Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Orinda nursing home has 49 cases of covid-19; Analysis predicts state will have lower death toll during peak surge

Will A's and Giants play regular games only in Arizona?

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Apr 7, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Gov. Gavin Newsom is targeting mid-May for the peak number of covid-19 cases in the state. - GAGE SKIDMORE-CREATIVE COMMONS
  • GAGE SKIDMORE-CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom is targeting mid-May for the peak number of covid-19 cases in the state.


News you don't want to miss for April 7:

1. A nursing home in Orinda is being hit hard by a covid-19 outbreak that has infected 49 people, including 27 residents and 22 staff members, the East Bay Times reports.

2. Gov. Gavin Newsom is maintaining his belief that covid-19 cases in the state will peak sometime in mid-May, the Associated Press reports. But a new analysis predicts the surge in cases will come sometime this month, and the projected death toll will be far lower than previously predicted.

3. The Hayward City Council is expected to delay implementation of its recently approved minimum wage increase on Tuesday night due to the covid-19 crisis, the East Bay Citizen reports. The council approved in February an acceleration of the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour for large businesses starting on July 1.

4. The deadline to pay local property taxes is Friday, April 10, but only San Francisco and San Mateo Counties have decided to extend the deadline, the East Bay Times reports. In Alameda County, the tax collector's office said it will work with property owners on an individual basis and waive penalties if they can show the late payment is due to covid-19.

5. Using reusable paper and plastic bags at grocery stores are banned for the time being in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and four other Bay Area counties, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Health officials fear the bags pose a risk of spreading covid-19. $$

6. Major League Baseball is contemplating a plan to resume its season by having all 30 teams play exclusively in Arizona and without fans in the stands, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, the covid-19 outbreak led to a movie box office haul of a measly $5,000 during the last week of March, SFGate reports.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Alameda County 911 ambulance provider contemplates furloughs; Oakland opens covid-19 testing site

East Bay Times furloughs entire sports section

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Falck has been Alameda County's 911 ambulance provider since July 2019.
  • Falck has been Alameda County's 911 ambulance provider since July 2019.


News you don't want to miss for April 6:

1. Alameda County's emergency ambulance provider, is considering a plan to furlough as many as 600 of its employees due to the coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

2. California will loan 500 ventilators to New York, where the coronavirus outbreak in that state continues to worsen, Politico reports. California's supply comes from the national stockpile. Oregon and Washington are also sending much-needed ventilators to New York.

3. Oakland opened its second public covid-19 testing site on Monday morning, the East Bay Times reports. The site is located at the parking lot of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, and will administer 250 tests a day.

4. The state is beginning to whittle away at its massive backlog of coronavirus tests, the East Bay Times reports. Pending test results fell from 59,000 to 15,000 in recent days.

5. The East Bay Times is preparing to begin furloughing some of its reporters due to declining revenues associated with the coronavirus outbreak, according to a tweet from its investigative reporter Thomas Peele. The San Jose Mercury News Guild said the entire sports newsroom for the Times and Mercury News will be furloughed.

6. Harold Miller, a mainstay at the Oakland Coliseum from the day it was built, passed away last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He was 90. Miller was the event supervisor for decades at the sports complex and was known for his warm and friendly demeanor. $$

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Monday's Briefing: Alameda County 911 ambulance provider contemplates furloughs; Oakland opens covid-19 testing site

East Bay Times furloughs entire sports section

Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Falck has been Alameda County's 911 ambulance provider since July 2019.
  • Falck has been Alameda County's 911 ambulance provider since July 2019.


News you don't want to miss for April 6:

1. Alameda County's emergency ambulance provider, is considering a plan to furlough as many as 600 of its employees due to the coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

2. California will loan 500 ventilators to New York, where the coronavirus outbreak in that state continues to worsen, Politico reports. California's supply comes from the national stockpile. Oregon and Washington are also sending much-needed ventilators to New York.

3. Oakland opened its second public covid-19 testing site on Monday morning, the East Bay Times reports. The site is located at the parking lot of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, and will administer 250 tests a day.

4. The state is beginning to whittle away at its massive backlog of coronavirus tests, the East Bay Times reports. Pending test results fell from 59,000 to 15,000 in recent days.

5. The East Bay Times is preparing to begin furloughing some of its reporters due to declining revenues associated with the coronavirus outbreak, according to a tweet from its investigative reporter Thomas Peele. The San Jose Mercury News Guild said the entire sports newsroom for the Times and Mercury News will be furloughed.

