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.

‘There Are Bright Spots’ While San Francisco Continues To Battle Surge In Cases
SAN FRANCISCO — Although San Francisco continues to see the highest number of new COVID-19 cases daily since the onset of the pandemic, health officials said Tuesday they were also seeing a dip in the rate of infection citywide. During a virtual briefing, Mayor London Breed and Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said as both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approach, the next two weeks will be crucial in bringing the numbers down Breed said, however, there is hope as the city has already begun daily vaccinations of frontline workers like nurses, doctors and paramedics. “There are bright spots. We’ve been vaccinating people everyday,” Breed said. “This week we are receiving more shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and as the newly approved Moderna vaccine gets done, we’ll get those as well. But, the distribution of the vaccine is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.” Read More

Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Brave Bay Area Malls But Is It Safe?
PLEASANTON — Many last minute Christmas shoppers said they headed to Bay Area malls to find gifts Tuesday evening, because at this point, it’s too late to order them online. Shoppers said they didn’t expect to see so many people out two days three days before Christmas. At Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, shoppers waited in socially-distanced lines outside popular stores like Sephora and Foot Locker. Under the stay-at-home order, retail stores in Alameda County are allowed to operate at 20% capacity. “There have been outbreaks associated with grocery stores and even big box outlets, but it was usually in the context of crowding areas,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “If you limit the capacity, provided you have good ventilation, which at most malls, I think is pretty decent.” Read More

COVID Christmas Without Sister Will Be Lonely For Teen Battling Leukemia At Stanford Children’s
PALO ALTO — The restrictions due to the pandemic have already changed the holidays for so many people. For children who are spending Christmas in the hospital, it brings a new struggle. They’re not able to have family come visit. One high school junior from San Jose who is battling leukemia says his one Christmas wish is to see his sister. Sixteen-year-old Mateo Ocampo spent Halloween at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, then Thanksgiving, now Christmas, and probably New Years as well. Because of COVID restrictions, the only people who are allowed into the hospital to visit him are his parents, which is especially hard during the holidays. “FaceTime right now is my only way of communication,” says Mateo. His entire life changed in an instant on October 25 when doctors told him, “You have cancer.” Read More

Beloved Albany Bowl Closing After 71 Years Due To Pandemic
ALBANY — An East Bay landmark and party spot for folks of all ages is closing its doors because of the pandemic. The historic Albany Bowl on San Pablo Blvd., in the city of Albany is closing for good after 71 years. It has a favorite spot for everything from children’s birthday parties to senior bowling leagues. John Tierney, owner of the beloved bowling alley, says without any cash flow and no government relief in sight, the decision to close Albany Bowl was unavoidable. Tierney told the East Bay Times he has spent $700,000 since the start of the pandemic. “I can’t hold on for six more months.” Read More

Bay Area Hospitals Facing Critical Shortage Of Nurses, Medical Professionals
SAN FRANCISCO — As the winter coronavirus surge puts increasing pressure on California’s healthcare system, the state is now worried about a possible shortage of medical professionals. “Listen, hospitals were a place that were understaffed and under pressure prior to this pandemic,” says UCSF Registered Nurse Sarah Egan. “It’s the nature of the industry.” For Nurse Egan, the winter surge is just the crescendo to an already exhausting year. Across the state, hospitals have had to stretch staff to the limit, and the staffing agencies that normally provide back-up help for California are now busy helping the rest of the country. “You know, it’s like nothing that we’ve ever seen before,” Egan says. “So people are burnt out, and we’re afraid. We’ve been working short staffed for months now.” “As the hospital bed count continues to dwindle, we simply will not be able to keep up if the Covid surge continues to increase,” Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Greg Adams warned Tuesday. Read More

San Jose State Spartans’ Travel To Arizona Bowl In Violation Of COVID Quarantine Rules
SANTA CLARA — One of the toughest challenges for any college sports team is to put together an undefeated, championship season. That’s what the San Jose State Spartans football team has done this season. What makes it even more impressive is that Spartans head coach Brent Brennan and his players have done it in a season disrupted by COVID. They’ve had nationally televised games cancelled, been forced to flee San Jose and needed to travel all the way up to Humboldt County to even practice. Now, the team could be facing fines and other penalties from Santa Clara County health officials because they plan to travel to Arizona to play in a post-season bowl game. The issue is the team returned back to the Bay Area after winning the Mountain West title last weekend in Las Vegas so the players could spent time with their families. Under the currently imposed 10-day travel quarantine put into place by Santa Clara health officials, the team now can’t leave the county as planned on Sunday. Read More

San Francisco Opening Holiday Pop-Up Testing Site In Mission District
SAN FRANCISCO — A holiday pop-up COVID testing site is being established in San Francisco’s Mission District to reach community members disproportionately affected by the surging coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday and Thursday, the city will offer free, no appointment COVID tests to some 700 people a day at the 24th and Mission St. transit hub. The site was being made possible by reallocating resources and staffing from the CityTestSF site at the Embarcadero, according to city’s COVID Command Center and the Department of Public Health. The pop-up site will also offer Spanish, Chinese and English speaking staffers and results are to be reported within 24 to 48 hours. “We need to ensure that our resources are allocated equitably and effectively in order to slow the spread of this virus,” said Mayor London Breed in a press release. “By standing up a testing site at 24th and Mission streets that is easily accessible, we are better serving the Latino community and our essential workers, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 health pandemic.” Read More

Bay Area Officials Laud Coronavirus Funding Bill, Argue More Is Needed
SAN FRANCISCO — California is expected to receive billions in federal funding from the latest coronavirus relief bill, which Bay Area officials have called a stepping stone to additional relief for local governments, small businesses and the state’s residents. The $900 billion funding package, which Congress approved Monday and still needs President Donald Trump’s signature, includes $600 stimulus checks, $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits and billions for small businesses, vaccine distribution and various other provisions. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, lamented that the bill does not include direct funding for state and local governments that are facing revenue shortfalls and budget crunches due to the pandemic. “We consider this a first step,” Pelosi said Monday in a briefing with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “And … more needs to be done. And we’re so excited that that will be happening under the Biden-Harris Administration, about 700 hours from now.” Read More

San Franciscans Warned Another Holiday Surge Would Be ‘Catastrophic’
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s mayor and health director urged residents Tuesday to do whatever is necessary to avoid another post-holiday surge in COVID cases that would be “catastrophic.” Mayor London Breed and Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax noted during their weekly news conference Tuesday that the recent stay-at-home orders are having an effect in blunting the rate of increase in cases. “While our cases are still high, we have some data that shows people in San Francisco have been moving around less over the past two weeks,” said Breed. “That means that people are being mindful and doing their best to comply.” However, Breed said hospitalizations remain as high as they ever been and the city is “in a very dangerous place” if there is another post-holiday surge as was seen following Thanksgiving. Currently in San Francisco, Breed said there were 20,976 total cases, with 173 currently hospitalized and 176 total deaths. Read More

Oakland Announces $29M In Immediate Spending Cuts; Police, Fire Not Spared
OAKLAND — Officials in Oakland announced the city is implementing nearly $30 million in immediate spending cuts, as the city projects a budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to soar. Much of the $29 million in cuts will be in public safety, with a $15 million in cuts to the Oakland Police Department and another $5 million at the Oakland Fire Department, officials said in a statement. Cuts to the police department including reductions in overtime, specialized units and programs, along with the deferral of one police academy. Fire department reductions include the partial temporary closure of three fire stations during the “low fire season” between mid-January and June. An additional $9 million in cost-saving measures were also announced, including a hiring freeze for non-sworn positions. Read More