SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The tsunami of news about the current coronavirus outbreak and now the reopenings can be overwhelming. To help you navigate through what you need to know here’s a news roundup of the top coronavirus and reopening-related stories from the last 24 hours.

Good News — Neighbors Helping Neighbors

East Bay Fitness Club Turns Empty Gym Space Into Distance Learning Pods For Kids
PLEASANTON — What do you do with 180,000 square feet of empty gym space? The Bay Club, in Pleasanton, came up with an idea that turned into a solution for kids doing distance learning this Fall and turned gym space into little classroom pods. The Bay Club’s executive team is comprised of many working parents. “I have five children,” said Jamie Meafou who is Vice President and General Manager of the Bay Club Company. “The last 2 1/2 months of school last year it was quite a struggle trying to handle all five children ages ranging from 17 to 7 years old.,”said Meafou. Now the Bay Club and KinderCare Education are teaming up to support families with distance learners. Read More

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Oakland Unified, Teachers, Staff Reach Tentative Deal On Fall Distance Learning
OAKLAND — After a month of negotiations, Oakland Unified School District announced Wednesday night that it has reached a tentative deal with its teachers and staff, three days into the new school year. What this deal does is shape the way distance learning will move forward for both teachers and students. It’s a less than ideal situation because school already started via distance learning mode on Monday.
Carrie Anderson teaches 3rd grade in the Oakland Unified School District and wishes she could be back in the classroom. “The first week of school is normally the start of this process of building this relationship and so it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do over the computer,” Anderson said. Read More

Proposed COVID-19 Surcharge Could Be A Lifeline For Struggling Palo Alto Restaurants
PALO ALTO — Restaurants in Palo Alto struggling to keep their doors open during the coronavirus pandemic could be getting a lifeline. Megan Kawkab’s Palo Alto restaurant and bar, The Patio, went from serving up to 209 customers a day to 26, “if they’re lucky.” “If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose a lot of restaurants and retailers,” said Kawkab. Now, help may be on the way. On Monday, Mayor Adrian Fine proposed an idea for business owners to include a “COVID Surcharge” to customers’ purchases. “Maybe it’s five percent, maybe it’s 10 percent,” Mayor Fine said. “So it’s for things like hygiene, cleanliness supplies, increased cost of labor.” Read More

Millions Of College Students Stuck In Pre-Pandemic Leases
SAN JOSE — As classes go online at colleges across the Bay Area for the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students who are unable to return to campus say they still have to pay for the apartments they secured before the coronavirus hit. Millions of college students — and their parents — are being forced to pay for apartments those students will never live in. “It’s been draining,” said 19-year-old SJSU student Paola Villalobos. Villalobos is a sophomore majoring in economics at San Jose State University. She thought she’d moving into a shared apartment near campus this week, but due to the pandemic, all of her classes are online and she no longer feels safe sharing a room. She has moved back in with her mom in Long Beach, but she’s still on the hook to pay rent in San Jose. Read More

San Jose Helping Businesses Open In Public Places To Survive Pandemic
SAN JOSE — A work out class in the middle of a plaza, a hair salon in the park, or maybe a restaurant in a parking garage are some of the ways San Jose is trying to utilize public places to help small businesses survive during the pandemic. Wednesday, people outside were listening to the sweet sounds of “The Boys of Summer” under the warm glow of cafe lights. The cozy outdoor dining space was created in the parking lot behind Vin Santo on Lincoln Avenue. “I’m just thankful that they have the opportunity to be able to open up and take in some revenue,” says Jeff Pettit, who was eating dinner with his friend Les at Vin Santo. The same is happening across the street at 20twenty Cheese Bar, but instead of a parking lot, it’s parking spaces. Read More

First Day Of School For San Jose Students A Very Different Distance Learning Experience
SAN JOSE — Students in San Jose attended their first day of school all online Wednesday after a last-minute deal this week allowing teachers who need to work from home to do so. The San Jose Teachers Association union says the majority are working from their school classrooms and distance learning this Fall will be ‘night and day’ from Spring. For teachers at Hoover Middle School, logging on at a virtually empty campus was the better option. “Being able to come to the classroom gives them more space and privacy to do their job,” said Hoover Middle School Principal Stephanie Palmeri-Farias. Read More

‘Nanobody’ Nasal Spray Could Stop Spread Of COVID-19 Virus
SAN FRANCISCO — University of California, San Francisco scientists have discovered a novel approach to fighting this pandemic, and the invention was inspired by what is naturally found in llamas. They invented an aerosolized spray that contains special molecules called nanobodies, which are antibody-like immune proteins. At UCSF, they are synthetic and made in the lab. But in nature, they’re found in llamas. If human clinical trials are successful, it may dramatically slow down the spread of the virus fueling the worldwide pandemic. “It’s an incredibly potent, powerful way to neutralize the SARS coronavirus,” said Dr. Aashish Manglik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF. Read More

