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.

Marin County Runs Out Of ICU Beds; ‘Transmission Is Accelerating Exponentially’
SAN RAFAEL — With new COVID cases and hospitalizations continuing to soar, Marin has become the first Bay Area county to reach its maximum ICU capacity. On Tuesday, county health officials reported that all their fully staffed intensive care beds at Marin’s three hospitals were now in use. Of those being treated, 12 of the county’s 29 beds are occupied by COVID patients. “We know that community transmission is accelerating exponentially,” Dr. Matt Willis told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “Our hospitals are at or near full capacity, and case rates in Marin are four times higher than one month ago.” And that’s with the surge in new cases stemming back to the Thanksgiving holiday still accelerating. During his Tuesday COVID update, Gov. Gavin Newson reminded Californians that while the COVID vaccine rollout has begun, it will not directly impact the current surge in cases which is filling up hospital rooms, morgues and ICUs at an alarming rate. Read More

Coronavirus Grim Toll Soars; State Purchases Cache Of 5,000 Body Bags; Launches Emotional PSA
SAN FRANCISCO — While Gov. Gavin Newsom began his weekly COVID update on an upbeat note as health care workers began receiving the Pfizer vaccine, he ended with the grim death toll the pandemic continues to take all across California. Over the last 24 hours, 142 people have died of COVID complications in California. Over the last 14 days, the state has averaged 163 deaths a day. On November 14, that average was 41 a day. “Think about if we continue on the path we are (during the surge) what that January 14th number could look like,” Newsom said. In Santa Clara County, health officials reported 24 new deaths on Tuesday while Los Angeles County had 86 and San Diego County had 32 fatalities. Read More

‘Optimistic 48 Hours’; Newsom Hopes To Distribute 2.1 Million Vaccine Doses By End Of Month
SACRAMENTO — With front line health care workers across the state beginning to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he hopes to distribute 2.1 million doses throughout California by the end December. But that optimistic projection still needs the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health for widespread use. A panel of outside experts is expected to vote to recommend the vaccine on Thursday, with the FDA’s green light coming soon thereafter. Currently, the state is distributing its first 327,000 dose allotment from Pfizer/BioNTech. Newsom took to twitter late Monday to announce a second shipment was also on the way. “Some good news, we just got word from Pfizer that we are going to receive an additional 393,000 doses of their vaccine next week,” Newsom said. “So, first vaccines out to 4 locations in the state today (Monday) — San Diego, Los Angeles, Eureka and San Francisco. 24 additional locations will have distribution of vaccine tomorrow (Tuesday) and five more on Wednesday.” Read More

Critical Care Doctor, Intensive Care Nurse First To Receive COVID-19 Vaccines At SF General Hospital
SAN FRANCISCO — A critical care doctor and an intensive care nurse received San Francisco’s first COVID-19 vaccination shots Tuesday as the initial allotment from Pfizer was being distributed and administered to front line health care workers at Bay Area hospitals. A batch of 2,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday. On Tuesday, Dr. Antonio Gomez and intensive care nurse Phung Nguyen were the first to receive the shots. “This is a historic day for our city and, we hope, the start of a turning point in our response to COVID-19,” said Breed. “This has been a really tough year, and this is good news for our city and for the fight against COVID. It gives us some much-needed hope during an otherwise challenging and uncertain time.” Read More

San Jose’s Sacred Heart Keeps Christmas Toy Drive Alive Despite Setbacks
SAN JOSE — Sacred Heart Community Service launched its annual toy drive on Monday, but in 2020, just like nearly everything else, this holiday giving event looks very different, and the needs are much greater. The annual San Jose-based toy drive, known as “Toy Box”, has provided gifts to South Bay families for decades, but this year it switched from a festive ‘mini mall’ of toys to a social-distanced line for gift card pick up. “In light of COVID we tried to do something that involves less contact hence the gift cards,” Demone Carter, director of community engagement said. “We lost that community aspect that was very special…but what we gained is giving families the choice on what to give their kids.” The switch from toys to $50 Target gift cards certainly didn’t push families away. More than 2,300 families registered within a week — serving at least 6,000 children and reaching the nonprofit’s capacity. Read More

