CBS San Francisco Staff Report

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.

Pandemic Brings Puppy Shortage But Dogs, Cats At Shelters Still Need Forever Homes
PETALUMA — If all you wanted for Christmas is a puppy, you might be out of luck, this year. There is a puppy shortage during this pandemic depending on where you look. At Stage Gulch Goldens in Petaluma, two litters of puppies have already found their fur-ever homes. The demand for pups has been overwhelming. Shayla Toepfner with Stage Gulch Goldens says, “Normally in a regular year we get about 20 emails a month and during this pandemic, we’ve been receiving 200 to 300 emails a month. If you’re hoping to take one of the puppies home from Stage Gulch Goldens, it’s going to be quite a wait.“We have trained puppies available at 2021, untrained puppies won’t be available until 2022,” says Toepfner. Read More

COVID Vaccines Arrive, Bay Area Hospital Begin Giving Doses On Tuesday
SAN FRANCISCO — The first vaccines given Monday across the country kicked off the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history. An emergency room nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California was among the first in California to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, with Governor Gavin Newsom by her side. “What I want you guys to know is that help is on the way and this is the first step,” said ER nurse Kim Taylor. An ICU nurse at a New York City hospital was the first American to get the shot. “I hope this marks the beginning to the end of the very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” said nurse Sandra Lindsay. The first shipments of the vaccine arrived at hospitals across the Bay Area, on Monday. Read More

San Mateo Co. Stays Open But Local Officials Urge Non-Residents To ‘Stay Out’
REDWOOD CITY — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and fill up hospitals, officials in San Mateo County are now urging folks from neighboring counties to stay out. “We are in a public health crisis with alarming rates of COVID-19 transmission,” said Michael Callagy, the San Mateo County Manager in a statement emailed to KPIX. “While we absolutely support our local businesses serving our local community, we do not want non-essential travel and non-essential activities, such as crossing counties for an outdoor restaurant or salon. This is the time to stay close to home.” San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow decided last week that his county would not join five other Bay Area counties in preemptively declaring a stay-at-home order, in a regional effort to flatten the curve. Since then, people from other parts of the Bay Area are leaving their restricted counties to take advantage of the fact that San Mateo County continues to allow hair salons and outdoor dining to continue operations, officials said. Read More

Newsom Signs Order To Extend Tax Deadline For Small Businesses Until July 2021
SACRAMENTO — California small businesses will have more time to file their tax returns in 2021. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Monday giving small businesses until the end of July to file their first-quarter tax returns. More broadly, the order gives a 90-day extension on returns and payments for all businesses with returns of less than $1 million. It comes as California prepares to enter 2021 still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led Newsom to implement restrictions that have shuttered businesses. In most of the state, restaurants are closed for indoor dining, hair and nail salons can’t operate and stores can only allow in a fraction of customers. At minimum, it will be weeks before businesses can reopen. The tax extension was one piece of Newsom’s pandemic-related order. He also extended occupancy laws for farmworkers and their families in housing centers and dropped a requirement about how far away from the job workers must live to access that housing. Previously, workers had to live outside a 50-mile radius from the housing center for three of the past six months and could only live in the housing for 275 days out of the year. Read More

Vallejo City Hall Closed To Public Due To Surge In Coronavirus Cases
VALLEJO — The city of Vallejo is closing City Hall to the public due to the surge in coronavirus cases. The closure is effective Tuesday, December 15, but staff will continue to provide services remotely, according to a statement from the City Manager’s Office. The building is tentatively scheduled to reopen in early January, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in Solano County. Residents can use drop boxes for bills and other business matters located in front of City Hall, at 555 Santa Clara Street. Read More

Patrons Lament Upcoming Closure Of Famed Cliff House Restaurant – ‘This Is Horrible’
SAN FRANCISCO — Patrons of the Cliff House were lamenting the upcoming closure of the famed restaurant at the end of 2020. Overlooking Ocean Beach and known for its sweeping views, the Cliff House has a rich history. Once a bar and brothel in the late 1800s, it survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire but a year later, burned to the ground. In 1973, Dan and Mary Hountalas took over the restaurant with a long term lease from the National Park Service. Master Chef Ralph Burgin was on the call when the word came down, no more leases. “We were informed by the decision that the Park Service designates the Cliff House as a ‘Discontinued Operation,'” Burgin said. The Cliff House was already struggling due to COVID shutdown and chef says this was the final straw.”As a result, we have to close down and move out all our personal property. Put it in storage right now. Depending on how long it takes, it might have to be auctioned off.” Read More

