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.


‘Switched Over To Scrubs’ – Firefighters, EMTs Aid Exhausted Staff At Petaluma Valley Hospital
PETALUMA — Two weeks ago, the staff at Petaluma Valley Hospital started getting vaccinated. This week, they’ve gotten more good news: Three firefighter-paramedics and six EMTs on loan from Solano County. “Normally, I’d be wearing turnouts or my wildfire gear, or my Class A uniform,” says Will Coelho of the Rio Vista Fire Department. “But we’ve all switched over to scrubs to kind of wear a different hat, if you will.” Coelho is doing some commuting, and revisiting the 100 hours of clinical work he did years ago as part of his paramedic training. “Starting IVs, taking vitals, doing blood draws, patient transfers,” Coelho said. “Helping these nurses out in any way that we can.” “You know, the staff are exhausted,” said Wendi Thomas, the hospital’s Director of Nursing. “The leadership is exhausted. We were really trying to get creative so we have been asking the county for help.” Read More

CDC Anaphylaxis Study Reveals Individuals Most At-Risk For Allergic Reaction
SAN FRANCISCO — This week, health care workers begin sitting down to get their second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. Before the booster shots are administered, the vaccinators ask the patient if they had any severe side effects. The concern is over anaphylaxis: a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It is known to occur rarely after vaccination. Now, when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control published a new anaphylaxis study in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“It may be more common that what we see typically with other vaccines,” said U.C Berkeley infectious disease expert Dr. John Swartzberg. In the first week-and-a-half of the vaccine’s rollout, researchers detected 21 cases of anaphylaxis after nearly 2 million doses. That’s about 11 cases per million. It is still rare but, the flu shot is more like 1 case per million doses. Read More

UCSF Medical Center Says 10,000 Frontline Staff Received Vaccine; Begins Distributing 2nd Doses
SAN FRANCISCO — UCSF Medical Center announced Wednesday that they have vaccinated nearly 10,000 frontline staff from COVID-19 and have begun distributing second doses. Hospital officials said in a statement that the vaccinations so far are only a part of the 21,500 employees in the initial phase of distribution. Frontline employees receiving the Pfizer shots include custodial workers, nurses, phlebotomists and respiratory therapists, along with physicians that are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 at work. UCSF Health said they expect to administer about 1,600 doses daily if supplies remain stable. The medical center received its first shots from Pfizer on December 16 and have since received additional of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Officials previously said that the vaccine would eventually be distributed to higher-risk patients, such as those 65 and older and those with chronic medical conditions, along with everyone in the university community. Read More

San Francisco, Oakland Superintendents Question Newsom’s School Reopening Plan
SACRAMENTO — California’s school reopening plan fails to support urban school districts and low-income areas, according to a letter sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday by superintendents in seven of the state’s biggest cities, including San Francisco and Oakland. The letter — which is signed by San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Vincent Matthews and Oakland Unified Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell — argues that the $2 billion school reopening plan is too vague in determining what constitutes a “safe school environment,” leading to individual districts implementing different standards of safety. Superintendents in San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Long Beach and Sacramento also signed the letter. “Our schools stand ready to resume in-person instruction as soon as health conditions are safe and appropriate,” the superintendents wrote in the letter. “But we cannot do it alone.” Newsom announced the plan last week for students in transitional kindergarten through second grade to return to in-person classes statewide in February, with higher grades returning later in the spring. Read More

Santa Clara County Officials Say Case Spike Is Stretching Health System To ‘Breaking Point’
SAN JOSE — Health officials in Santa Clara County painted a grim picture during a press conference Wednesday, noting how their hospitals were overwhelmed and their staff were fighting to save the lives of a growing number of coronavirus patients. “It has been relentless and it has not stopped and it is straining our health care system to a breaking point,” said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Director of Healthcare System Preparedness for the County of Santa Clara. Dr. Kamal spoke during a press conference late Wednesday morning about the difficulties South Bay hospitals were facing as case numbers continued to climb. “As far as the number of cases are concerned, to give you perspective, before Thanksgiving and in October, we were hovering around 4-5 cases per 100,000 people. Now we’re well above 50,” said Kamal. “It is ten times worse than what we had before.” Read More

Governor Proposes $600 Payment for Low-Income California Residents
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a proposal Wednesday to provide millions of low-income Californians a $600 payment from the state. The proposed payment would go to people with annual incomes of less than $30,000, including immigrants living in the country illegally who file taxes with the state. Roughly 4 million people would be eligible for the payment, for a total state cost of $2.4 billion. Newsom also requested the Legislature to extend a moratorium on evictions. “Californians who have been impacted by this pandemic will get help to provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads,” he said in a statement. State lawmakers normally pass the budget in June, but Newsom is asking them to act early on several proposals to provide faster relief to people suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic. California’s unemployment rate was 8.2% in November, the most recent month with available state data. But that doesn’t reflect the true number of out-of-work Californians, as many people have stopped seeking work. Read More

