SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With a surge in coronavirus cases, the information you need to know is coming fast and furious. Here’s a roundup of the COVID stories we’ve published over the last 24 hours.
Pfizer To Seek Emergency FDA Approval For COVID-19 Vaccine; Test Results 95% Effective, No Sign Effects
SAN FRANCISCO — With hospitalizations and new cases surging in the San Francisco Bay Area, there was new hope in the battle against the coronavirus Wednesday as Pfizer announced more encouraging interim results from its ongoing vaccine study suggesting the shots are 95% effective. More importantly, the vaccine also appears to protect older people most at risk of dying from COVID-19. The news comes as the Bay Area has backslid into more severe restrictions on businesses and lifestyle as new COVD cases have soared since Halloween. The announcement, just a week after Pfizer first revealed promising preliminary results, comes as the company is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine.
COVID-19 Outbreak Sickens 38 At Santa Cruz Skilled Nursing Facility
SANTA CRUZ — Officials in Santa Cruz are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at a skilled nursing facility. Santa Cruz Post Acute is the biggest site in the county with more than 100 people living there. As of Monday, 29 residents and nine staff members have tested positive for coronavirus. Officials said a small number of residents are hospitalized. The first case was reported 10 days ago and was caught because of surveillance testing. This is the third congregate living facility to experience an outbreak in Santa Cruz County.
One of those outbreaks, at a care center in Watsonville last month, has left 16 people dead. Across the country, coronavirus cases at nursing homes are spiking again.
New Wave Of Panic Buying Empties Bay Area Grocery Shelves
SAN JOSE — A new wave of panic buying is coinciding new COVID restrictions, a dramatic surge in cases, and traditionally, the busiest time of year for grocery stores. It was a familiar scene: empty shelves in the paper product aisles and the cleaning supplies section at a Target on Coleman Avenue, in San Jose. Same story at another Target on North First Street. Paper towels were going fast at a Whole Foods in San Francisco. “I think it’s ridiculous, honestly,” said Esmeralda Tovar of San Jose. “I think you know if… that’s what we’re after – toilet paper – that’s insane.” Magdalena Brown of San Jose didn’t get her hands on any such supplies Tuesday evening. She’s still working with the items she bought in bulk a few months ago.
Alameda Gym May Not Survive Second Shutdown As County Drops To Purple Tier
ALAMEDA — At the stroke of midnight, Alameda County drops back into the purple tier, Wednesday. It will force many businesses like gyms to close shop once again. Mariner Square Athletic Club in Alameda was hoping to celebrate its 40th anniversary next February. Over the last six weeks, they saw signs of hope the business can survive until this latest blow. Greg Matthews started coming to the Mariner Square Athletic Club as a 13-year-old. Now he’s the facility manager and fears his job maybe wiped out by the pandemic. “We’re not sure we will make it through the second round here. It’s a good chance that’s it. We’ve gone from 80 employees to 20 with the reopening and now we are basically going back to I don’t think we’re going to have bare bones because the money is all dried up,” said Matthews.
FDA Gives Emergency Approval To First COVID-19 Self-Testing Kit For Use At Home
EMERYVILLE — People will soon be able to test themselves for coronavirus and get their results in a matter of minutes in the privacy of their own homes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to Emeryville-based Lucira Health‘s COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit. “This is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home. This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. in a statement. The test is administered by swirling a nasal swab similar to those used by public and private health providers.
Santa Clara County Doubles COVID-19 Testing Capacity Ahead Of Holiday Season
SAN JOSE — The largest testing facility in the Bay Area plans to ramp up testing dramatically, ahead of the holiday season. Currently, the site at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds parking lot conducts 2500 tests per day. By Thanksgiving week, that will be increased to 3000 per day. And by early December, the site will reach its maximum capacity of 5000 tests per day, for at least three days a week. “We anticipate high demand for testing next week among those who are engaging in Thanksgiving plans. But we also want to make sure we have capacity for those who have symptoms, those who have been exposed, and who are most in need of testing,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Valley Medical Center, who oversees the county’s public testing sites. At the fairgrounds drive-thru site, 18 tents currently operate for six hours a day, as the vehicles snake around the mostly unused 14-acre lot. The average collection time is 15 minutes, but samples have been collected as quickly 6 minutes. To accommodate the increase, hours will be expanded for early morning appointments, and a second dayshift will be added.
Ole’s Waffle Shop In Alameda Fights To Survive As Indoor Dining Closes Again
ALAMEDA — With Alameda County closing all indoor dining due to re-entering the Purple Tier, an East Bay waffle shop dating back to the 1920s is in danger of closing. In much of the Bay Area, it’s the last night for indoor dining at restaurants, as counties that just moved back into the Purple Tier face another round of restrictions. Outdoor dining is still allowed under local county health guidelines, but recent rainy weather and cold temperatures have affected sales for many businesses. Ole’s Waffle Shop in Alameda, which has been around since 1927, is no exception. Owner Ken Moniz said indoor dining gave them a chance to survive, but this latest shutdown order means the decision to close their doors for good is getting closer.
San Francisco International Airport Workers Raise Concerns About Safety From Virus
SAN FRANCISCO INT’L AIRPORT — While officials at San Francisco International Airport are trying to reassure travelers that it is safe to fly during the COVID-19 pandemic, that message is being challenged by some airport workers. With stay at home orders once again tightening and Thanksgiving approaching, officials at the airport say it’s safe to fly and be inside the terminal, with masking, social distancing and hand sanitizing stations everywhere. “We actually use UV filtration in the air handling systems of this airport as well,” airport spokesperson Doug Yakel told KPIX 5. Yakel said safety is something the airport is handling at every level. “We are increasing the frequency of these buses. We are actually managing the capacity, if a bus is too full, we are asking people to wait until the next bus comes around. We’re doing the same with our AirTrain system.