Restaurants Suing Contra Costa Co. To Overturn Shutdown Must Prove ‘Irreparable Harm’
MARTINEZ — The latest stay-at-home orders have drawn criticism and even outright defiance from some businesses, but in Contra Costa County a group of restaurants is taking a different approach. They are taking the county to court. Then the Bar Cava Wine Bar and Eatery, in Martinez, had its outdoor seating area shut down, owner Corey Katz’s income quickly went to almost nothing. “I made $25 last Wednesday,” he said. Katz says he hasn’t seen any data that shows outside dining is spreading COVID-19 so he and three other restaurant owners in the county filed a lawsuit, Friday, to overturn the ban. His attorney, Joseph Tully, says the county has failed to prove harm. “All laws must be based in reason and they can’t be arbitrary,” he said. “And here they’re saying all outdoor dining has to be shut down but they’re not citing any science that would allow for that.” Read More

Santa Clara County’s Door-to-Door Coronavirus Testing Program Shows Promise
SAN JOSE — The initial feedback from Santa Clara County’s new door-to-door coronavirus testing program has been encouraging, according to public health officials. The pilot program, which was announced last week and began on December 10th, adds to the wide array of testing options in the South Bay. “We are still figuring out what a good day looks like, because every encounter is different,” said Santa Clara County Racial and Health Equity Senior Manager Dr. Analilia Garcia. “To date, we haven’t received news of any negative encounter. It’s actually been really positive and well received.” The county contracted with META (Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Accion), a community activist group based in East San Jose. Four teams of two people known as “promotores” — Spanish-speaking community health workers — fan out across the east side to administer the so-called “observed self-collection” COVID tests. Read More

Santa Clara County Ramps Up Effort To Help Homeless Quarantine With Cases Rising
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County is ramping up its program to help people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed but are struggling to effectively quarantine. “The county has developed many hotels that we’re able to use. So, the county is proud to be able to offer this to anyone who currently has no place to stay or is at risk of losing their place to stay,” says Dr. Sarah Rudman with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Since the start of the pandemic, the Public Health Department has provided hotel rooms for quarantine to more than a thousand people. According to a spokesperson for the department, they also provided food and rental assistance to more than 1,500 families who have struggled when forced to quarantine. But public health officials acknowledge the program has not always worked perfectly, occasionally allowing people to slip through the safety net it’s supposed to provide. Read More

COVID Surge Has Bay Area Emergency Medical First Response Teams Stretched Thin
SAN JOSE — As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the toll is mounting on the men and women who are often the very first responders. “We were there back in March at the Grand Princess cruise ship evacuating patients,” says American Medical Response Regional Director John Rey Hassan. “We sent personnel to New York City. It’s definitely pushed folks to the brink, and taxed resources to say the least.” From resources, to manpower, to raw physical endurance, 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. That goes for the helicopter teams used to evacuate critically ill COVID-19 patients from rural areas, and the ground units serving as both first responders and transport service. “As more and more hospital bed capacity gets taxed within we play the important role of moving those patients between facilities,” Hassan explains. With the pandemic stretching into its ninth month, EMS workers are now giving the same warning that we’ve been hearing recently from hospitals. Read More

Santa Clara County Revises Quarantine Guidance To 10 Days For Close Contacts, Travel
SAN JOSE — Health officials in Santa Clara County announced Monday that it has revised its COVID-19 quarantine recommendations, amid new guidance set out by state public health officials. The revised guidance now recommends 10 days of quarantine for those who are close contacts of persons with COVID-19 and those subject to the travel quarantine, down from 14 days. Officials stressed that while the time in quarantine has been shortened, people should monitor for potential symptoms for a full two weeks. “We are in a critical phase of our response to the pandemic and, especially as cases continue to increase rapidly increase across our region, we need everyone to closely follow public health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus,” said assistant health officer Dr. Sarah Rudman. Read More

COVID Work From Home: Google Delays Return To Office Until At Least September
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Google employees won’t be returning to the office until September. nd when they do, the Mountain View-based company said workers might not be going five days a week. In an email to employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company will test the idea of a flexible workweek where employees would work at least three days a week in the office for collaboration and at home for the rest of the time. The news was first reported by The New York Times. This summer, the company told workers they could work from home until July 2021. Google isn’t alone in its approach to a flexible work schedule. Read More

