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 weekend.

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77 New COVID Deaths In Santa Clara County; Officials Warn ‘Deaths May Be Temporarily Undercounted’
SAN JOSE — The surge of new deaths from the current steep rise in COVID-19 cases in California continued Saturday with a state-wide record one-day total of 695 fatalities associated with the virus including 41 in Santa Clara County. On Sunday, Santa Clara County health officials announced an additional 36 deaths and the number of fatalities could even be higher. “Due to the high volume of deaths under investig​ation and delays in reporting to the county, deaths may be temporarily ​undercounted,” officials warned in bright red letters on their COVID dashboard page. The heart of the Silicon Valley continues to be the hardest hit of all Bay Area counties. Over the two-day stretch, the county reported 3,387 new confirmed cases with 217 new hospitalizations. The county also reached the standard maximum capacity in its ICU units. California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 29,233, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website. Read More

Frightening California COVID-19 Surge Continues Amid Promise of More Vaccines
SAN FRANCISCO — On Dec. 15, 2020, at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Bay Area history was made. Pulmonologist Dr. Antonio Gomez, a critical care specialist who treats COVID-19 patients, was the first person here to get a COVID-19 vaccine. “Over the course of the first couple of hours, I had a sore shoulder and I had no side effects from the first shot,” Dr. Gomez recalled. The next day, emergency room physician Dr. Tomas Diaz rolled up his sleeves at UC San Francisco. “I was actually the fourth person at UCSF to be vaccinated so this is actually a two-part vaccine.” Last week, both doctors got their second shot. “I felt a little bit of muscle aches and soreness but that’s basically it. No fevers or chills or anything of that sort,” Dr. Gomez said. Read More

Pleasanton Restaurants Defy Extended Stay at Home Order As Bay Area ICU Capacity Drops To 3%
PLEASANTON — The streets of downtown Pleasanton were relatively quiet Saturday night, but some people were out and about patronizing restaurants that are pushing back against the local and state COVID stay-at-home rules in order to survive. Chianti’s Reserve on Main Street chose to defy the region’s now indefinite stay-at-home order and serve diners outside. When asked for a comment about the defiance, officials with the Italian restaurant declined to talk to KPIX 5 on camera. “If you are at risk or feel uncomfortable you should absolutely stay at home, but I also think that this gentleman who has a restaurant should be allowed to support his family, the people who work for him should be allowed to support their family,” said Michelle Stratton of Livermore. “And the people who come here and feel comfortable coming her should be welcome.” Down the block, Baci Bistro and Bar was busy with takeout service, but allowed people to eat their meals at its outdoor dining setup. “I mean we keep trying to patronize them and give them our money as much as we can, but bringing it home is not the same and it’s just getting old,” said Carey Nassar of Pleasanton. Read More

Health Expert Sees Hopeful Signs in New Bay Area COVID-19 Infection Statistics
REDWOOD CITY — While the majority of the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold in Southern California, the state extended the Bay Area’s regional stay-at-home order Saturday. It was an expected move after ICU availability in the region dropped to 3%. “As best we can tell the reproductive number — the average number of infections, the number of infections one person produces — has gone down in recent weeks,” said UC Berkeley epidemiologist Art Reingold. Now, more than a week into January, the good news is that virus transmission in the Bay Area has not yet shown a post-holiday spike. The hope is that hospitalizations will soon decline. “You know, all of that could change in a couple of weeks,” Reingold said. Doctors say one possible driver of more cases is already here and we have a good idea about how quick it could spread. Read More

Private Practice Medicos in Sonoma County Begin Administering COVID Vaccine
SANTA ROSA — The progress of administering vaccines has been slow and frustrating. Now, private doctors in the North Bay are banding together to offer vaccinations to medical staff waiting for their shot at immunity. A small room next to Sonoma County’s Health Laboratory is meant to plug a large gap in who is currently getting the vaccine. When hospitals became the primary source of vaccination, those serving in private medical practices were left out. “We realized that we were going to miss out and not be protected as we continued to provide medical care to the people in our practices,” said Dr. Robert Schulman, president of the Sonoma County Medical Association. So the medical society set up its own clinic, vaccinating dentists, nurses and those who work in medical offices not associated with hospitals. Representing doctors across the state, Dr. Peter Bretan, president of the California Medical Association, believes it will be in a non-hospital setting that most Americans will eventually get their shot of vaccine. Read More

