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.

Second COVID Vaccine On The Way, San Francisco Mission District Residents Question Who Will Receive The Next Round
SAN FRANCISCO — At the Mission Food Hub on Sunday, volunteers handed out Christmas presents to a long line of families. Many are frontline workers who are struggling as the economy craters. Their community is also getting hit hard by COVID-19. The buzz among those gathered included talk of COVID vaccines and when they would have access to shots to help protect their families from the deadly virus. On Sunday, a federal advisory panel recommended that people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers should be next in line for vaccination, while a second vaccine began rolling out to hospitals. The two developments came amid a vaccination program that began only in the last week and has given initial shots to about 556,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read More

Thousands Crowd Into San Francisco International Ignoring COVID Travel Warning
SAN FRANCISCO — Despite warnings from public health officials and the surge in COVID cases, tens of thousands of travelers passed through San Francisco International Airport on the last weekend before Christmas. Though not as busy as it would be pre-pandemic, there was still plenty of activity. SFO officials say on Friday and Saturday, the airport saw double the number of travelers it normally sees on a weekday during the pandemic. Even more travel is expected as we get closer to Christmas. “Well family was here, and I was at work out there, so I had to come back here for family, or I would have spent it by myself,” said Mike Epson who is visiting from Phoenix. “Just make sure you’re safe, keep hand sanitizer, and stay masked up.” Read More

Newsom Back In COVID Quarantine After Staffer Tests Positive For Virus
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom tested negative for COVID-19 Sunday but went into a 10-day quarantine after a staffer whom he had contact with was diagnosed with the virus. Other state employees who had been identified by contact tracing were also tested and placed in quarantine. “The individual in question came into contact with the Governor and a few other staff members,” the Governor’s Office said in a Sunday evening release. “The Governor tested negative today as did the other staff members. In an abundance of caution, the Governor will begin a 10-day quarantine per state guidelines. The Governor and staff will be tested again in the next few days and continue to follow state and CDC guidelines.” “We wish our staff member who tested positive well.” Read More

Bay Area COVID-19 Test Sites See Pre-Christmas Surge
SAN PABLO — There weren’t too many COVID-19 test sites that were opened on Sunday. Those that were saw a lot of traffic. The high demand for testing means fewer available appointments at county-run sites across the Bay Area. In Contra Costa County, for example, the earliest appointments for most locations will be after the Christmas holiday. There was a consistent line at the San Pablo Davis Park test site right up until they closed at 4 p.m. “Nothing from tomorrow through, I think, the end of the year pretty much was available on the Contra Costa County health website,” said El Cerrito resident Jeffrey Gilliland. Gilliland said he was lucky to get an appointment at the Davis Park site. Read More

Congressional Leaders Reach Agreement on COVID Economic Relief Package
WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders on Sunday reached a deal on a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package that includes $600 direct payments to Americans and $300 in enhanced unemployment for the next 10 weeks, House Speaker Nancy Speaker and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. The House voted Sunday night for a 24-hour extension so the government will remain funded, since the deadline to avoid a shutdown was 11:59 p.m. The deal also includes $25 billion in direct rental assistance and extends the eviction moratorium, $82 billion for education funding, $45 billion for public transit systems and $13 billion for increased food stamps and child nutrition benefits. There were also benefits for small business owners, including $12 billion for minority-owned or very small business, plus $15 billion for theater operators and small venue owners through Save our Stages Act. Read More

Other Bay Area Trending COVID Stories From The Weekend

Staggering Surge In Drug Overdose Deaths Far Outpacing COVID-19 Fatalities In San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — A record 621 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco so far this year, a staggering number that far outpaces the 173 deaths from COVID-19 the city has seen thus far. The crisis fueled by the powerful painkiller fentanyl could have been far worse if it wasn’t for the nearly 3,000 times Narcan was used from January to the beginning of November to save someone from the brink of death, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday. The data reflects the number of times people report using Narcan to the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project, a city-funded program that coordinates San Francisco’s response to overdose, or return to refill their supply. Officials at the DOPE Project said that since the numbers are self-reported, they are probably a major undercount. Last year, 441 people died of drug overdoses—a 70% increase from 2018—and 2,610 potential overdoses were prevented by Narcan, a medication commonly sprayed up the nose to reverse an opioid overdose, according to data from the city Medical Examiner’s office and the DOPE Project. Read More

