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.


California Shatters Daily Record For New COVID Cases, Deaths
California is seeing the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, reporting more than 53,000 new cases and 293 deaths on Wednesday, both new daily records while hospitals struggle to absorb a surge in patients. The state has seen coronavirus cases and hospitalizations soar in recent weeks. Hospitals are filling up so fast that officials are rolling out mobile field facilities and scrambling to hire doctors and nurses, while the state is distributing 5,000 body bags mostly to the hard-hit Los Angeles and San Diego areas and has 60 refrigerated trailers standing by as makeshift morgues. Read More

Solano Health Officer Worries Order Won’t Slow Spread, Some ‘Aren’t Going To Be Persuaded’
FAIRFIELD — As all Bay Area counties are set to enter a stay-at-home order due to ICU capacity dropping below 15%, Solano County’s health officer worries the latest order will not stop the surge in COVID-19 cases. In Solano County, ICU capacity has dropped to 13%. Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said the surge in cases and hospitalizations can be directly linked to Thanksgiving and he doubts people will change their ways for Christmas. “I think this is going to be a really, really tough holiday season. It really will be,” Matyas told KPIX 5 on Wednesday. Matyas is basing his belief over what has happened over the last week and a half. The health officer said 13 deaths can be traced back to holiday get-togethers. “Family members are dying because of having attended Thanksgiving events that were not run properly,” says Matyas. Read More

San Mateo County To Join Stay-At-Home Order Amid Record Cases, Rising Hospitalizations
SAN MATEO COUNTY — As hospitals strain under surging COVID-19 cases, San Mateo County officials on Wednesday urged people to stay home for the holidays. The county’s Deputy Chief of Health Srija Srinivasan and County Manager Mike Callagy said during a media briefing that the county’s COVID-19 numbers were extremely concerning. “We haven’t been able to mitigate the increase that began around the Thanksgiving holiday time,” Srinivasan said. “The strains on hospital capacity are too real.” San Mateo County’s COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizations have been on the rise since early November, according to state and county data. The county has seen record-high case numbers in December. In the last week, the county had 2,602 new lab-confirmed cases for a daily average of 372 cases, the highest for any seven-day period. Read More

Ultracold Freezers For Pfizer Shot Arrive In San Mateo County With Distribution Set To Begin
SAN MATEO — Two sub-zero freezers slated to store thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 have arrived in San Mateo County, county officials said Wednesday. The freezers at San Mateo Medical Center will store allotments for the county’s health department and for Seton Medical Center, and vaccines for other acute hospitals will be shipped directly to the respective hospitals. “These freezers are a really big deal only when we look at the Pfizer vaccine because it needs to be stored at -70 degrees while the Moderna vaccine just needs to be freezing,” Dr. Anand Chabra, county COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief and Family Health Services medical director, said. “Because of its formulation, in order to be viable it needs to be stored this way and the other thing is that there are no preservatives in there.” County hospitals may start vaccinations as early as Thursday, as the county has already received its first allotment of 5,850 Pfizer vaccines on Tuesday. Read More

Bay Area Post Offices See Crush Of Holiday Packages During Pandemic; Customers Report Delays
PLEASANT HILL — Along with the annual avalanche of Christmas packages, the US Postal Service faces new challenges in 2020, including there is the tidal wave of online shopping due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, not to mention the virus itself. “Well, we’re just like other employers that we have to be cognoscente of the fact that you may have a case and we do have those. There’s no denying that,” said USPS spokesperson Augie Ruiz. “It’s sporadic.” The USPS said they have had very few cases but when a case is discovered, it triggers mandated CDC guidelines; targeted sanitation, deep cleanings of work spaces and quarantine. All when there’s an historic workload during unprecedented times. Monica Thow noticed somethings was up with her mail. She checks it twice a day, sometimes more. Thow said her mail carrier was gone a couple days and no one was available to take his place “The talk is there’s been a lot of frustration,” she said. Read More

Bay Area ICU Capacity At Under 13%; Stay-At-Home Order To Go Into Effect For Entire Region
SAN FRANCISCO — According to the California COVID-19 website, Bay Area ICU capacity dipped below 13% Wednesday, triggering a stay-at-home order for the entire region starting Thursday night. Data on the state’s COVID-19 site showed that the Bay Area hospital region had dropped to 12.9% ICU capacity as of late Wednesday morning when the latest COVID case and ICU capacity figures were updated. Much of the Bay Area — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties plus the city of Berkeley — already adopted the state’s stay-at-home order on December 7, well ahead of the region dropping below the 15% ICU capacity threshold set by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month. Read More

