SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The tsunami of news about the coronavirus outbreak, reopenings and school classes starting 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.

Good News — Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Support Group Gives Comfort To Grieving Owners Mourning Loss Of Beloved Pets
SAN FRANCISCO — The isolation of the pandemic has given rise to a new breed of counselors for people mourning the loss of their beloved pets. Bernadette Grimes felt unspeakable pain when her 13-year-old pet, Gretal, died. “Gretal followed me around everywhere. Gretal had to sit on my lap. If I sat down, she had to be on top of my lap,” Grimes said of her dog. “Sometimes the grief is so overwhelming, it feels like your heart’s going to break in two.” Grimes has found comfort in a grief group for people who’ve lost their pets. Read More
For Uplifting Stories Of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Visit Our Better Together Section

SJ Salon Owner Who Never Shut Down Supports Salons Opening In Defiance Of COVID-19 Shutdown
SAN JOSE — Thousands of California hair salon and barbershop owners opened their doors on Monday to protest the state’s health order, but one man in San Jose said he never shut down and he’ll continue to stay open. “I vowed to my staff on day one that we would remain open until they came and took me away in cuffs,” said Salon Blu owner James Griffiths. “We’ve been open all along.” In the four months that Griffiths has continued to take clients and snuck them through the back door, he said. Griffiths has never gotten in trouble despite calls from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office and visits from police. Read More

Woman Shouts Racist Abuse At Colombian-Born Parks Worker In Dolores Park
SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco Rec and Park employee posted video on social media of a weekend encounter with an unmasked woman who approached with scissors in hand while going on a racist tirade. The employee who was targeted with the abuse, a San Franciscan named Andrés Patino was doing outreach work with the San Francisco Rec and Park Department’s Love Dolores campaign when a woman approached who was not wearing face covering as mandated by city and state health orders. The woman was holding a pair of scissors and, according to Patino, using them to cut down the signs blocking the playground in the park from public use due to the pandemic. Read More

Patino decided to follow her and record video.
Former LGBTQ Talk Show Host Tim Gaskin Recorded in Homophobic, Anti-Mask Rant
CAMPBELL — A man recorded ranting against wearing masks, using homophobic language and exposing himself in a Marshall’s department store in Campbell Monday was identified as Tim Gaskin, a former San Francisco artist, magazine editor and television show host. Several posters on identified the ranter as the 52-year-old Gaskin, a media figure who made a name for himself in San Francisco in the mid-2000s.< The video, shared by San Jose DJ Eddie House, shows Gaskin speaking angrily to a store employee and a man filming him about the store’s mask-wearing requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More

Supes Vote To Partially Close Beaches In Unincorporated Santa Cruz Co. Labor Day Weekend
SANTA CRUZ — Beaches in unincorporated Santa Cruz County will be closed during the upcoming Labor Day weekend to discourage non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made on Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors, who unanimously approved the closures. Beaches will be partially closed on Sept. 5 at 5 a.m. through Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. Beach crossings to access the ocean for water activities like surfing, swimming, or kayaking is permissible. Parkways, sidewalks and trails adjacent to the beach will also remain open. The beaches will be open to the public on Sept. 5 through Sept. 6 between the hours of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios said cities in Monterey County will also be enacting beach closures over the three-day weekend. Read More

Free, High-Capacity COVID-19 Test Site Opens At Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County opened a new COVID-19 testing site Tuesday at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose that will be able to test 1,000 people daily by the end of the week. It will have the ability to expand up to 5,000 tests per day – making it the largest test site in the Bay Area. Still seeing some 275 positive tests a day, Santa Clara County is aiming to expand its testing capacity with the region’s first large-scale testing site. “We started here as really ground zero for COVID in the United States. And six months in, we’re still fighting,” said Santa Clara County Health officer Dr. Sarah Cody. They were still painting stripes on the ground Tuesday morning, but cars were lined up when the gates opened at noon. Read More