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Stay-At-Home Order Extended After Bay Area ICU Capacity Drops To 3 Percent
SAN JOSE — California health officials provided an update Friday afternoon on the state’s ICU capacity, confirming the Bay Area had dropped to its lowest level yet and would remain under the current stay-at-home order until capacity improves. As of Friday, four regions — San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area — remained under the Regional Stay at Home Order due to the ICU capacity of each respective region. While both the an Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions remain at zero percent capacity, the Bay Area region dropped to only 3% and the Greater Sacramento region was at 6.4%. Only the Northern California region remained above the state’s 15% ICU capacity threshold for the regional stay-at-home order. “At this time, the Bay Area remains under the Regional Stay at Home Order,” the release issued by the California Department of Public Health said. “The state will assess the region’s ICU projections in the coming days and announce a formal decision on whether Bay Area meets criteria to exit the order.” Read More

Sonoma County Prepares For Worst With ‘Mobile Morgue’ Trailer
SANTA ROSA — As deaths from COVID-19 have hit a new record of 4,000 a day in the United States, Sonoma County is preparing for a possible increase in coronavirus casualties. In the past week alone, there were 22 new deaths in Sonoma County attributed to COVID-19. That is more than twice the fatalities compared to the last surge over the summer when the average death toll for a week was 10 people. Last weekend, a refrigerated trailer from the California Office of Emergency Services was delivered to the coroner’s office. County officials are hopeful they won’t have to use the so-called “mobile morgue,” but it is available if things get more dire in Sonoma and the surrounding North Bay counties. “In reality. it is a gut check to anybody and everybody in the county that this thing is serious. And we just want people to regulate themselves,” Juan Valencia of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office told KPIX 5. Read More

Pandemic Ravaged San Francisco Small Businesses Hit With Burglaries and Vandalism
SAN FRANCISCO — Vandals, thieves and burglars have been preying upon financially strapped small businesses in San Francisco’s Richmond District since last October. K-Elements BBQ shared surveillance video with KPIX 5 which shows a man on a bicycle pulling up outside the boarded up dining platform on Clement Street. He stops and looks around several times before tagging the plywood. This happened in the evening the day after Christmas, and it’s happened about eight times since the city’s first COVID Shelter-in-Place was issued. “Definitely sad, because as a small business owner right now, we literally don’t have anymore income coming in,” said K-Elements BBQ Co-Owner Tony Lau. “The business is shutting down, we are not able to open, and now with this extra expense, it’s definitely harsh for us.”
Co-Owners Lau and Alfred Lee say they’ve spent hundreds of dollars painting over graffiti. They recently spent Thanksgiving day cleaning up the mess left behind with their families. Read More

Health Officials Must Speed Up Slow Rollout In Santa Clara Co. For Herd Immunity
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County health officials have given out fewer than 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since the first shipments arrived nearly a month ago. At the current pace, it would be mid-September 2023 before the county’s nearly two-million residents would receive a vaccine. Public health officials had hoped a rapid distribution of the vaccine would begin to slow the spread the virus that’s raging across the Bay Area. “All of the vaccine is not in the arm’s of everyone. But they’re all working very hard,” says Dr. Marty Fenstersheib with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Santa Clara County has on average, administered just under 2000 doses of the vaccine a day since the initial shipments were first received on December 15. Dr. Sara Cody says upwards of 85 percent of the county’s population would need to be vaccinated to achieve so-called herd immunity. Read More

Doctors Make Medical Breakthrough In Treating Severe Cases Of COVID
MIAMI — Doctors in South Florida say an experimental treatment involving stem cells has been incredibly successful in treating severe cases of COVID. The study involved patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital and at the University Miami Tower. Many of them had acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). “I think this could be a turning point,” said   Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the Cell Transplant Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. According to Ricordi, the groundbreaking treatment uses stem cells from a baby’s umbilical cord. The treatment has shown to safely reduce the risk of death and has made recovery time faster for some of the most ill patients. Read More

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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