Struggling SF Chinatown Businesses Ask Mayor Breed for Relief
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Chinatown small businesses have been hit extremely hard during this pandemic and they’re asking the mayor for help. A week before Christmas, the storefronts are nearly empty and businesses are struggling. They’re asking for a relief package they feel is desperately needed. David Ho is pretty much a one-man band these days at Sam Wo restaurant which has been serving up steamy, stir-fried dishes since 1908. “It used to be busy but now it’s very quiet,” Ho said. “Mr. Ho is the main cook the whole day and when we have deliveries he’ll take the 50-pound bag of rice — he’s doing it all on his own,” said Stephen Lee. Earlier this year, the owners quickly used up its Paycheck Protection Program loan and they say getting extra help from the city has been difficult. Read More

Apple Temporarily Closes All Its California Stores as Pandemic Worsens
CUPERTINO — Cupertino-based Apple has temporarily closed all of their retail stores in California amid the pandemic. According to the Apple website the 53 stores statewide are temporarily closed. Customers with pre-scheduled appointments for in-store pickups, Genius Bar appointments and previously reserved one-on-one shopping sessions with a specialist will be able to visit stores through Tuesday. All online services are available and most Apple products are available at Apple-authorized retailers, such as Best Buy, Costco and Target.
Apple did not immediately return e-mails seeking comment Saturday. Read More

San Jose Sharks Appear Ready To Join 49ers In Exodus To Arizona
SAN JOSE — The NHL is preparing for a pandemic-altered regular season limited to divisional play while trying to determine if the league’s seven Canadian teams will be allowed to play in their country. Taxi squads also are coming back as part of a tentative return-to-play plan reached Friday, and at least one team won’t be opening its season at home. The San Jose Sharks will open training camp and start the regular season in Arizona, a person with knowledge of discussions told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because details of the plan haven’t been made public. The deal has already received support from the NHL Players’ Association, and features a 56-game regular season beginning Jan. 13. Training camps for the seven teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season would open Dec. 31, with the remaining 24 teams opening camps Jan. 3. Read More

Travelers Arriving At SFO Learn About San Francisco’s Mandatory Quarantine Order
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — Travelers visiting San Francisco and residents returning to the city on Friday faced strict new guidelines for the mandatory quarantine order that just went into effect. KPIX 5 spoke to some travelers who found out about the new rules just after they landed. The timing of the new 10-day quarantine order for travelers is no accident. Christmas is a week away, and health officials know people are going to be coming into the city even though they’ve been told to stay home. The only notifications about the quarantine at the San Francisco International Airport came in the form of PA announcements played about once every 30 minutes and digital signs displayed at baggage claim. Read More

Plan to Return San Francisco Students to Classrooms in January Nixed by School District
SAN FRANCISCO — Plans for some kids to return to school in San Francisco have hit another roadblock and now some parents are left wondering if their kids will see the inside of a classroom at all this school year. The goal was to start reopening schools on January 25 but, according to the district, it just can’t meet the latest round of demands from the teachers union. Mayor London Breed weighed in Friday with some heavy criticism of the latest stalemate between the teachers union and the school district. “The people who are suffering are our children because we can’t get grownup business together to do what’s best for their interests,” Mayor Breed said. “Protecting people’s lives against this virus has to be paramount and it has been and we have been conservative but we should already have a plan in place as soon as time presents itself to open the doors,” the mayor added. The San Francisco Unified School District says labor unions have proposed significant new requests that go beyond Department of Public Health guidance. One calls for San Francisco to hold back from in-person learning until the city has been in the orange tier for two weeks. Some parents are frustrated at how the demands keep changing. Read More