Newsom Urges Californians To Stay Vigilant As Vaccine Arrives; ‘Let’s Not Run The 90-Yard Dash’
LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday marked the arrival of California’s first doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine with enthusiasm, but cautioned residents not to drop their guard against the coronavirus as the state’s case number continued to climb. The governor spoke outside of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Monday afternoon after some of the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine were administered to hospital staff there. The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine left Michigan early Sunday for 145 distribution centers nationwide. California’s initial batch was expected to total 325,000 doses. n Monday, the state confirmed over 33,000 new COVID cases, an increase of 2.1% over the previous day’s reported total. California’s current 14-day positivity rate average stood at 10.5 percent. Read More

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Moves To Hawaiian Island While Company Moves HQ To Texas
REDWOOD SHORES — While software giant Oracle announced it would move its headquarters to Texas, becoming the latest Silicon Valley firm to leave the region, CEO Larry Ellison has reportedly moved to his Hawaiian island. According to a company email obtained by Vox, the billionaire was responding to questions about whether or not he would follow the company from its longtime headquarters in the Redwood Shores area of Redwood City to Austin. “The answer is no. I’ve moved to the state of Hawaii and I’ll be using the power of Zoom to work from the island of Lanai,” Ellison said, before ending his email with a “Mahalo.” Read More

UCSF Study: Temperature-Tracking Ring May Detect COVID Infection
SAN FRANCISCO — A temperature-monitoring ring may be able to determine when the wearer has been infected with the coronavirus, even when symptoms of the infection are subtle, according to a study led by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and UC San Diego. The preliminary study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, analyzed data from 50 people who wore a temperature-monitoring ring designed by the Finnish startup company Oura. While the study did not determine how effective the ring is at detecting the virus in asymptomatic patients, the Oura ring detected a fever in 38 of the 50 participants before symptoms were reported or noticed. According to senior author of the study and UCSF assistant professor Ashley Mason, the Oura ring’s continual temperature tracking is better suited to determining symptoms like a fever than a thermometer, which can’t necessarily account for regular temperature fluctuations. Read More

Vaccine Arrives At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital; Surge Of New Cases Tops 200 A Day
SAN FRANCISCO — A batch of 2,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monday morning as new cases of the virus continue to soar in the city, filling up beds in hospitals and intensive care units. Calling it a historical day, San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said vaccinations of front line health care workers at San Francisco General will begin immediately. “Obviously, it is incredibly important to begin vaccinating people are quickly as possible,” he told reporters on a Zoom call. While the vaccine carries with it future hopes in the battle against the virus, Colfax said residents can’t lose sight of the current dire situation unfolding within San Francisco. “It will be a long (vaccine) rollout and too late for this surge,” he said. Read More

South San Francisco Continuing Distance Learning Until Cases Drop Significantly
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Officials in the South San Francisco Unified School District decided last week to continue distance learning through the foreseeable future, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in San Mateo County and the Bay Area. The district’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted Thursday to keep schools under distance learning until cases drop to a level where San Mateo County returns to the Orange Tier under the state’s color-coded system. A previously scheduled return to hybrid learning on January 19, 2021 has been scrapped. “Student and staff safety are paramount in our school district,” said Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore said in a statement. “It’s also one of the foundations upon which we have designed our reopening of school plan.” Officials also cited a recent survey of more than 3,200 parents in the district, which found about 70% preferred to remain under distance learning, while only 23% wanted to transition to hybrid learning. Another 7% said they would abide by the judgment of teachers, who said in a separate survey that they decided to remain under distance learning. Read More

Attorney General Moves To Force Amazon To Comply With Coronavirus Safety Investigation
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday filed a petition requesting that the Sacramento County Superior Court order Amazon to comply with outstanding investigative subpoenas in regard with the company’s COVID protocols and coronavirus cases at its facilities. According to a news release issued by Becerra’s office, the state’s petition alleges that Amazon has failed to adequately comply with lawful requests for information as part of an ongoing investigation into coronavirus protocols and the status of COVID-19 cases at Amazon facilities across California. “Amazon has made billions during this pandemic relying on the labor of essential workers. Their workers get the job done while putting themselves at risk,” Becerra said in the release. “It’s critical to know if these workers are receiving the protections on the job that they are entitled to under the law.” Becerra went on to say Amazon has delayed responding to his office’s investigative requests long enough, noting “Time is of the essence.” Read More