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.

With Multiple Vaccines in the Mix, Herd Immunity Could Come by Summer
SAN FRANCISCO — As vaccines have started trickling into hospitals and nursing homes, the question now is: who’s next? Few dispute that frontline health care workers should get the vaccine first but now millions of essential workers want to know when it will be their turn. The good news: a vaccine might be available to everyone sooner than expected. While California received 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first round, more is on the way. The Moderna vaccine is set to get the go-ahead for widespread distribution soon. Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician a UCSF says it’s a big breakthrough to have two viable vaccines. “It is amazing to have two amazing candidates. They both work very well. Their efficacy is 94 percent or higher,” Dr. Gandhi told KPIX. According to a state advisory committee, first responders, farm workers and educators are next in line to get the vaccine but there are more than seven million non-health care essential workers seeking a spot in that line. Dr. Gandhi does not expect a vaccination battle to develop. Read More

Fraudulent Unemployment Benefits Paid to Fired EDD Employee Filing as Sen. Dianne Feinstein
SACRAMENTO — Among the more than $110 billion in unemployment benefits California has paid this year to people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus, $21,000 went to an address in Roseville under the name and Social Security number of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The Bank of America, which contracts with the state to provide benefits to people on debit cards, flagged the claim for possible fraud. Federal investigators later found at least $2 million worth of fraudulent unemployment claims had been filed from that same address, which they said were all linked to a woman who once worked for the state unemployment agency until she was fired in 2018. Thursday, federal prosecutors announced the arrest of 43-year-old Andrea M. Gervais for mail fraud, part of its investigation into widespread fraud in the state’s distribution of unemployment benefits. Federal prosecutors also announced the indictment of three other women — including a prison inmate — for a similar scheme totaling more than $295,000 in fraudulent claims. Read More

Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa Sees Soaring Demand
SANTA ROSA — The Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa has never been busier than they are this holiday season and they think this surge in demand is only the beginning. It is the largest food bank in Sonoma County and directly supplies the public and other small food charities. CEO David Goodman says that, during its 33-year history, the need he’s seeing this year has never been greater. “We’ve been through multiple fires,” Goodman said Thursday. “We’ve been through floods, political disasters. We’ve been through PSPs, the PG&E shutdowns and now, a global pandemic.” Redwood Empire Food Bank is distributing twice the amount of food as last year, enough for 22 million meals. Read More

San Francisco Case Numbers Still Spiking; City Orders Mandatory Quarantine For Travelers
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax on Thursday provided a grim update to the city’s rising COVID-19 case rates as well as announcing a mandatory 10-day quarantine for anyone traveling from outside of the city. Dr. Colfax provided an update to San Francisco’s current coronavirus cases and ICU capacity Thursday afternoon. “We unfortunately have yet to see a downturn. We are averaging an extremely high case rate [with] 242 cases per day. That is the highest average we’ve had since the outset of the pandemic,” said Colfax. Cases have increased by 50% since the Thanksgiving holiday and 27% in just the past week, though Colfax noted that the rate of increase has slowed slightly. “This indicates that we still have time to turn this dire situation around and, as a result, save hundreds of lives,” Colfax said. Read More

Marin County Senior Care Health Workers Receive Pfizer Doses
MILL VALLEY — After hospital workers in the Bay Area were among the first to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week, caregivers at a senior facility in Marin County received their doses Thursday. The residents of The Redwoods, A Community of Seniors in Mill Valley, will have to wait a little longer because the strategy is to inoculate those taking care of them first since they’re exposed to the virus every day. People talked about hope and reflected on the difficulties over the last nine months. “Everybody was pretty much burned out and on fumes. And when we got our shipment of the vaccine yesterday the entire room lit up and the wind in our sails are back,” Chris Le Baudour, the EMS administrator at the Marin County Department of Health, told KPIX 5. More than 100,000 COVID deaths nationwide are of people living or working in long-term care facilities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Read More

California Told Quantity For Next Pfizer Vaccine Shipment Slashed
SACRAMENTO — California’s next vaccine shipment will be about 40% less than state health officials initially thought it would be, according to reports. The San Jose Mercury News reported that the quantity of the next Pfizer vaccine shipment had been slashed. No reason was given. California hospitals began vaccinations this week from the first Pfizer shipment of 327,000 doses and had expected even more to arrive next week. Instead, officials have been told to expect about 233,000 doses, said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gavin Newsom. Officials with several states said they have been told to expect far fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in its second week of distribution, prompting worries about potential delays in shots for health care workers and long-term care . This is disruptive and frustrating,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter Thursday after learning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the state’s allocation would be cut by 40%. “We need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on-the-ground success.” Read More

