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

Black Restaurant Week Showcases American, Caribbean, African Cuisine, Helps Small Businesses

OAKLAND — The pandemic has hit the restaurant industry particularly hard.On Monday, Black Restaurant Week kicked off in the Bay Area and it’s meant to shine a spotlight on small businesses that would normally not have the marketing dollars to promote their eateries. In 2017, there were just 12 restaurants participating in Black Restaurant Week in the Bay Area. This year, that number has more than doubled. Italian eatery Marzano in Oakland is participating for the first time. “Supporting us and supporting our business, yes it is personal to us because this business is our baby but it is also a place of employment for many families. It’s a way for many families to provide for their children,” said Marzano owner Manna Tekie. Read More
 
For Uplifting Stories Of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Visit Our Better Together Section


No Fans In Stands At San Francisco 49ers Games, For Now
SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers opted to play their season opener without fans, but gave the ‘Faithful’ some hope, on Tuesday, when the team said communications with county health leaders were ongoing about the possibility of having fans sometime this season. But while the 49ers defend their NFC Champion title this year on the field, already struggling business owners off the field will be counting their losses without football fans flooding into Santa Clara. “We anticipated this to some degree, but it will keep us from hiring additional people, bringing people back that were here before,” said Jonathan Burgess. He and his brother, Matt Burgess, own and operate the Churwaffle booth inside . Read More

Online Learning Problems Persist For Students, Teachers In San Jose Unified School District
SAN JOSE — One of the South Bay’s largest school systems has been scrambling to close a wide gap in attendance and equipment issues that have been major obstacles to effective online learning. “We had some struggles in the beginning with the equipment that was provided. One of the devices that we had actually had a hard time logging onto the system,” said parent Anthony Ricalde of the first few days of the new school year at Ann Darling Elementary in San Jose. Ricalde says he has generally been pleased with the quality of online instruction for his daughter Ava and son Aaron once those technical issues were ironed out. But the first-day attendance numbers at Ann Darling Elementary highlight a wide attendance and achievement disparity separating some of San Jose Unified’s wealthier and poorer school. Read More

Frustrated SF Small Business Owners Make Case For Reopening On Steps Of City Hall
SAN FRANCISCO — On the steps of San Francisco City Hall, small business owners, particularly those who run gyms and hair salons came out to protest the current COVID-19 restrictions, saying they need to open up now to have a chance at survival. “We haven’t had any business, we’ve had about a 80 percent loss,” said Michael Jigalin owner of Jigalin Fitness. Around the city, it’s hard to miss the ‘For Lease’ signs and plywood on windows. According to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, 1300 small businesses are not in operation right now. “Before the pandemic, we were really about a 7 percent commercial vacancy rate, a 7 percent storefront vacancy rate in San Francisco – that 7 percent has skyrocketed to over 50 percent,” says Jay Cheng, public policy director for the Chamber. Read More

Bed, Bath & Beyond Cutting 2,800 Jobs Citing Shift To Online Sales
NEW YORK — Bed Bath & Beyond said Tuesday that it’s cutting 2,800 jobs at its corporate headquarters and stores — about 5% of its overall workforce — as the troubled home goods retailer looks to pivot more of its business online. The company said the job cuts will save it about $150 million a year, before taxes. The figure represents a portion of the anticipated savings from a corporate restructuring plan announced earlier this year. The Union, New Jersey-based company said the action is designed to reduce layers at the corporate level, reposition field operations to better serve customers who are shopping more online, as well as realign technology, its supply network and merchandising teams. The moves build on Bed Bath & Beyond’s recent introduction of services like allowing online shoppers to pickup items in the store or at curbside. Read More

California OKs School Return for Kids With Special Needs
SACRAMENTO — More California children with specialized needs, such as students with disabilities or those who are homeless, will be allowed back in classrooms even as most schools remain shut for in-person learning under new state guidance released Tuesday.  Schools in most counties are closed for in-person learning because of the coronavirus. But the new guidance would allow the return to school for some children in grades K-12 in groups of up to 14 students. The limited return to school applies to students needing special care, such those with disabilities, English language learners, kids at risk of abuse or neglect or students who are homeless. It’s aimed at ensuring the students can access services like occupational therapy, speech and language services and individualized education programs. Statewide, counties can begin reopening schools for all children if they are off a state watch list that tracks virus cases, infection rates and hospitalizations for two weeks. Read More

Stanford Psychologist: COVID-19, Wildfires Taking Toll On Kids’ Mental Health
SAN FRANCISCO — Pandemic. Social Distancing. Distance Learning. And now wildfires. All of these events have caused a lot of stress and anxiety. And if you think it’s bad for adults, it can be worse for kids and have longer-lasting effects. “Many families are having the acute stress of having to evacuate or worried about their lives or worried about their homes so they’re having a different level of a trauma experience,” said Dr. Barbara Bentley, Pediatric Psychologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. “It’s important to mitigate the acute stress so that it doesn’t go on to be a clinical symptom.” Dr. Bentley said children at different developmental levels have different responses to stress. Preschoolers may get clingier and need more physical comfort. Read More

HHS Secretary: Counties Should Issue Labor Day Covid-19 Guidance ASAP
SACRAMENTO — California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that counties should begin issuing guidance for Labor Day weekend as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ghaly warned that large family and social gatherings during the holiday weekend could dismantle the progress the state has made in recent weeks in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As the state vacillates between reopening and closing certain medium- and high-risk industries, Ghaly said the most pertinent thing public health officials have learned since the pandemic began is the role individual people play in supporting health and safety protocols. “This sneaky virus that we call COVID-19 doesn’t take a rest,” he said. “It will find every opportunity to transit from person to person because that’s what germs do.” Read More