6. Harold Miller, a mainstay at the Oakland Coliseum from the day it was built, passed away last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He was 90. Miller was the event supervisor for decades at the sports complex and was known for his warm and friendly demeanor. $$

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Schaaf appoints new Oakland city administrator; NRA sues Alameda County for shutting down gun shops

Backlog of covid-19 testing results is large

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Ed Reiskin's appointment as Oakland city administrator could be approved by the City Council on April 21. - CITY OF OAKLAND
  • City of Oakland
  • Ed Reiskin's appointment as Oakland city administrator could be approved by the City Council on April 21.


News you don't want to miss for Mar. 3-5:

1. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf appointed Ed Reiskin to be its next city administrator on Friday, the East Bay Citizen reports. Reiskin currently serves as assistant city administrator. If confirmed by the Oakland City Council later this month, Reiskin, a former head of Muni in San Francisco, will replace Sabrina Landreth, who resigned last December, as Oakland city administrator.

2. California has a huge backlog of pending testing results for the coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Of the more 92,500 tests given, 64 percent have yet to be fully processed, as of Wednesday. $$

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Thursday that prohibits water utilities from shutting off service to customers with delinquent bills, the East Bay Times reports.

4. The NRA and other gun rights groups, are suing Alameda County, and three other Bay Area counties, for shutting down gun shops amid the coronavirus outbreak, SFGate reports. Alameda County deemed the shops "non-essential." A gun shop in Castro Valley was shut down by the sheriff's department last month.

A ballot initiative to overturn Proposition 13 appears near after backers submitted 1.7 million signatures to county registrars for the question to be included on the November ballot, Politico reports. Passed in 1978, Proposition 13 significantly limited increases in property taxes. Critics say it has starved the state's treasury of needed tax revenues.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thursday’s Briefing: Oakland gets FEMA trailers to house homeless; Richmond Craneway Pavilion to become medical site

6.6 million unemployment claims last week

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Apr 2, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Homeless camp on Webster Street in Oakland. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Homeless camp on Webster Street in Oakland.


News you don’t want to miss for April 2:

1. Oakland will receive 91 former FEMA trailers to help house the unsheltered during the coronavirus crisis, the East Bay Times reports. Other cities in Alameda County are expected to also receive trailers.

2. Contra Costa County officials will convert Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion into a medical facility able to hold 250 coronavirus patients, the East Bay Times reports. The conversion could be completed by mid-April.

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom is already planning for "Phase 2" of the state's response to the coronavirus, the Sacramento Bee reports. Newsom's call for 50,000 more hospital beds and 10,000 ventilators could be exhausted by mid-May, he said on Wednesday.

4. Eden Health District officials in central Alameda County will purchase 100,000 medical masks to aid front-line medical workers, the East Bay Citizen reports. The district's board of directors also allocated $250,000 to fund, along with the county, three mobile COVID-19 testing sites.

5. Unemployment claims continue to skyrocket. A record 6.6 million Americans filed claims last week, including 878,727 in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The sudden increase in layoffs due to the coronavirus could eventually raise unemployment to 10 percent, analysts believe.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Campuses unlikely to open for the rest of the school year; U.C. suspends use of SAT scores

CalFresh applications on the rise

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 4:00 AM

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told the state's county superintendents to rely on distance learning through the end of this school year.
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told the state's county superintendents to rely on distance learning through the end of this school year.


News you don't want to miss for April 1:

1. Tony Thuromond, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a letter to county superintendents Tuesday that schools are not likely to reopen this year, EdSource reports. Instead, he encouraged school district to plan for distance learning through the end of the year.

2. The University of California was already facing great criticism over its use of SAT tests for admissions. Now the coronavirus outbreak is leading the U.C. system to suspend its use for the coming school year, in addition, to waiving minimum grade requirements, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

3. Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to bring back local and state tax deductions that were removed by federal tax legislation signed by President Trump in 2017, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The tax bill limited the local and state deduction to $10,000 a year. Pelosi said retroactively restoring the deductions will help middle-class families during the COVID-19 crisis.

4. Demand for food stamps in California is expected to rise significantly, the Los Angeles Times reports. "The number of people applying for food assistance jumped to 55,624 in the third week of March, up from 34,882 during the same period last year," according to the state department of social services.

5. Emails show Tesla officials asserted the electric car company's factory in Fremont was essential business and federal guidelines superseded the county's shelter in place order, Protocol reports. This came after Alameda County's interim public health officer deemed the factory a "public health risk."

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Bay Area sees encouraging signs of flattening the curve; Oakland sideshows are back

U.C. Berkeley scientists offering COVID-19 pop-up lab

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Oakland sideshow in 2018. - STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN
  • Stephen Loewinsohn
  • Oakland sideshow in 2018.