Oakland Educators Renew Campaign To Help Immigrant Families Through COVID Crisis
OAKLAND — Educators in Oakland on Wednesday renewed a campaign to raise money for the families of immigrants who are not eligible for a federal stimulus check. StimulusPledge.org is accepting donations to from the public and other educators who want to donate or pledge some or all their stimulus money. The campaign was started in the spring because many members of immigrant families lost employment or were impacted by COVID-19 and were having trouble paying for their basic needs. “We were shocked at what our families were going through,” said Anita Iverson-Comelo, principal at Bridges Academy at Melrose in East Oakland, which has been disproportionately impacted the coronavirus. In this latest campaign, educators want to raise $100,000. The previous campaign raised $250,000. Read More

State Orders Elective Surgery Delays In SoCal For Overwhelmed Hospitals
LOS ANGELES — With hospitals overwhelmed by the surge of COVID cases, state health officials have ordered that doctors delay nonessential “and non-life threatening” surgeries in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to free up beds to be used to treat those suffering from being infected by the virus. The public health order issued Tuesday night could result in patients being shipped to the Bay Area and other regions Northern California from Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where 14 counties were immediately ordered to delay nonessential “and non-life threatening” surgeries in order to provide beds. The order, which will last at least three weeks, also applies to any county where ICU capacity to treat COVID-19 patients is bottoming out. “If we continue to see an alarming increase of COVID-19 patient admissions at hospitals statewide, some facilities may not be able to provide the critical and necessary care Californians need, whether those patients have COVID-19 or another medical condition,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s public health officer. Read More

COVID Bay Area Stay-At-Home Order Likely To Be Extended Past Friday, Health Official Says
OAKLAND — California’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order for the Bay Area is likely going to continue beyond Friday, an Alameda County public health official said Tuesday. “My best guess is it will be continued,” county Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss told the county’s Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting Tuesday. But Moss said hopefully it will just be days later when the stay-at-home order is lifted. The order must be lifted for the Bay Area as a whole and whether it is lifted is based on the availability of intensive care beds in the region. In Alameda County, the availability of intensive care unit beds is well above what state officials want to see before lifting the order, but the Bay Area’s capacity was just at 7.9 percent as of Sunday. Capacity must meet or exceed 15 percent before the stay-at-home order will be lifted, county health officials said. The officials expect to hear from the state on Wednesday or Thursday about the projections for ICU bed capacity. California health officials determine when the region meets or exceeds the 15 percent capacity threshold based on a state formula. Read More

Study Shows State Among Top 5 Showing Largest Outbound Migration
SAN FRANCISCO — California is among the list of states showing the largest exodus of residents in a new study from a moving company. United Van Lines’ annual National Migration Study showed California is fifth among the list of states with the largest outbound migration, with 59% of moves out of the state compared to 41% of moves into the state. New Jersey topped the outbound list for the third year in a row, with 70% outbound moves, followed by New York, Illinois and Connecticut. Top inbound states were Idaho (70%), South Carolina (64%), Oregon (63%), South Dakota (62%) and Arizona (62%). While the survey indicated that 40% of Americans moved because of a job, 27% percent moved in order to be closer to family, which is up significantly from prior years. Data from March to October showed the COVID-19 pandemic also influenced Americans’ decisions to move, with the top reasons associated with the pandemic being concern for personal and family heath (60%), desire to be closer to family (59%); changes in employment status or work arrangement (57%), and desire for a lifestyle change or quality of life improvement (53%). Read More

Small Business Owners Struggle to Receive Pandemic Funding; ‘We’re Being Strangled And Just Left For Dead’
SAN FRANCISCO — Small businesses make up nearly half of California’s total workforce, but many are frustrated by the COVID pandemic economic relief application process and say there still is not enough money to go around. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that in his 2021 budget, he is proposing another $575 million to add to the state’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant, which would bring the total to more than $1 billion. The office said the program offers grants up to $25,000 to micro and small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “$500 million sounds like a lot of money to anybody, because it is a lot of money, but when you spread that out to 4.1 million businesses, that’s $122 a business,” said Rory Cox, Founder and President of the San Francisco Small Business Alliance. “Now they say it’s going to be $5,000 to $25,000 grants to the businesses that are lucky enough to get it. First of all, the website has crashed on day one.” Read More

63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Rescheduled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic
NEW YORK — CBS and the GRAMMY Awards have announced The 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards will be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in a joint statement. After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling The 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards to be broadcast Sunday, March 14, 2021. The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show. We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors and especially this year’s nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times.” Read More