SFMTA Director: Muni Bus Service Thriving As Light Rail Service Shuts Down Again
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency director of transportation Jeffrey Tumlin on Tuesday said although the agency is facing challenges with the Muni rail service, having shut down all rail service the previous night, the agency’s bus system is thriving. Muni Metro rail service had resumed on Saturday after shutting down back in April due to COVID-19, but late Monday the agency announced it was discontinuing service for several weeks after two splices in the subway overhead wire failed and someone within the agency’s Transportation Management Center tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, starting Tuesday all rail service has been replaced with bus service. Read More

Auditor: California’s Coronavirus Spending at ‘High Risk’
SACRAMENTO — California is getting so much money from the federal government because of the coronavirus — more than $71 billion — that the state’s auditor on Tuesday warned Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration it is at high risk of waste, fraud and abuse. In a letter to Newsom and legislative leaders, State Auditor Elaine Howle said she was invoking a state law giving her authority to keep a close watch on 18 government agencies in charge of overseeing the spending.  “The swift appropriation of federal COVID-19 funds, along with the prior audit findings, raise the possibility that responsible state agencies do not have adequate processes in place to address these risks,” Howle wrote. Howle’s office identified more than $71 billion in federal coronavirus aid that the state has either received or is expected to receive to operate 35 federal programs. Read More

More Than Half Of San Francisco Storefronts Closed Due To Pandemic
SAN FRANCISCO — More than half of all storefronts in San Francisco are no longer in business due to COVID-19, according to the survey by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “The survey showed only 46 percent of storefront businesses in San Francisco that were open at the beginning of the pandemic are still operating,” said Jay Cheng, spokesman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. That means 1,200 stores are still open, while about 1,300 have closed, Cheng said. “There’s a lot of reasons for that. If you’re a fitness studio, you can’t open because of the pandemic. If you’re a retail space, you could open, but you might have decided that there isn’t enough foot traffic or enough customer base to make that worthwhile to reopen. So it’s become a very difficult situation,” Cheng said. Read More

SF Muni Rail Shuts Down After Worker Tests Positive For COVID-19, Equipment Problems
SAN FRANCISCO — Muni rail service is shutting down in San Francisco again for the next several weeks starting Tuesday, three days after it resumed following five months of being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Muni Metro system had resumed Saturday but is shutting down for the foreseeable future after two splices in the subway overhead wire failed and someone in the system’s control center tested positive for COVID-19. Starting Tuesday, all rail service will be provided by bus. More details about how the closures are affecting various lines can be found at sfmta.com/travel-updates/bus-substitution-all-rail-lines. Jeffrey Tumlin, director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, wrote on Twitter about the problems and apologized to Muni riders who will be affected. Read More

Farm Workers Already Challenged By COVID Labor Through Heat And Wildfire Smoke
WATSONVILLE — The recent heat wave and wildfire smoke have made for especially tough times for farm workers who were already struggling with COVID-19. Farm workers continue to stay out in the fields, but now some of them are starting to speak out about the difficult and dangerous conditions they’ve been working through. “It’s very hot. There’s a lot of dust. We have a hard time breathing. We get headaches and sore throats,” said Antonia, a single mother of four who picked strawberries in the Watsonville area in 100 degree heat last week. “We have to keep working. If we don’t work, how are we going to live?” Antonia says her employers only give workers drinking water. They do not provide any of the workers with masks, gloves or other protective equipment, which is a violation of California law, according to Cal/OSHA officials. Read More

California EDD Not Answering 60% Of Calls Due To Surge In Unemployment Claims
SACRAMENTO — California’s unemployment agency is not answering 60% of the calls it receives for help as the overwhelmed department struggles to work through a backlog of more than 1 million pending claims five months into the pandemic. Employment Development Department Director Sharon Hilliard told a panel of frustrated state lawmakers on Monday that the agency is on pace to have 3,700 people working in its call center by January, up from the 350 employees prior to the pandemic. Hilliard indicated the agency was not prepared to handle the unprecedented surge in unemployment claims prompted by the coronavirus. She said the industry standard is to answer about 80% of calls, but even before the pandemic hit, when California’s booming economy led to record low unemployment, the agency was only answering 54% of calls. Read More

Newsom To Release Reopening Guidelines For Counties On COVID Watch List
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he plans to release concrete reopening guidelines later this week for counties that fall off the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list. Most of the greater Bay Area’s counties are on the monitoring list for elevated coronavirus case and hospitalization levels, though the total number of counties currently on the list has dropped to 35. Napa and Santa Cruz counties fell off the list over the last 10 days, allowing them to reopen indoor operations for businesses like hair salons and gyms as well as places of worship. However, the state has given little instruction to the eight counties that have fallen off the list in recent weeks about how quickly they can resume indoor operations for certain businesses. Read More

Coronavirus Pandemic Impacts 2020 Census Count Among Immigrant Communities In Santa Clara County
SAN JOSE — The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has sowed chaos and isolation in Santa Clara County’s immigrant communities, making it harder to collect census data, a county official said Monday. Much like other metropolitan areas across the country, the pandemic has hit the county’s immigrant communities disproportionately, according to county Office of Immigrant Relations director Zelica Rodriguez.
Roughly 60 percent of the county’s residents are immigrants or children of immigrants. Latino and Hispanic residents have been particularly hard-hit, according to county data, making up just over 25 percent of the county population but nearly 55 percent of the county’s coronavirus cases. “It’s definitely created a lot of chaos, fear, confusion,” Rodriguez said of the pandemic. Read More

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