Santa Cruz County Extends Eviction Moratorium Through September
SANTA  CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on Tuesday an extension for a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions until Sept. 30. The moratorium intends to alleviate some of the income loss and out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic until the state can come up with a solution. “We need to take some action, I believe today, to protect our tenants affected by COVID-19 until there is more clarity from the state as a whole,” said Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who co-authored the resolution. “We encourage renters to work with landlords and vice versa on terms of repayment. So, I am very, very hopeful that a state solution is coming in the next two weeks … So, I think this is a valid way to  temporarily address this issue.” Read More

Contra Costa Health Officials To Accept In-Person Education Waiver Applications
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY — Starting Wednesday, public and private elementary schools in Contra Costa County can submit applications to allow in-person teaching on their campuses by obtaining a public health waiver from Contra Costa Health Services, the county announced Tuesday. State guidelines issued in July by Gov. Gavin Newsom say such waivers may be granted when requested by a local superintendent, or by a charter school or private school equivalent administrator, in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations. Local health officers must review local community epidemiological data, consider other public health intervention and consult with the state Department of Public Health when considering a waiver request, Contra Costa health officials said. “We feel like we’ve reached a point where it makes sense to consider requests from elementary schools to reopen,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer, said in a statement. Read More

San Mateo County Inmates Accused Of $150K COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Fraud
REDWOOD CITY — More than 20 people, including multiple state and local inmates, are accused of netting more than $150,000 in fraudulent COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic unemployment insurance, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. A total of 13 current inmates at the Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City and the state prison system and eight people who were out of custody at the time are accused of the fraud scheme, according to Assistant District Attorney Sean Gallagher. The case’s defendants are accused of filing 16 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims with the California Economic Development Department, Gallagher said, resulting in a payout of more than $150,000, a number that could increase as the investigation continues. The district attorney’s office and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating the alleged fraud “for well over a month,” Gallagher said. Read More

San Francisco General Hospital Needs Helps Identifying Patient
SAN FRANCISCO — The Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital asked the public Tuesday to help identify one of its patients. The patient, believed to be in her 50s, was hospitalized after she was found unconscious near a large hotel by San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on Sunday around 3 p.m. Hospital officials described her as being five feet tall and weighing about 150 points, with curly brown hair and dentures. At the time of her hospitalization she was wearing black fabric mask with a yellow flower printed on it. Read More

Pleasant Hill Cancels 2020 Council Elections; No Challengers Running Against Incumbents
PLEASANT HILL — With no challengers to the three incumbent Pleasant Hill City Council members up for re-election in November, the council on Monday canceled its local November election. In a directly related action, the City Council also appointed those three unopposed incumbents — Mayor Matthew Rinn and Councilmembers Ken Carlson and Tim Flaherty — to fill those three “open” spots, effective in December, when those four-year terms end. In December, Carlson and Flaherty will begin their third four-year council terms, and Rinn his second term. Similarly, City Treasurer Mark Celio was also reappointed to that post, effective in December. Celio also did not draw any opponents for the treasurer’s position. Read More

San Francisco Health Order Allows For K Thru 6th Grade Community Learning Hubs
SAN FRANCISCO — Distance learning for San Francisco students started on Monday and with it Mayor London Breed announced the city’s latest health order effective immediately, allowing for Community Learning Hubs for students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The city remains on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist due to a rise in cases and school buildings remain closed. But, according to city health officials, in-person educational and recreational activities are crucial to the well-being of children. The order requires that educational and recreational programs providing care or supervision for school-aged children adhere to safety standards like limited capacity, face coverings, social distancing, health monitoring and cleaning protocols. With the order in effect, the city-operated Community Learning Hubs can launch on Sept. 14, providing full-day, in-person support for as many as 6,000 disadvantaged students. Read More

Santa Clara County Adds COVID-19 Testing Appointment Slots, Increases Capacity
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County continues to provide appointment and drop-in COVID-19 testing sites, with more appointment slots added this week. Locations change every week based on testing needs in the county. This week, appointment-only testing will be conducted in San Jose, Los Gatos, Mountain View, Cupertino, Campbell and Milpitas. Appointments can be made three days in advance of the testing date until slots are filled and are open to all county residents who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. One of the locations is at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose. KPIX 5 reporter Wilson Walker said the location plans to conduct 1,000 tests per day at the end of the week, with hopes of 5,000 per day eventually. Read More

