates the business owner, issues fines and, if there's still no compliance, can shut a business down. So far that's only happened once, in October to In-N-Out in Pleasant Hill. The restaurant chose to keep its dining room closed and has since only offered drive-thru service. 

"We're done," Mitchoff said. "At this point, it's time. There are businesses that are complying, and we've got a new variant coming out, and what's to prevent another business that's been complying to say 'Hey, there's nothing being done.'"  

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia agreed, saying it's not fair to the restaurants that do comply. 

"If they see that those establishments that are not complying are not facing some type of consequence, they then raise the issue and say 'Hey, I'm working really hard. I support this. Why aren't those restaurants or those facilities that are not complying receiving consequences?'" Gioia said. 

Mitchoff said some small businesses have complained about receiving threats of attack by going along with the mandates.

"No, you're not (going to be attacked)," Mitchoff said, calling threats "rhetoric" and saying board members have also received death threats.  

"Next week, we want a report of what's going on, where these businesses are in that timeline, and what is being done," Mitchoff said. "The public is demanding it." 

Roth said the department hasn't changed its process of dealing with non-compliance, despite Mitchoff saying she's heard individuals in the health department are not enforcing that policy. 

"Message heard," Roth said. "We will be following up on cases." 

The new Omicron variant hasn't officially reached Contra Costa County yet, though it is in the Bay Area. The Delta variant makes up about 97 percent of the cases in Contra Costa, which numbered 1,284 Tuesday.

The county's positivity rate has increased, from 1.9 percent on Nov. 23 to 2.8 percent. "It's a slight increase, but it's important to keep an eye on that.," Roth said. 

Hospitalizations have decreased, from 33 two weeks ago to 27. The county rate of death is still about one person per day -- 31 deaths since Nov. 7, Roth said. 

The county reached 2 million doses given last Friday. The county's rate of fully vaccinated residents is at 75.6 percent. One of the requirements of lifting the indoor masking requirement is having 80 percent of eligible people fully vaccinated in the county.