Contra Costa Supervisors Advise ‘Hunkering Down’ Amid Coronavirus Case Spike
MARTINEZ — The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday issued an urgent plea with residents to curtail Thanksgiving gatherings, to continue with COVID-19 prevention basics like wearing face coverings and social distancing, and to remain vigilant amidst “COVID fatigue.” The calls to help limit the spread of the virus comes while the county has an average of 9.2 new COVID-19 cases per week — double the rate of just one week ago — and a tripling of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since Oct. 16. “If you gather, keep it safe, keep it short and keep it stable,” Anna Roth, Contra Costa County’s health director, told the supervisors (and the public) Tuesday morning. That means gatherings of 15 or fewer people, outside if at all possible, and for two hours or less. Roth said that hospitalizations in Contra Costa County have gone up from 21 on Oct. 16 to 48 on Monday, and then to 63 on Tuesday, an increase of 15 in one day. That, she said, is alarming.
California Woman Arrested On Maui For Alleged COVID-19 Quarantine Violations
MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii — Police on the Hawaiian island of Maui have arrested a California woman for alleged violations of the state’s COVID-19 quarantine orders. According to the Maui Police Department, 52-year-old Colleen Proppe traveled to Honolulu from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport on November 7 and arrived on Maui the following day. When Proppe arrived on the island, police said she did not have an exemption to the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement and failed to complete the mandatory health form. She also allegedly did not check into the lodging location where she was supposed to quarantine. Police said Proppe posted several pictures of her on Maui to her social media followers and was arrested on Saturday. She has been charged for violating emergency Rules and Orders and Unsworn Falsification to Authorities.
Oakland Museum Postpones Reopening After Alameda County Re-Enters Purple Tier
OAKLAND — The Oakland Museum of California announced Tuesday it will postpone its reopening plans, scheduled for later this month, after Alameda County was moved to the state’s most-restrictive coronavirus pandemic reopening tier. The OMCA announced last week that it would reopen Nov. 27 with three consecutive days of free public access after being closed since March, when the Bay Area began locking down because of the pandemic. However, after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state would move more than two dozen counties into the most-restrictive “purple tier,” including Alameda County, the museum said it would remain closed indefinitely. Counties in the purple tier are also explicitly prevented from reopening indoor museums.
Stimulus Package Update: Politicians Still Can’t Agree On Type Of Aid Or How Much To Spend
SAN FRANCISCO — Both Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for a second round of economic stimulus. What they disagree on is what form that stimulus should take and how much it should cost. Little progress has been made since the election. What can be done in the lame-duck session leading up the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden remains to be seen. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, “our focus in the Congress now, in this lame duck, continues to be on COVID relief. This is a red alert, all hands on deck. As Leader Schumer and I discussed yesterday, this is an emergency of the highest magnitude…” President Trump recently tweeted his support for another big round of stimulus once again.
Contra Costa Nonprofits Receive $1.6M to Help Ease Hardships
MARTINEZ — Two local non-profits donated $1.6 million in grants to community groups in Contra Costa County helping groups in need with food, shelter and other necessities. The Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation, in partnership Silicon Valley Community Foundation, provided grants to 44 community organizations ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 from the health foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. The grants target needs in food supply and distribution, shelter and emergency housing, financial assistance, public health interventions and other emerging needs including support for essential workers. Following the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order in mid-March, the health foundation launched its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.
Marin County Restaurants Brace For Winter Weather Amid Indoor Dining Shutdown
MARIN COUNTY — Skyrocketing coronavirus cases and the closure of indoor dining in parts of the Bay Area have left some restaurant owners wondering if they will be able to survive into next year. As clouds gather for the next round of rain in the region, another storm is on the horizon for many. A financial one, as Bay Area businesses like the Lighthouse Cafe are forced back outside by the spike in COVID cases. “We got a couple of big canopies and are setting them up now and will see if that can give us a little business at least. But it’s very challenging,” said Lighthouse Cafe owner Gerner Aneresen. The pandemic has already taken a toll on many Bay Area businesses that were shuttered during months sheltering in place.
Stanford Study Finds Blacks, Hispanics Make Up More Than Half of COVID-19 Deaths
STANFORD — Stanford researchers published a study Tuesday that found that more than half of all in-hospital deaths from COVID-19 over the first six months of the pandemic were Black and Hispanic patients. With help from Duke University researchers, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine looked at 7,868 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus at 88 hospitals across the country between Jan. 17 and July 22. Data showed that 53% of those deaths were Black and Hispanic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a spotlight on racial and ethnic disparities in health care that have been happening for years,” said Dr. Fatima Rodriguez, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford and lead author of the study. “Our study shows an over-representation of Black and Hispanic patients in terms of morbidity and mortality that needs to be addressed upstream before hospitalization.”
Zoom To Lift 40 Minute Time Limit For Free Meetings On Thanksgiving
SAN JOSE — The holidays are upon us and one tech company is already in the giving spirit. Zoom announced it will lift its timed meeting limit on Thanksgiving so “your family gatherings don’t get cut short.” The video communications company headquartered in San Jose announced in a tweet that the 40-minute time limit it usually has on its free meetings will be lifted globally on November 26 (Thanksgiving Day). The tech giant has done extremely well since the start of the pandemic when schools and offices around the world were forced to move operations entirely online; though it is worth noting that Zoom’s stock plunged after last week’s news that Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate vaccine for Covid-19 was 90% effective in early trials.