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.

Newsom Acknowledges Significant Issues With Vaccine Distribution
SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday said that while the COVID-19 vaccine was providing California residents with hope, the state was “working aggressively” to address distribution issues while determining who would be getting the vaccine next. California has administered just 35 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received to date.The governor gave an update on the state’s pandemic response amid concerns over the state’s overloaded hospital systems in Central and Southern California as health officials anticipated a growing surge of cases from holiday gatherings last month Newsom said that the continuing distribution of the vaccine was giving health officials hope, but that there was much more work to be done to speed up the process of getting Californians vaccinated. “Our energy and focus has also gone to this notion of light being at the end of the tunnel. Despite being in the tunnel, we recognize there is hope on the horizon,” Newsom said. Read More

Kaiser Permanente San Jose Emergency Room Deadly COVID Outbreak May Be Linked To Air-Powered Costume
SAN JOSE — A COVID-19 outbreak at a South Bay hospital that infected at least 44 emergency room workers may be linked to an inflatable Christmas costume. One emergency room employee “has passed away as a result of COVID-19 complications” amid the outbreak in the department. In a statement released Sunday night, Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center officials confirmed the death, but did not indicate if the employee was among the 44 who have tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 27th. “Out of respect for patient privacy and the family, we have no additional information to provide. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this terrible loss. We are providing support to our employees during this difficult time.” hospital officials said in their statement. Officials said that one of the infected staffers did “appear briefly in the emergency department on Dec. 25th wearing an air-powered costume.” Read More

California Dentists Granted Emergency Waiver To Distribute Vaccine
SACRAMENTO — California officials have granted dentists an emergency waiver to administer COVID-19 vaccines, as the state faces distribution issues of the shots while cases continue to surge. The order issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs (.pdf) allows licensed dentists to inoculate people 16 and older with FDA-approved vaccines if they complete training programs provided by the Centers for Disease Control. Dentists would also be allowed to administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Under the order, dentists must also comply with federal and state reporting requirements, which includes providing documentation to the patient’s primary care provider, along with entering information into the immunization registry. Read More

Oakland Leaders Face Heat Over Fire Station Cutbacks Amid $62 Million Deficit – ‘We’ve Never Closed Three At A Time’
OAKLAND — Due to the pandemic, the city of Oakland is facing a huge $62 million budget deficit this year. So far, one of the proposed cuts drawing the most heat is to the Fire Department. With all the revenue it’s lost during COVID-19, Oakland has some difficult choices to make. Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Ed Reiskin sent a letter to city employees last month saying without massive cuts, “…the General Purpose Fund will be insolvent before the end of the fiscal year… Even the City’s emergency reserve will be completely exhausted.” Read More

Post-Holiday Surge Strains Hospitals As Protracted Stay-At-Home Order Strains Bay Area Businesses
SAN JOSE — As public health officials grapple with a post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases, regional stay-at-home orders for the Bay Area will remain in place indefinitely until the strain on the healthcare system is relieved. “We’ve been at or over capacity for six weeks, says Dr. Paul Silka, the Emergency Department Medical Director for San Jose’s Regional Hospital. Dr. Silka says his hospital has frequently been placed on “diversion” — a scenario in which new incoming patients are sent or diverted to other hospitals — because Regional is too full to accept additional ones. “We’re always making sure that the sickest of the sick are getting the care they need. But there are considerable waits and delays for those patients,” says Dr. Silka. Public health officials warn the situation at Regional Medical Center could soon happen to hospitals countywide. Read More

Napa Co. Seeks Volunteers To Implement Plan To Turn Fairgrounds Into Mass Vaccination Site
NAPA — Napa County is looking into turning its fairgrounds into pop-up vaccination sites. In order to do that, they need volunteers so Napa County is asking its residents to step up once again. “We urge everyone capable for volunteering to do so,” said Supervisor Diane Dillon, the chair of Napa County’s Board of Supervisors. “We’ll find a role for you.” Supervisor Dillon says volunteers answered the call to help with COVID-19 testing. Now, the county hopes it will get a similar response to get the upper hand on the pandemic as vaccinations shift from frontline workers at hospitals to the public. “We want to get it done as soon as we can so everyone pitching in sooner rather than later will get us back to that normal that we all desire,” Dillon said. She estimates mass vaccination is at least a couple of months away but Napa County wants to train its volunteers now as part of the Medical Reserve Corps program. Read More