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Debuts ‘Holiday In The Park’ Drive-Thru Experience
VALLEJO — What used to be a walk-thru holiday experience is now a drive-thru one. For the first time ever, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom redesigned “Holiday in the Park” to entertain people from their cars. It is the only such event in a Northern California theme park. The 20-minute ride features festive displays and more than a million lights choreographed to music, along a mile-long stretch. “It was really cool that they’re adapting to COVID, so that we can drive through and still enjoy the lights,” said Mckenzie Salinas of Rohnert Park. Solano County, where the park is located, is one of the few Bay Area counties that does not yet have a stay-at-home order. “It’s really nice, I like that I can get out and do something rather than be stuck inside,” said Sam Aparicio of Walnut Creek. “They had all the people waving and stuff like that it was really neat.” Read More

Contra Costa Co. Gets A Dose Of Hope As Doctors Roll Up Their Sleeves To Get Vaccine
MARTINEZ — A dose of hope is spreading throughout the Bay Area as the first vaccinations take place from San Francisco to Martinez. According to Contra Costa Health, more than 9000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been sent to the Regional Medical Center. It’s a small number but the hope is with each dose, the Bay Area can finally contain the coronavirus. “This is one step closer to a normal world,” said Dr. Sergio Urcuyo, who was the first in Contra Costa County to get the vaccine. Now he has taken the first step to protect those that he loves the most. “What I always worry about is I have a wife and kid back home and I always worry about them,” said Dr. Urcuyo. This was the day all frontline workers have been waiting for nearly 11 months. Dr. Antonio Gomez at San Francisco General Hospital earned the distinction of being the first one in the Bay Area to get the vaccine. He treats some of the sickest COVID-19 patients at the hospital. Read More

First Doses Arriving In Santa Clara County Go To Skilled Nursing Facilities
SAN JOSE — The first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Santa Clara County on Tuesday, marking the next chapter in the battle against the worldwide pandemic, with healthcare professionals mobilizing across the South Bay to distribute the hundreds of thousands of doses that are expected in the coming weeks and months. Tuesday’s allotment was delivered at 7:30 a.m., in cardboard boxes carrying FedEx’s “priority boarding” designation. The 5,850 doses were packed in dry ice and were immediately stored in ultra-cold freezers at around -70C. The county’s Public Health Department has begun scheduling appointments with staffers at skilled nursing facilities, and will administer the first doses this week. By December 17 or 18, another 11,700 doses will arrive in the county, which have already been allocated to acute care hospitals. The doses were assigned to each facility based on need and staffing levels. Read More

No Fine Increases, But Contra Costa Supervisors Plead For Compliance
MARTINEZ — Following emotional, at times intense testimony from both the public and from supervisors, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday chose not to raise administrative fines for businesses that violate the county’s COVID-19-related health orders, saying steep fines would only further harm businesses already barely surviving. County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who a week earlier had suggested such fine could go to $10,000 or $20,000 to discourage some habitual violators of health order rules, said Tuesday that the current fines aren’t working. She said a group of Danville restaurants openly defying orders to end outdoor dining will keep operating, as will a business in her own central county district that has opted to rack up $1,000-a-day fines rather than obey the rules. Mitchoff also acknowledged the angry responses to her comments of last week. She read one she received Tuesday; it said, in part, “F you, bitch, sleep lightly, karma is a m—–f—–.” She didn’t censor the words. Read More

Walnut Creek Mulls Cash Grants To Struggling Establishments
WALNUT CREEK — The city of Walnut Creek is considering a plan to offer cash lifelines to businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while it may not solve their financial problems, it may offer a way to hang on until real help can arrive. Much of Walnut Creek’s fortunes ride on the success of its restaurants and nightspots. There are 117 restaurants and bars in its downtown area alone.  But with the coronavirus shutting so many of them down, the city is desperately looking for a way to help them survive. Walnut Creek created a community task force called the Rebound Committee to help restaurants pivot to outdoor dining. Henry Bui opened Chicken Pie Shop three years ago and it was just beginning to make money when the pandemic hit.  So he invested in an outdoor space and said his clientele was beginning to grow. Read More

