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.

COVID Stay-Home Orders Likely To Be Extended In California
SACRAMENTO — The surging COVID-19 pandemic in California will likely require the state to extend the regional stay-at-home orders, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday. Newsom said the state has seen ICU admission rates soar 51% over the past 14 days, with the state showing just 2.5% ICU availability and the Bay Area showing 13.7% ICU availability. The month-long regional stay-home orders were imposed the first week in December when ICU bed availability dropped below 15%, and were to have been reassessed after a minimum of three weeks. “We are likely – I think it’s pretty self-evident – going to need to extend those original dates,” Newsom said. “Based upon all the data, and based upon all these trendlines, it’s very likely based on those current trends that we’ll need to extend that stay-at-home order.” Restaurant owner Donato Scotti said an extension of the stay at home order would hurt, but he will do his best to persevere. Read More

Victims Of Bank Of America EDD Debit Card Fraud Tell Stories Of Fake Charges, Long Waits, Closed Claims
SAN FRANCISCO — KPIX has learned lawmakers plan to call Bank of America on the carpet in January to question it about massive fraud involving unemployment debit cards. KPIX was the first to report on what appears to be an epidemic of hack attacks on the cards involving fraudsters stealing thousands of dollars in cash from EDD accounts, directly from ATM machines. But we are also hearing about smaller charges for food delivery through Doordash. The dollar amount is much smaller but the frustration just as great. “I was like what is this charge?” said Martha Galvan. She noticed the unusual $53 dollar charge on her EDD debit card from Doordash in October. The delivery was in San Francisco and Galvan lives in Southern California. “It was like, okay, this is definitely, obviously not me,” said Galvan. The same thing happened to Los Angeles resident Amy Parks. “At first I was like ‘ooh dumplings!’” said Parks. She also got a Doordash charge for $96.57 at Dumpling Alley in San Francisco. Both women say they expected quick resolution from Bank of America to what seemed to them like obvious fraud. Read More

Congress Passes $900 Billion Pandemic Relief Package Delivering Aid To Businesses, Individuals
WASHINGTON — Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year. The bill goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, which is expected in the coming days. The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours. The Senate cleared the massive package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved the COVID-19 package by another lopsided vote, 359-53. The tallies were a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked. Read More

Moderna Shot Arrives In California After FDA Authorization – ‘It Gives Us Hope’
SAN FRANCISCO — As the number of COVID-19 cases across the state continue to surge, doses of a second vaccine approved by the FDA are on their way to the Bay Area. So far, more than 110,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have already been delivered across the state, with more than 600,000 more expected by the end of the week. Cardboard boxes full of Moderna vaccine vials started getting delivered to 31 sites across California on Monday. The company started shipping more than 6 million doses across the country Sunday, only two days after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval. “Moderna vaccine has arrived and that is indeed good news. 672,600 to be exact, is what we anticipate receiving this week,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom during a virtual press conference Monday afternoon. Read More

California Prepares For Possible Quarantining Of Visitors From UK Over New Coronavirus Strain
SACRAMENTO — California health officials could require visitors from the United Kingdom to quarantine to safeguard against a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England. Dozens of countries have already placed travel restrictions on the U.K. because of a new COVID strain which the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said appears to be “significantly more transmissible,” but preliminary analysis suggests infections are not more severe. Still, experts have stressed that more infections will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths. Gov. Gavin Newsom said officials have been in contact with airlines that serve the U.K. and with stakeholders in the state over possible restrictions on travel, but are looking toward the federal government to provide initial guidance. “I hope the federal government takes action in this space. They should,” said Newsom. “We’ve seen Canada, we’ve seen so many other jurisdictions around the world that have. In the absence of that, we’ll be pursuing different strategies on testing and quarantine and those have been activated in terms of those conversations.” Read More

Airbnb Cracks Down On Dozens Of Bay Area Properties Over Parties, Events Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb cracked down on some house listings in the Bay Area following a ban on parties at Airbnb listings around the world, the short-term vacation rental company said Monday. Airbnb recently suspended or removed more than 65 properties in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose from its platform after they received complaints or violated the company’s party and event policy. “Everyone in the Bay Area has a role to play in reducing the number of large gatherings and parties, and that includes Airbnb,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb’s regional policy lead. Airbnb announced in August that it would indefinitely ban events of any kind at its listings and cap a property’s vacation occupancy at 16 people due in part to concerns about spreading the coronavirus. Read More

East Oakland Mail Carriers Targeted In Series Of Armed Robberies Involving EDD Benefits Cards
OAKLAND — A 31-year-old Oakland man was charged Monday in a series of armed robberies targeting mail carriers in East Oakland as they delivered pre-paid EDD ATM benefits cards, federal prosecutors said. U.S. Attorney David Anderson said that David Leveren Quinn allegedly committed at least six armed robberies or attempted robberies of U.S. Postal Service letter carriers in East Oakland neighborhoods between August 11 and September 25. According to the criminal complaint, Quinn committed the robberies with one or more unknown conspirators. While the circumstances vary, the complaint alleges that in most of the robberies Quinn and one other person searched for USPS letter carriers and then parked near the letter carrier’s mail truck. Quinn or his co-conspirator then would get out of their vehicle, confront the letter carrier, and take or attempt to take trays of mail and packages from the mail truck. Read More

Relief Package Includes $15 Billion For Struggling Music Venues, Movie Theaters
SAN FRANCISCO — Entertainment venues like dance clubs and movie theaters will see some relief in COVID-19 package going before congress this week. The package reportedly allocates $15 billion for the performing arts and other cultural institutions after the industry struggled for months to survive during state-ordered lockdowns. Congress expected to vote on the bill Monday mere hours after it was handed to congressional members that morning. The relief comes after the months of lobbying by the entertainment industry. The lockdowns imposed by the state have hobbled the live entertainment industry. In the Bay Area alone, the stay-at-home orders and fear of patrons catching the virus have caused many beloved clubs and bars to close down in recent months, including the Stud Bar, Amnesia and Lucky 13. To help local venues stay afloat, longtime club promoter Parker Gibbs co-founded the Independent Venue Alliance (IVA), which has been holding fundraisers and raising thousands of dollars. Read More

San Mateo County Spends $4.5M To Expand Hospital’s ICU
REDWOOD CITY — San Mateo County invested $4.5 million into Dignity Health’s Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City to provide up to 10 extra intensive care unit beds, county officials announced Monday. The extra beds are a partnership between the county, Dignity Health and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, a company that provides clinical resources, such as personnel and health care solutions, to hospital settings worldwide. The agreement will cover medical personnel for 30 days through AMI, which will provide licensed medical professionals to staff the ICU beds at Sequoia Hospital. The first five-bed unit will be staffed within a week with the second five-bed unit available the following week. County Manager Mike Callagy said the extra “around the clock” staffing would be a regional asset for tackling the rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 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

Other Trending Bay Area COVID Stories

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

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