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.

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations Derive From Thanksgiving Week Infections
SAN JOSE — From Wednesday to Thursday, California has seen a 2-day state record of COVID-19 deaths: 1,042. ICU capacity in the Bay Area was down to 3.5% on Thursday. Public health officials said they could predict the drop because they’ve now discovered that coronavirus infections follow a timeline. As of Thursday, there were only 3 ICU beds available in all of Santa Clara County. One public health expert says that, to understand why, we need to look back to Thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving has had a profound effect and we’re still seeing the residue of that right now,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, a public health professor at UC Berkeley. He says experts figured out these COVID surges actually follow a predictable timeline. After a holiday gathering where people have been exposed, Swartzberg says it takes about six days for them to become symptomatic and get tested. That sends the positive test rate up. Read More

Surging COVID Cases Forces State To Bypass Tough Nurse Care Rules
SAN FRANCISCO — Nerissa Black was already having a hard time tending to four COVID-19 patients who need constant heart monitoring. But because of staffing shortages affecting hospitals throughout California, her workload recently increased to six people infected with the coronavirus. Black, a registered nurse at the telemetry cardiac unit of the Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia, just north of Los Angeles, barely has time to take a break or eat a meal. But what really worries her is not having enough time to spend with each of her patients. Black said she rarely has time to help patients brush their teeth or go to the bathroom because she must prioritize making sure they get the medicine they need and don’t develop bedsores. “We have had more patients falling (in December) compared to last year because we don’t have enough staff to take care of everybody,” Black said. Read More

Monterey Superior Court Orders Cafe Shut Down After Multiple Face Mask Violations
MONTEREY — The City of Monterey’s Aloha Coffee and Cafe and its owner have received a temporary restraining order to close shop after repeated COVID-19 safety violations, Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni announced on Thursday. The order requires the owner, Richard Dunnuck, to close the business until he obtains a valid food service permit as well as complies with the state’s Regional Stay at Home Order and face covering orders. Dunnuck lost his food service permit in early December after he, his employees and customers violated the face covering requirements on multiple occasions, Deputy District Attorney Emily Hickok said. “The county tried education. Health inspectors came to their restaurant multiple times to inform them on their violations, but it didn’t work,” Hickok said. “So, they sent paperwork that their permit was in jeopardy if they didn’t comply and they still didn’t.” Read More

California Sets New Two-Day Record For Coronavirus Deaths
LOS ANGELES — California health authorities reported Thursday a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. The state Department of Public Health’s website listed 583 new deaths, a day after 459 deaths. The previous two-day record total was 1,013 deaths at the end of December. California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 28,045. The state’s hospitals are trying to prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds — and hoping they don’t have to make that choice. The state avoided surging cases for months, but now the virus is raging out of control there and across the nation in the wake of Thanksgiving holiday gatherings that authorities say vastly spread infections. Only Arizona tops California in cases per resident. The state this week ordered hospitals in the hardest-hit areas to delay many elective surgeries in order to free up space. Read More

Kaiser San Jose Issued Health Order Violation Over Reporting Outbreak
SAN JOSE — Kaiser Permanente’s San Jose Medical Center has been slapped with a public health order violation related to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the emergency room which has now totaled 60 cases and one death. According to a statement from Santa Clara County, a Notice of Violation of Health Officer Order was issued on January 5 because of Kaiser’s failure to timely report the original 43 cases involving staffers who tested positive between December 27, 2020 and January 1. According to the county’s public health order, employers are legally required to submit information about confirmed positive cases and close contacts within four hours after learning about the positive cases. “Kaiser Permanente failed to report any of these cases in the County’s Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal as it is required to do by the Public Health Order issued on Oct. 5,” read a statement by the county. Read More

UCSF Health Expert Proposes Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine by Lottery
SAN FRANCISCO — Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be more complicated than first believed. In California, the vaccine supply is limited, a more contagious strain found in Los Angeles is spreading and interest groups are pushing to be next in line to roll up their sleeves. The system feels chaotic and the potential to sow distrust is growing. UCSF Dept. of Medicine chairman Dr. Bob Wachter said California should consider a lottery system as a more equitable way to coordinate coronavirus vaccinations. “It stresses the system and it’s contentious. Everything about COVID has been contentious,” Dr. Wachter said. Just over 1 percent of Californians have been vaccinated and Dr. Wachter is concerned the system of delivering the vaccine may be overly complicated. Read More