News you don't want to miss for Mar. 31:

1. Scientists at U.C. Berkeley will soon be offering a coronavirus pop-up laboratory, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The site will be able to run 1,000 tests a day. $$

2. Roughly 20 percent of California's coronavirus patients have been hospitalized, the East Bay Times reports. The rate is following a similar pattern seen in other areas hit by the pandemic. In addition, nearly 600 are in intensive care.

3. Overall, there are encouraging early signs the Bay Area's shelter in place order is working to "flatten the curve," Politico reports. Kaiser Permanente officials said the number of coronavirus patients at its hospitals statewide is "leveling off."

4. The Trump administration deemed gun shop as essential businesses to be allowed open during the coronavirus outbreak, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Los Angeles' sheriff said he will allow the shops to remain open. Earlier this month, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department asked a gun shop in Castro Valley to close its doors.

5. The sideshow are back and posing a greater danger than before, KTVU reports. An estimated 450 people attended sideshows in Oakland over the weekend in defiance of the shelter in place order and social distancing.

6. A longshoremen fell to his death at the Port Oakland early Tuesday morning, KPIX reports. The accident, in which the individual fell onto the deck of the ship and then into the water, occurred at Berth 56.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Shelter in place order will be extended to May 1; State has stockpile of expired N95 masks

Amazon, Instacart workers go on strike

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 4:00 AM

N95 medical mask. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • N95 medical mask.


News you don't want to miss for Mar. 30:

1. The Bay Area's shelter in place order is expected to be extended to May 1, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. On Mar. 17, six Bay Area cities issued a three-week order for residents to stay in their homes, reduce travel, and practice social distancing in an effort to lower the probability of spreading the coronavirus. $$

2. The state is attempting to recruit retired doctors to help combat the coronavirus crisis that may soon overwhelm local hospitals with sick patients, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order also includes nursing assistants, home health aides, and emergency medical services personnel. $$

3. All of the state's 21 million stockpile of N95 masks have expired "wear-by" dates, the San Francisco Chronicle found. $$

4. As of Monday, Alameda County now has 283 reported cases of the coronavirus, the East Bay Times reports. Seven deaths related to the virus have occurred in the county, through Sunday.

5. An estimated 1,400 layoffs in the hotel industry has already occurred in the Bay Area, the East Bay Times reports. The news is a harbinger of tough times for the entire state's tourism industry. $$

6. Instacart and Amazon workers went on strike on Monday in effort to gain paid sick leave, while demanding the companies provide cleaner work environments amid the coronavirus oubreak, NPR reports.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Oakland approves moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19; BART may suspend Sunday train service

Shelter in place is leading to dramatic improvements in Bay Area air quality

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas authored the city's moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19. Councilmember Dan Kalb co-authored the ordinance. - ERIKA PINO
  • Erika Pino
  • Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas authored the city's moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19. Councilmember Dan Kalb co-authored the ordinance.


News you don't want to miss for Mar. 27-29:

1. Oakland approved one of the strongest urgency moratoriums on evictions due to the coronavirus in the state during a special Oakland City Council meeting on Friday afternoon. The moratorium includes prohibitions against residential and commercial evictions, rent increases, and late fees for tenants who have been financially affected by the coronavirus.

2. BART, amid a 92 percent drop in ridership, is considering the suspension of Sunday train service, the San Francisco Examiner reports. BART is facing the possibility of a $442 million operation budget shortfall.

3. Miraculous improvements in air quality followed China's decision to shut down its factories two months ago. The same thing is occurring in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is recording "unprecedented" reductions in particulate in the air. $$

4. Here's another sliver of good news arising from the shelter in place order: "Overlooked animals are being adopted," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

5. Hayward may move to delay implementation of its recently approved minimum wage acceleration, set to increase to $15 an hour for businesses with more than 25 employees on July 1, the East Bay Citizen reports.

6. The sports calendar is devoid of events in the Bay Area, except in one place, Golden Gate Fields in Albany. While bets on thoroughbreds continue across the state despite the shelter in place order, race tracks are facing criticism for putting employees at risk, the Associated Press reports.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Evidence Suggests That Sheltering-In-Place is Working

Early data from Santa Clara County and Miami shows a direct correlation between closures and decline of flu-like illnesses.

by Jennifer Wadsworth
Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 1:23 PM

Elbow bumps are the new high five. - (PHOTO VIA SHUTTERSTOCK)
  • (Photo via Shutterstock)
  • Elbow bumps are the new high five.

Scroll from the bottom up to read in chronological order. And click here to catch up on the rest of our coronavirus coverage.