California Exodus? Growth Rate At Record Low As More People Leave
SAN FRANCISCO — More people are leaving California than moving here, continuing a trend that coupled with fewer births has slowed the growth rate in the nation’s most populous state to a record low amid a pandemic that is reshaping its future. Officially, California added 21,200 people from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, increasing the state’s population a paltry 0.05% to 39.78 million people — still by far the most of any state. But the bigger news from Wednesday’s new population estimate was that 135,600 more people left the state than moved here. It’s only the 12th time since 1900 the state has had a net migration loss, and the third largest ever recorded. California became a state in 1850 after a gold rush spurred a massive migration of people moving west to seek their fortune. The state boomed again following World War II because of the aerospace and defense industry, and again in the 1980s and early 1990s as technology companies made Silicon Valley a household name. Read More

‘Mental Health Issues At Crisis Level’ For Children During COVID Pandemic, Expert Warns
LOS ANGELES — Educators and therapists say the pandemic has created a serious mental health crisis for students. For nine months, Dr. Veronica Brown, principal of Manchester Avenue Elementary School in South L.A., has been unable to hug her students or even see them in person. “I thought about the kids,” Brown told CBS Los Angeles Tuesday. “I thought about, oh my goodness, who are they gonna turn to now? Because they turn to us for everything.” She says that over the past several months, she has seen more stress and pain in their lives “Sometimes, they’ll tell us that such-and-such passed away, and then there’s that moment where we say, ‘oh my goodness, let’s give him a big hug everybody,'” Brown said. Read More

San Jose Places Caps On Food Delivery Service Fees
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County and the South Bay’s largest city, San Jose, both approved caps on food delivery service fees Tuesday in an effort to protect struggling small businesses in the wake of COVID-19. The county’s temporary ordinance caps delivery fees for third-party delivery services, like Uber Eats or DoorDash, at 15 percent of the purchase price for orders and at 10 percent for pickup/takeout orders from any restaurant. The emergency regulation goes into effect on Saturday and expires once restaurants can resume indoor operations or at the county’s discretion. “The current pandemic unfortunately creates opportunity for price gouging,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said. “That’s the problem we’re tackling.” Since restaurants were required to close both indoor and outdoor operations earlier this month, they have had to rely on pickup and delivery orders to sustain themselves into the next year. Read More

Google Glitch, Snowstorm Create Woes for Virtual Learners
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Snowstorms and technical malfunctions are still delaying school days, even when all the students are online. Students in the Northeast might be giddily anticipating a storm that the National Weather Service says could drop a foot or more of snow across the region Wednesday and Thursday. The glitch that came Monday, though, wasn’t in the forecast. “Google is down across the globe, which is the COVID version of a snow day,” Superintendent Joe Clark tweeted to followers from his Nordonia Hills City School District in northern Ohio. “Until it’s back up, Nordonia students, read some books, play outside, and help your parents around the house.” All-virtual learning — in use by many U.S. schools this holiday season to help curb the spread of the coronavirus — has some districts talking about not needing snow days anymore, even after students return to school in person. If there’s inclement weather, they argue, students can simply log on from home. That is, if the technology holds. Read More

CoCo Supes Ask State to Prioritize Teachers for Vaccines
MARTINEZ — The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors formally asked the state this week to consider teachers as “essential workers” and thus among the first people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. In its request to Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials, the board stated that vaccinating teachers and all other school personnel at public, private and any other schools, the supervisors said, will better prepare them for reopening schools as early as possible. “We’re taking the initiative here … to convey to the state, as it develops its vaccine priorities, that we want all school personnel to be prioritized as essential workers,” Supervisor John Gioia said Tuesday. Distance learning, he said, is not necessarily effective, especially in communities of color, and reopening schools as soon as it’s safe is important. Supervisor Diane Burgis noted the board is only making its stance clear, and has no power to give school workers vaccine priority. She also stressed the county doesn’t have the authority to reopen schools — that is up to each individual district, and influenced by the health orders in each county. Read More

Other trending Bay Area COVID stories

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

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

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