Martinez Council Pursues Small Business Microgrants, Backs Cap On Food Delivery Fees
MARTINEZ — A microgrant program to help Martinez small businesses and offering support for a Contra Costa County-wide cap on what food delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub are among the measures Martinez leaders hope to approve this month. On Wednesday, the City Council discussed possible updates and expansion of existing measures to help small businesses ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief among those steps was creating a microgrant program, using $350,000 to $400,000 from the city’s “economic uncertainty” reserves. Council members noted $350,000 would allow 70 local businesses — small “mom and pops” with 25 or fewer employees, according to one suggestion — to each get $5,000 to help them survive. Mayor Rob Schroder said such grants would help not only the individual business owners, but the greater city as well. “We worked hard for years on revitalization (of the downtown area) and we don’t want to lose that,” said Schroder, who with other council members added that the money would be given to small businesses who could prove financial damages by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More

California Discourages Travel More Than 120 Miles From Home, Urges 10-Day Quarantine For All Arrivals
SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Public Health issued a new advisory discouraging residents from non-essential travel far from home as COVID-19 cases surge. “It is imperative that California take steps necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 and contain new sources of infection,” said the order issued by Public Health Director Dr. Tomas Aragon on Wednesday. Under the order, all Californians are being urged to avoid non-essential travel to any part of the state more than 120 miles from their home or to other states or countries. CDPH said that such travel within the state “threatens to exacerbate community spread” and that it can increase a person’s chance of spreading and getting the coronavirus, particularly those who travel by air, bus or rail. The state is also “strongly discouraging” anyone from other states or countries seeking to visit California for tourism or recreation at this time, amid concerns about introducing new sources of infection or introducing new strains of COVID-19. Read More

Non-Profit Founded By Retired Paramedic Helping Other Medics Manage PTSD
SANTA ROSA — A retired North Bay paramedic is helping other medics manage their work-related post-traumatic stress through a non-profit group she founded. Officers who respond to emergencies from fires to protests can literally bring their work home. Former paramedic Susan Farren says that stress built up over time can haunt them in forms like depression, stroke, even suicidal thoughts. “So often, we’re trained on how to protect buildings and lives, but we’re not trained to take care of ourselves,” Farren said. So she founded First Responder Resiliency, Inc. in Santa Rosa in 2018. The nonprofit has held 50 conferences and taught more than 4,000 emergency officers nationwide on how to prepare for trauma before it happens. “You can’t run a fatal car crash, a cardiac arrest, a felony stop and a fire and not expect that your body and your nervous system are not going to be impacted,” Farren said. Read More

San Francisco’s Camp Mather Shuts Down For 2nd Summer Due To Pandemic
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Recreation and Park Department officials announced Thursday that Camp Mather, the city-owned camp located in Tuolumne County, will remain closed for the second summer due to COVID-19. The 337-acre family camp site, located just outside of Yosemite National Park, normally hosts about 500 campers and 70 employees each week during the summer months. “We know summers at Camp Mather are very special for San Francisco families. We feel the same way,” Rec and Park general manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. “However, the health of our campers and staff are the most importation consideration. The COVID-19 transmission risk simply remains too high.” The decision to close the camp this year was made after Rec and Park officials consulted with health officials in both San Francisco and Tuolumne counties. Read More

California EDD Suspends 1.4 Million Virus Unemployment Claims
SACRAMENTO — California has frozen 1.4 million unemployment claims as it battles fraud in its massive coronavirus unemployment relief program, it was reported Wednesday. The state Employment Development Department said it had examined existing claims from people who said they lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and found about 3.5 million claims were “potentially fraudulent,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Nearly 2 million of those claims already have been disqualified and payment was suspended for about 1.4 million until they could be verified. The EDD said it would contact claimants to tell them how to prove their identities, the paper said. California, the nation’s most populous state, has processed more than 16 million unemployment benefits since March, a byproduct of the pandemic that prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to order businesses to close. The EDD has struggled to keep up with the demand, facing intense pressure to work through a backlog that at one time numbered more than 1.6 million people. The state has acknowledged that the department was bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 unemployment funds that went to fraudsters, including some in the name of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Read More

San Francisco Supervisors Urge $5 Hazard Pay Bonus To Grocery Store Employees
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution urging large chain grocery stores to raise hourly wages for employees by $5 during the pandemic. The additional $5 in hazard pay would last through the duration of the period that the city remains in the Purple, Red or Orange levels on the state’s COVID-19 tiered system for counties. Supervisor Shamann Walton, who authored the non-binding resolution, stressed it is for large grocery store chains and not smaller “mom and pop” grocers. The resolution was crafted with help from the United Food Commercial Workers Local 648 and Local 5 and aims to further support grocery store workers, who have provided food and other essentials throughout the pandemic. In Los Angeles, supervisors there approved a similar measure Tuesday. 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. In this study, more women than men had a reaction, including rashes, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Some were treated with epinephine. A small number needed hospitalization. Read More