CoCo County Supes Approve Spending ‘Cares’ Money On New Jail Deputies
MARTINEZ — Contra Costa County plans to spend $1.75 million in federal coronavirus relief on 24 new deputy sheriff positions, despite dozens of residents imploring the Board of Supervisors not to use that funding for law enforcement. The 24 deputies, including one lieutenant, will be tasked primarily with supporting the mental health of inmates at a remodeled Martinez Detention Facility. Sheriff David Livingston told supervisors on Aug. 4 that the deputies will provide “enhanced supervision” of inmates with mental health issues, allowing them more time out of their cells, more time for visits, more mental health programming, more timely medical appointments and intake that is more confidential and private. Read More

Phillips 66 Refinery In Rodeo Converting To Renewable Fuels
RODEO — For 124 years, the Phillips 66 Rodeo Refinery has processed crude oil into all manner of fuels. Phillips 66 now says it is saying goodbye to crude oil and hello to renewable fuels. “We can bring in used cooking oils. We can bring in vegetable oils. We can bring in fats and tallows and to be able to turn it into these cleaner burning transportation fuels that Californians require,“ said Renewable Energy Project Manager Nik Weinberg. Converting a large refinery away from crude to accept and recycle cooking oils is a major move. Phillips 66 says the project will take nearly five years to obtain permits and complete construction. “Once we fully transition the Rodeo Refinery, we will be the world’s largest renewable transportation fuel complex so, we’ll have over 800 million gallons per year,” said Lynn. “There’s a lot of work in front of us!” Read More

Airlines Try To Stay Safe Without Federally-Mandated COVID-19 Guidelines
OAKLAND — Recent statistics from the TSA show the number of people screened at U.S. airports daily is slowly increasing after it dropped below 90,000 in mid-April. But airlines continue to face a lot of confusion and uncertainty. “Right now it’s really the wild west out there,” says consumer reports aviation advisor, Bill McGee. That’s not exactly what you want to hear about air travel when you’re about to board a flight. There is no federal mandate for what airlines or passengers have to do to stay safe and healthy on board a plane, only a 24-page set of Department of Transportation recommendations, leaving the final call, McGee says, to the company itself. Read More

Bay Area Public Defenders Ask State To Release At-Risk San Quentin Inmates Amid COVID Outbreak
SAN QUENTIN — Four Bay Area public defenders are collaborating to seek the release of non-violent inmates from San Quentin State Prison, where a coronavirus outbreak has claimed 25 lives, a top lawyer in the San Francisco Public Defender’s office said Wednesday. Danielle Harris, managing attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, said conditions at San Quentin violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. “What we’re asking the Marin court to acknowledge is the [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] is at least deliberately indifferent to the lives and well-being of the people inside [San Quentin],” Harris said during a virtual news conference hosted by Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Harris said public defenders in Marin, Santa Clara and Alameda counties support filing writs of habeas corpus for San Quentin inmates, and at least 44 writs have been filed with the Marin County Superior Court. Read More

Governor: New Data Shows California is ‘Turning the Corner’ on COVID-19
SAN FRANCISCO — California is showing improvement in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, citing a significantly lower number of confirmed new cases as the state begins to clear backlogged cases from a data failure. The Democratic governor said he also was encouraged by a downward trend in the state’s hospitalization rates which he noted are down 21%, and ICU admissions, down 15% over the past 14 days. The number of newly confirmed cases Wednesday, 5,433, was “another indication that we’re turning the corner on this pandemic,” he said. The latest figures represent a significant drop from the record 12,807 new daily cases reported statewide during the spike in infections last month. Read More

San Jose Unified Allows Teachers To Work From Home In Last-Minute Reversal
SAN JOSE — The San Jose Unified School District has reversed a decision requiring all teachers to teach from their classrooms, a day before classes were set to begin under distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, the teachers union and the district struck a deal, hours before the start of classes in the large South Bay district. Under the new agreement, teachers must submit a form and register their decision to work from home beforehand. The decision is final and teachers cannot return to campus, but would be allowed to retrieve items. Teachers who fail to perform their duties while working from home could face discipline, including pay reduction. The agreement expires on September 26th. San Jose’s earlier decision requiring teachers to return to campus was criticized by the union as inflexible and unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic. Read More

San Mateo County Court Moves Jury Selection To Event Center For Social Distancing
SAN MATEO — The San Mateo County Superior Court in September will move jury selection for trials scheduled for the Hall of Justice in Redwood City to the Event Center in San Mateo. The move will happen sometime after Sept. 7, according to a news release from the County Manager’s Office on Tuesday. The change is being made to provide a large, well-ventilated space for safe social distancing during the interview and selection process, officials said. “The court hopes to address the large backlog of jury trials that has accumulated as a result of the pandemic and the associated social distancing and shelter-in-place orders,” Court Executive Officer Neal Taniguchi said in a statement. Read More

Uber CEO Warns Of California Shutdown If Ruling On Drivers Being Classified As Employees Is Upheld
SAN FRANCISCO — The CEO of Uber said Wednesday the ride-hailing giant may be forced to shut down its California operations if an injunction requiring drivers to be classified as employees is upheld. Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday that Uber’s operations in the state may have to shut down until November. Khosrowshahi’s announcement comes after a ruling by Judge Ethan Schulman of the San Francisco Superior Court earlier this week. Schulman ruled that ride-hailing companies must reclassify their drivers, who have been classified as independent contractors, in the wake of a new state law. Read More

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