Don’t be fooled by the empty shelves. There’s plenty of food to go around.

Ron Fong, head of the California Grocers Association, is trying to hammer that point home through a new initiative called Enough for All.

“The bare shelves you are occasionally seeing do not indicate lack of supply,” he says.“It is a temporary result of consumers overbuying given the understandable worry right now. The supply and distribution systems are prepared to accommodate this behavior for a day or two during holidays, but not for extended periods of time.”

The men and women who’ve become frontline workers by staffing our grocery stores and distribution centers are working day and night to catch up, Fong says. And hiring sprees are bringing more people aboard to keep pace with demand.

“Everyone can help stop this unnatural cycle of demand by simply buying only what you need for a week and curbing the tendency to over-buy,” he advises. “Getting shopping patterns back to normal will reduce stress on the distribution system and can go a long way toward creating some normalcy in our grocery stores.”

With that in mind, Fong says, let’s “just buy smart and don’t overfill our carts.”


11am: Who’s got you covered?

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Though San Jose has a lower rate of uninsured residents, a new study shows that an alarming number of the city’s million people have no healthcare coverage. According to credit-building company Self Financial, about 50,000 have no health insurance. “Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 depend on the nation’s ability to provide testing and treatment for all Americans, even the 28.5 million who lack health insurance,” a summary of the study reads. Yet the coronavirus pandemic comes after a two-year decline in coverage in the U.S. After a seven-year increase in coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate began ticking up again in 2018 after the repeal of the individual mandate penalty. Click here to read the report and see how various cities and states stack up.


10:20am: Keep on keeping on.

fb_img_1585189365126.jpg

“Don’t think for a second that we’re a day or two from lifting that order. We’re not.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom relayed the message in his latest COVID-19 briefing, where he made clear that California has no plans to grant President Trump’s wish of getting back to business as usual by Easter Sunday.

There’s just no way, the governor said. Not now, as the death toll careens upward, and hospitals already overrun with gasping coronavirus patients brace for the storm.

That’s because what we’re doing is working.

The social distancing, the staying home, the discipline required for millions of us to hunker down—it’s doing what it’s supposed to. It’s flattening the curve.

“We can’t let up on the good decision-making that we’ve seen,” Newsom said. Later in the address, he added: “We know it’s had an impact … so let’s not let up. Let us commit to this home isolation and physical distancing.”

Since containment’s no longer an option, mitigation’s the name of the game now. And though a lack of testing means we’re blind to the full scope of the problem, we’re not entirely in the dark. Data show that the Bay Area’s sweeping shutdown has prevented infections and saved lives. Just look at the graph above to see how this region has fared compared to one that notoriously lagged on enforcing distancing mandates.

“We don’t live under assumptions,” Newsom told us the other day. “We live under real data trend lines—and real application.”

Last night, Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith called me to follow up on an email I’d sent earlier in the week about the local public health lab’s testing capacity. When I asked him what message he’d like to get out there more than anything, he reiterated the governor’s mantras about social distancing.

The single most impactful thing people can do right now is keep this up, Smith said, promising that the effect of collective lockdown will become more apparent in the coming weeks. “Social distancing is working,” he said. “It will work. But we really don’t have time with this crisis to be fooling around.”

I told him to keep me in the loop if there’s any data to share or stories to tell that illustrate that point because I believe that the more we inform people about what’s going on, the more they’re invested in doing their part.

Showing people how the stay-home mandate is working might encourage them to stay the course. And being transparent about the county’s limitations—like the dearth of testing resources—might spur people to rise to the occasion.

All the stories we’ve seen about the critical shortage of ventilators have inspired creative minds to figure out ways to hack the machines and companies such as Tesla to re-open its factory to manufacture them. By being open and honest about rationing masks and other protective gear, hospitals have prompted a public outpouring of donations.

As journalists, we aim to hold people in power accountable. Of course. But a lot of our job is more simple than that. We’re just trying to tell people what the heck’s going on.

Sometimes that requires scathing takedowns. Most of the time, it’s just sharing the latest updates, like new case counts or how many masks our hospitals need. It also involves reporting the good news, highlighting solutions and telling personal stories.

I say all this because I want our readers to think of all the different stories we could cover (with our limited resources) and send us tips that point us in the right direction. I want to hear from you. So, text me at 408.515.7611 or email jenniferw@metronews.com as inspiration strikes. Nurses, doctors, frontline workers: I can promise confidentiality.

And if you value our journalism, consider helping us through these trying times by making a donation or buying a subscription at supportyourlocalnewspaper.com.

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