San Mateo County Businesses Prepare For Shutdown
REDWOOD CITY — Diners in Redwood City were getting their last meal out until further notice Thursday night as San Mateo County prepared to join the rest of the Bay Area for the COVID stay-at-home order starting at midnight. The heat lamps and tables are up on Broadway in Redwood City for the last time this year as San Mateo County prepares to move into the now Bay Area wide stay-at-home order due to the hospital region’s ICU capacity dropping below 15% as of Wednesday. “We’re in lifesaving mode and the numbers don’t lie,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa. With the shutdown set to go into effect at 11:59 Thursday night, residents were rushing to get last-minute haircuts. Stylist Ashley Yulinger is preparing to work as late as possible to maximize the number of clients she sees. Read More

Santa Clara County Correctional Deputies Under Scrutiny After Photos Of Mask-Free Party Surface
SAN JOSE — The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday it is looking into photos posted on Facebook that show at least three of its correctional deputies at an indoor party last weekend with little to no mask wearing or social distancing and where partygoers shared a beer bong. The photos surfaced as the county is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections in the general population and also among sheriff’s office staff and jail inmates. The Mercury News reported Thursday that more than 30 photographs and videos were posted from the Dec. 6 party on a jail deputy’s profile that was registered under an alias. Dec. 6 was the same day that Santa Clara County went into a lockdown, which prohibited people from gathering with others outside of their own household. Read More

Santa Cruz Health Officer Says County’s Stay-At-Home Order Likely To Last ‘Well Into January’
SANTA CRUZ — Santa Cruz County is likely to remain under a coronavirus-related stay-at-home order “well into January,” the county’s health officer said Thursday. The state’s stay-at-home order will go into effect in Santa Cruz County at 11:59 p.m. Thursday after the amount of available intensive care unit beds in the 11-county greater Bay Area fell below 15 percent of maximum capacity. Dr. Gail Newel said that Santa Cruz County’s low ICU bed availability is due in part to its reliance on intensive medical care at medical centers in adjacent counties such as those at Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco. “Locally, our ICU capacity has at times over the last three weeks been zero,” Newel said Thursday during a briefing on the pandemic. “We have known since the beginning of this pandemic that Santa Cruz County is one of the jurisdictions that has a very low ICU bed availability per capita.” Read More

39 Inmates At CoCo Jails Test Positive
MARTINEZ — Contra Costa County officials revealed Thursday that COVID-19 broke out at its jails, with 39 inmates testing positive for the virus as of that morning. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) announced Thursday that it’s investigating the outbreak among inmates at the Martinez Detention Facility and the West Contra Costa Detention Facility in Richmond. Of the 39 infected inmates, none of them required hospitalization, according to county health officials. CCHS workers said they’re determining whether or not the infections are from a single outbreak. “The outbreak likely began at the Martinez facility, with cases in the Richmond facility associated with a transfer of one or more inmates who later tested positive for the virus, a CCHS statement read. “As COVID-19 is widespread in the community, it is difficult and may not be possible to determine the origin of the outbreak.” Read More

FDA Panel Recommends Moderna Vaccine For Emergency Use
SAN FRANCISCO — A second coronavirus vaccine is one step closer to the arms of Americans. An advisory panel voted Thursday to recommend the Food and Drug Administration authorize Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use, as they did last week for Pfizer’s vaccine. Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 20-0 with one abstention in favor of the vaccine. The FDA is expected to quickly authorize emergency use of the vaccine in the fight against COVID-19, which means it could start being administered as early as next week. Read More

Mayor Breed Says Success Of Community Hubs Could Be Used To Reopen SF Public Schools
SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor London Breed joined the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families on Thursday to celebrate the completion of the first semester in the city’s Community Hubs, which provide in-person support for some 2,000 students citywide as public schools remain closed. The hubs launched back in September and have since expanded to 78 locations, providing in-person distance learning support, meals, internet access and activities. Those enrolled in the hubs include low-income students, homeless students, foster youth and those in English Language Learners classes. Breed said the success of the hubs could be used to help the city and the San Francisco Unified School District navigate the reopening of schools for in-person learning in the near future. “These hubs have made a difference in people’s lives, and they have been safe, even in this challenging time,” Breed said during a virtual briefing. Read More

California Shatters Daily Record For New Cases, Deaths
LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — 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. Southern California and the state’s Central Valley — regions that together include 23 counties and most of the state’s nearly 40 million residents — had exhausted their regular supply of intensive care beds and many hospitals were tapping into their “surge” capacity. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the transmission of the virus is rampant and noted two people are dying every hour in the county.“We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” Ferrer said. California 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