California Health Officials Issue Revised Youth, Rec Sports Guidelines
SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Public Health revised its guidance for youth and recreational adult sports Monday, outlining which are allowed in each of the state’s four pandemic reopening tiers. The new guidelines apply to all organized sports, including school and community-sponsored programs and privately organized leagues. Sports are grouped in each of the four tiers by their potential for the virus to spread, with factors including how much contact players make with each other and whether a sport or activity is played indoors or outdoors. “I know as a parent and athlete myself, how important exercise is to maintain physical and mental health, and we encourage members of the same household to do physical activities together and outdoors until the current and alarming surge passes,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s acting public health officer. Read More

Dozens Of Livermore Parents Rally To Get Kids Off Zoom And Back In Class
LIVERMORE — Many Bay Area parents and children have grown frustrated with distance-learning during the pandemic and even now some doctors have concerns about keeping kids home for so long. Waving signs and greeted by honks of support, a group of Livermore parents staged a protest downtown saying it’s time to get their kids off Zoom and back into the classroom. “It’s very hard for a 6-year-old to sit in front of a screen for hours no matter how wonderful their teacher is and she has an incredible teacher,” says mother Nobella Baba. These parents say it’s not just about learning, but the social interaction the kids are missing, and that is messing with their mental health. “He went through some separation anxiety, which his pediatrician says they are seeing all the time now, that kids are coming in for anxiety issues,” mom Susan Munkner said about her son. Read More

USF Dons Cancel USC Game, Schedule New Match Against Oregon
SAN FRANCISCO — The University of San Francisco Dons canceled their game Wednesday against the University of Southern California Trojans the day before the match after a USC player tested positive for COVID-19. USF announced the cancellation Tuesday, but the possibility of a cancelation existed since Sunday, Dec. 13, when the USC player tested positive. As a substitution, the Dons set up a game on Thursday against the Oregon Ducks. It will be the 11th time the Ducks and Dons have faced each other; Ducks are winning the series 8-2. The two teams have only played each other twice since 2007 and their last game was in 2013. The Dons are currently 5-3. The Ducks are first place in PAC-12 and are 5-1. Read More

Pelosi Meets With Congressional Leaders On New COVID-19 Aid Package
WASHINGTON — Talks on a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package intensified Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned other top congressional leaders for a potentially critical meeting. Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for more than an hour, her office tweeted, and Mnuchin will join the make-or-break meeting of Capitol Hill’s “big four” leaders by phone. The uptick in activity could be a sign that an agreement is near, though COVID-19 relief talks have been notoriously difficult. Pelosi hasn’t met with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in months. The Kentucky Republican is playing a strong hand in the lame-duck session and is pressuring Democrats to drop a much-sought $160 billion aid package for states and local governments struggling to balance their budgets because of the pandemic. Read More

U.S. Rowers Prepare For COVID Delayed Tokyo Olympics Training On Oakland Estuary
OAKLAND — With a thick, gray morning haze hanging extra low over the Oakland Estuary and limiting visibility, U.S. men’s rowing coach Mike Teti lifted a bullhorn to his masked face from the coach’s boat and asked pair Liam Corrigan and Chris Carlson whether they had seen the American four crew in the water ahead. They were indeed down the way, all fine — getting through another tough day of training for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Teti motored on through the debris and dirty water from a recent storm until the boat came into view from a distance. In stroke position sat veteran Tom Peszek, just the experienced athlete to be leading the way when training conditions are far from ideal. With everyone safe and accounted for, Teti could turn back and check on the others, as he does daily by capturing video snippets of each rower — fortunate to never have lost a phone to the estuary given how regularly he reaches it out over the water. Read More