‘He Paid With His Life’ During COVID-19 Pandemic; San Francisco Woman Delivers Emotional Convention Speech
SAN FRANCISCO — Anger welled up in Kristin Urquiza’s voice. Her beloved father was among the hundreds of thousands who have died during COVID-19 pandemic. His “only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump.” Kristin Urquiza, whose father Mark Urquiza died from the virus in June, said in a video message Monday night on the first night of the Democratic National Convention that he “paid with his life” by trusting the President’s repeated insistence that the pandemic would go away. “The coronavirus has made clear that there are two Americas: the America that Donald Trump lives in and the America that my father died in,” she said. “Enough is enough. Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse.” Read More

Hundreds Of SFUSD School Bus Drivers Laid Off Due To ‘Non-Service’ During Pandemic
SAN FRANCISCO — All of the bus drivers who transport children to and from schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) are being laid off, effective August 31, according to Sharon Chappill. Chappill has been a school bus driver for 38 years and is president of SMART, Local 1741, the union that represents bus drivers, dispatchers and other staff. “This is my layoff notice,” said Chappill, holding up a letter. Chappill confirms all 249 school bus drivers are now receiving layoff notices. She said many are wrought with emotion.”They’re crying, of course,” Chappill said. “I’m short of crying right now. Because they don’t know what to do.” Read More

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Attempt To Roll Back Health Care Protections For Transgender People
WASHINGTON — A federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Monday from enforcing a new regulation that would roll back health care protections for transgender people. Finalized days after the Supreme Court barred sex discrimination against LGBT individuals on the job, the regulation from the federal Department of Health and Human Services was to have taken effect Tuesday. Monday’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn bars the administration from enforcing the regulation until the case can be heard in court and decided. Block indicated he thought the Trump administration’s so-called transgender rule is invalid in light of the Supreme Court ruling in June on a case involving similar issues in the context of job discrimination. Read More

FDA Expands List Of Unsafe Hand Sanitizers That Won’t Protect Against COVID-19
WASHINGTON — For months, the Food and Drug Administration has been urging U.S. consumers to avoid a growing list of hand sanitizers that may contain toxic substances. Now the agency is warning of another problem: Some brands may not be strong enough to kill the coronavirus. To work, sanitizers must have a sufficient amount of at least one of two kinds of alcohol. They have to have be at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those levels are also safe on human skin. According to the FDA, the sanitizer products are “sub-potent,” meaning they lack enough of the active ingredients that protect people from infection. Read More

San Francisco Unified Kicks Off School Year With Distance-Learning Concerns
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Unified School District is the latest Bay Area district to begin the new school year with online learning only amid deep concerns about the quality of instruction students will receive. “Some parents had two half-hour Zoom meetings a week and the rest of the time was independent learning for the kids. So there wasn’t a lot of structure,” said SF parent Kathleen Reed. Reed says her nine-year-old daughter Sophia had a genuinely good experience with online learning in the spring. She said Sophia’s teacher offered detailed daily lesson plans and made a concerted effort to keep the students connected and engaged. But Reed says she heard other parents describe nightmarish scenarios in which little instruction or learning occurred during the rocky rollout of distance learning in the spring. Read More

Gap Permanently Closing Stores In San Francisco’s Embarcadero, Market Street, Stonestown
SAN FRANCISC) — Gap Inc. is permanently closing three of its stores in San Francisco, according to a report. The retailer is shuttering stores in Embarcadero Center, Stonestown Galleria and its flagship store on Market Street, a few blocks from Union Square, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Last March, Gap Inc. temporarily closed all of its North American stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, representing about 90 percent of its global retail presence. As a result, sales for the first quarter of 2020 were down 43 percent from the same period last year. In contrast, online sales increased 13 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Read More

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