August 14, 2020, Update from Supervisor Connolly

District 1 Supervisor Connelly Banner Image

Dear Friends,

On August 11, the Board of Supervisors received an update from Dr. Willis, Public Health Officer, with some good news subject to receiving complete data from the State. Our hospitalization rate is the lowest it has been in two months. As of August 13, there are 11 people hospitalized, 3 are from San Quentin. CalCat, a COVID modeling tool, shows that transmission is relatively stable and decreasing with a transmission rate of 0.76. That means that for every person infected, on average, less than one other person becomes infected. In total, roughly 56,000 tests have been conducted, the equivalent of approximately 1/5 of Marin's population.

Marin has about 160 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days. A decrease from our last report but still higher than the threshold for the State's watchlist, 100 cases per 100,000. With the exception of hotels, the county is now on par with the State's restrictions on what businesses may reopen. If our case rate remains below 200 cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks, hotels can expect to reopen on August 24.  This will bring us into alignment with what the State allows to be open for counties on the Watch List. Take a look at the Community Conversation from August 13 where Dr. Willis answers questions regarding COVID.

Community Conversation

Efforts in the Canal

A new webpage highlights what we are doing to address the COVID outbreak in the Canal Area of San Rafael. The County was able to secure a hotel in the Canal neighborhood where residents can quarantine and isolate. Testing happens 6 days per week at the Marin Community Clinics. This includes antibody testing and rapid testing. The public "Why I Mask" campaign has shared 600 posters throughout the neighborhood. Contact tracers hired from within the community better connect and isolate those who may have been exposed.

Marin County Health and Human Services is working with local partners, Canal Alliance, Marin Community Clinics, Marin Health, Kaiser Permanente, City of San Rafael, and others to support Canal residents.  Here is a look at the action teams taking on this issue:

Canal Action Team

A lot of work is going forward to support housing, education, employment, and health. Each of these areas, if not addressed, will have a long-lasting impact on community members. We are working to support each of these areas. Significantly, a partnership has emerged with County Information Services Technology (IST), Hewlett Packard, Canal Alliance, and Marin Community Foundation to provide a community WiFi grid.  The network uses a grid of 20 devices on streetlights throughout the Canal neighborhood to serve about 500 users at once with more people able to join as more equipment is added. At a time when schools have gone online, closing the digital divide is imperative to addressing inequities in education. 

Marin Economic Recovery Task Force

Supervisor Arnold and I are leading the Marin Economic Recovery Task Force to develop a long term strategic plan for economic recovery and vitality. We are currently working on an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to fund a  strategic planning process. We continue to meet weekly with local leaders to share the latest information and hear the concerns and priorities of our small businesses. As we partner to address the future economic needs of the County, we will look at our workforce as a key area to address inequities in our economy. 

The Small Business Development Center is holding a series of webinars in Spanish about building business. If you or someone you know is interested you can learn more and enroll through this link.

Project HomeKey 

Governor Newsom created Project RoomKey and made state funds available to offer motel and hotel rooms for residents who are over 65, experiencing homelessness, or are at higher risk of COVID. Project HomeKey seeks to make this a permanent opportunity with funding available to purchase a hotel or motel and create a pathway for those who need it today and in the future.

Affordable housing is key to making Marin a more inclusive community. People of color comprise approximately 34% of persons experiencing homelessness while 26% of people accessing shelter are non-white. In between these numbers is an equity gap. Through Project RoomKey, our system of care has provided 90 rooms for those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic and has increased access to shelter; 38.6% of residents in Project RoomKey are persons of color. We expect that Project HomeKey will yield similar results.

The County is in the process of identifying a motel or hotel to purchase. We are hopeful that we will have a site that is turn-key ready and we will be able to secure State funding. Addressing the equity issue with housing in Marin starts with a Housing First model.

Housing First Model

Update on Sheriff

During the budget hearings, the Board of Supervisors raised several issues regarding the Marin County Sheriff's Office. Work is ongoing. The Sheriff has confirmed, effective August 15,  he will end the "warm hand-off" policy whereby ICE was permitted to enter the booking area of the jail to take custody of inmates being released. The Board will soon consider a request to declare Marin a sanctuary county. Additionally, we will pursue along with the Sheriff, the possibility of closing one of six pods of the Marin County Jail. As we continue this work, I'm bringing the question of realigning mental health services and law enforcement resources to the Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Committee. 

Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health

County and community leaders are working to address systemic mental health and criminal justice issues impacting our community. Through the Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Committee, an initiative I'm leading, we are working hard to break the revolving door that leads many of our residents with behavioral health challenges on an endless cycle between the streets, the back of an ambulance or patrol car, and the jail.

In October, we will be meeting to review several models for how law enforcement and behavioral health can work together to identify a crisis and intervene appropriately. Intervention by behavioral health or law enforcement alone won’t solve these societal issues. We must build a pathway to recovery, helping those with the greatest needs live healthy lives. Our Mobile Crisis Unit is an example of behavioral health workers on the frontline. They work to reach community members experiencing a mental health crisis but operate only from 1 pm to 9 pm. That is inadequate. I will be looking to find ways to further align our mental health system with community needs.

Boards and Commissions

We recently made appointments to our Boards and Commissions that I think will bring a voice of lived experience. I was pleased to appoint Hameseh Kianfar to the Human Rights Commission. Last month the Human Rights Commission heard a presentation on equity work at the County of Marin, considered whether to support a proposal to prohibit police unions from making financial contributions to the candidates for District Attorney, and discussed whether the Commission should take a position on the defunding or reallocation of law enforcement. I encourage you to tune into the important work that the Human Rights Commission is doing, their next meeting is on September 8. The Sheriff committed to creating a committee to review the Use of Force Policy at the Marin County Sheriff's office. I am pleased to have appointed Paulette DaCosta-Cortes to represent District 1. Last week we appointed five new Youth Commissioners from District 1. We had more applicants than positions, and wonderful candidates, I am excited to hear from our youth. Welcome: Xavier Asprer, Naedy Mendoza -Rodriguez, Sarah Mondesir, Jessica Ralh, and Alexander Rodriguez. Throughout the County, we see equity in action with new leaders. Most recently we welcomed Marlon Washington, Chief Probation Officer, and Otis Bruce Jr., who was promoted to Assistant District Attorney. There is a great deal of thought and work taking place, and I encourage your engagement at all levels.


Trips for Kids is a great Marin organization that aims to get underserved youth on bikes. I am supporting Trips for Kids with a bike ride in their summer auction. Take a look at the online auction item here.


I have always said that I'm a glass-half-full kind of person. There is an opportunity ahead in the face of unprecedented challenges, as we adapt to new business practices and do so with equity in mind. I hope to keep hearing from you through this process on the phone, or over Zoom, about your vision for Marin County.

Let's keep talking.  



Marin County Board of Supervisors, District 1
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 329, San Rafael, CA 94903
Direct Tel: (415) 473-7331

District Aide: Mary Sackett
Direct Tel: (415) 473-7354 

District Aide: Gustavo Goncalves
Direct Tel: (415) 473-7342