Emergency Room Worker Dies Amid Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center Outbreak
SAN JOSE — An emergency room employee “has passed away as a result of COVID-19 complications” amid an outbreak that has led to 44 staff members in the department testing positive for the virus. In a statement released Sunday night, the hospital confirmed the death but did not indicate if the employee was among the 44 who have tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 27th. “Out of respect for patient privacy and the family, we have no additional information to provide. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this terrible loss. We are providing support to our employees during this difficult time.” hospital officials said in their statement. Officials confirmed the outbreak on Saturday evening. In a statement to KPIX 5, Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, said the outbreak began on Dec. 27. Read More

Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Third Payment In Your Future?
WASNINGTON — Is it too soon to think about a third stimulus check? The second payment is currently arriving in bank accounts, as part of a stimulus package many experts find inadequate. A Senate runoff election that will help determine the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s first term is playing out in Georgia. And COVID-19 remains largely unchecked as the country moves out of the holiday season and into the dead of winter. All of these events have implications for the future economy. So, no, it’s not too soon at all to begin chatter about a potential third stimulus check. The first round of stimulus payments went out in the spring to millions of Americans. At that time, the economy was rapidly contracting under the weight of a massive slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stores and restaurants in many parts of the country were ordered to stay closed. Unemployment soared, with widespread uncertainty about the virus and how it would affect people and businesses. Read More

Veteran Staffer At State Capitol Dies After Battle With Virus
SACRAMENTO — COVID-19 took the life of a veteran employee at the California state Capitol last month. Lawrence “Larry” Luna III died on Dec. 22 “after a battle with COVID-19,” according to a memo from Erika Contreras, the secretary of the state Senate. The 58-year-old was the automotive pool manager for the Department of General Services at the Capitol garage, where he helped coordinate the flow of traffic. He was “an always-friendly and dependable part of the Capitol Garage crew for many years, who welcomed Governors and arriving Members and their staffs,” according to a memo to lawmakers from Assemblyman Ken Cooley, chairman of the Assembly Rules Committee. Luna’s death came after state legislative leaders decided to delay their return to the state Capitol, a decision made in part “to keep all staff in the Capitol as safe as possible,” according to a joint statement last month from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. Read More

US Falls Short of Vaccine Goal; Experts Debate Delaying Second Doses of Vaccine
SAN FRANCISCO — The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is falling millions of doses short. The Trump administration promised 20 million doses would be given by the end of 2020, but the CDC says just over 4 million people have gotten the shot. “There are vaccines sitting around. It’s not that we don’t have the shots in the US. We just don’t have the well-oiled machinery to administer those shots,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. Dr. Chin-Hong says there are a variety of factors at play, including a lack of cold storage space and manpower. States also need more money from the federal government to support distribution. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke on Face the Nation Sunday. Read More

CDC Intensifying Efforts To Track New Mutation Of COVID Discovered In San Diego
SAN DIEGO — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to more than double the number of coronavirus genomes sequenced to watch for new highly contagious mutations discovered in San Diego and Colorado over the last week. The United States is now sequencing about 3,000 samples a week and the CDC hopes to more than double that to about 6,500 per week, according to Dr. Gregory Armstrong, director of the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. Scientists sequence the genome — the entire genetic map of the virus — to find mutations that could affect how the virus spreads. British scientists found a new variant of the virus was spreading there and say the pattern of mutations makes it more easily transmitted, although it does not appear to cause more severe disease. It’s now been found in at least 37 countries, including in the US, where cases have been identified in California, Colorado and Florida. Read More