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.

Santa Clara County Death Toll Hits 1,011; 3 Morgues At Capacity
SAN JOSE — Health officials in Santa Clara County were facing sobering news Wednesday as the region’s COVID-19 death toll topped 1,000 with three of the county’s seven morgues already at capacity. Of the county’s total 85,929 cases, 1,269 were from the last several days as of Wednesday. There were also 25 new deaths, bringing the county’s death tally up to 1,011, according to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard. The death count may also be undercounted, the dashboard notes, because the high number of deaths under investigation can lead to delays in reporting. Health officials had already confirmed on Tuesday that morgues in Santa Clara County were almost at full capacity. Three local morgues could no longer accept additional bodies as of Tuesday, and four others are nearly full. Read More

Berkeley Parents, Students Hold Sit-In Calling For Schools To Reopen
BERKELEY — Parents and students in Berkeley held a sit-in Wednesday, demanding that elected leaders reopen schools and listen to public health officials who deem it safe. The gates at Thousand Oaks Elementary School were open, but the classrooms and the school were not as Berkeley parents and students sat outside protesting. The students were writing letters to the Berkeley Unified School District and staging the sit-in to protest the continued closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the closest thing to in-person learning exercises these kids have gotten in the last year. “The risk of not going back to school is tragic. We don’t even have live instruction math at first grade,” said Berkeley mom Lei Levi. The sit-in comes as UCSF Health professionals call for schools to reopen February 1st. The letter released by doctors said, “California schools should be the first sector of our economy to reopen and the very last to close.” Read More

State Making Vaccines Available to Those 65 and Older
SACRAMENTO — California announced Wednesday it is expanding current eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to include residents aged 65 and older. The state announced the decision the day after the CDC announced changes to its vaccine plan. Among the updates was a plant to make more of the coronavirus vaccine supply available to all states. With the increase in vaccine, the federal government encouraged states to expand the pool of those eligible to receive the vaccine to individuals 65 and older. “There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state.” State Health officials hope the inclusion of 65-year-olds and up for vaccinations will speed up the distribution. As of Monday, 816,673 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered to health care workers and nursing home staff and residents, according to state officials. Read More

California Democrats Starting To Take Gov. Newsom Recall Effort Seriously
ANTIOCH — A petition to recall Governor Gavin Newsom is gaining traction, with nearly a million signatures already collected and indications that state Democrats are beginning to take it seriously. If Governor Newsom didn’t have enough problems to deal with during the COVID-19 pandemic, now he has one more: recall petition supporter Steve Scheye. “We’re starting to get 100 signatures a day at a location like this. When I first started, I was getting 10, 20 a day,” Scheye said as he held up a “Recall Gavin Newsom” sign across the street from the Costco in Antioch. Scheye has been volunteering every day to gather signatures for a recall ever since he lost his engineering job to the COVID-19 shutdown. He said a wide range of people are signing the petition. “They’re people whose business has shut down, small businesses,” Scheye explained. “They’re mad about big businesses getting preferences over small businesses. People that want to go to church. They’re not allowed to go to church; that’s a big thing.” Read More

Santa Clara County Warns About Misinformation in Fake Texts
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County health officials warned this week of unofficial texts inviting residents to make a vaccination appointment in the county. The texts wrongfully claim an “extra” supply of vaccines. They also provide a link to register for one of the county’s vaccination sites. To the county’s knowledge, someone was able to access the link that goes to the state’s vaccination platform, CalVax, and texted that link to an untold amount of people. “We know this because we had a huge amount of people show up to Berger [vaccination site] who didn’t have an appointment and they told us they were able to get on the appointment list by getting access to CalVax without going through our typical system,” County Executive Jeff Smith said. Read More

Golden State Warriors – Phoenix Suns Game Set For Friday Postponed
SAN FRANCISCO — The NBA announced that Friday’s Golden State Warriors game against the Phoenix Suns has been postponed over COVID-19 concerns. The league said due to contact tracing in the Suns organization, Phoenix will not have the requisite eight players needed to suit up for Friday night’s matchup. The Suns’ Wednesday night game against the Atlanta Hawks has also been postponed. Friday’s postponement is the Warriors first of the season. Several other NBA games have been postponed this week due to a rise in cases involving some teams. In response, the league and the players’ association agreed to new health and safety protocols Among the new protocols, players and team staff have been told to stay at home outside of team-related and essential activities. While on the road, they are prohibited from leaving their hotel outside of team activities or emergencies or interacting with non-team guests. Read More

Alameda County’s COVID-19 Holiday Surge May Be Stabilizing; ‘ We Might Be Through The Worst’
OAKLAND — There was some hopeful news Tuesday from Alameda County’s health officer — COVID-19 case rates rose after the holidays but may be stabilizing. Speaking to the Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting, Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said the unadjusted case rate in the county was 35.5 per 100,000. The number of new cases in the county has dropped in recent days from a high 1,296 on Thursday to 413 on Monday, according to the county’s dashboard.”We might be through the worst,” Moss said. Still, stay-at-home orders remain in place for the county, region and state and it’s unclear when they will be lifted. Regionally, that’s because the capacity of beds in intensive care units is below the 15 percent required to lift the order. Read More

Sonoma County Transit Agencies To Resume Collecting Fares Feb. 1
SONOMA COUNTY — Three transit agencies in Sonoma County announced Tuesday that they will resume collecting fares on Feb. 1 after suspending them last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sonoma County Transit, Santa Rosa CityBus and Petaluma Transit are the three agencies that will resume collecting fares and said they have all installed protective barriers for bus drivers to reduce potential exposure from riders boarding from the front of the vehicle and paying fares. Other safety measures currently in place, such as increased sanitation, reduced bus capacity and mandatory face coverings, will remain in effect once fares start being collected, according to the agencies. Santa Rosa Junior College students and youth can continue to ride free of charge with qualifying identification, and veterans may also continue to ride free on CityBus and Sonoma County Transit vehicles. Read More

CDC Expands Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement To All Air Travelers Entering U.S.
WASHINGTON — Health officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday announced plans to expand the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States starting later this month. “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19,” the release issued by the CDC read. “This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.” ALSO READ: CDC Anaphylaxis Study Reveals Individuals Most At-Risk For Allergic Reaction The announcement noted that variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were still emerging in countries across the globe, with at least one variant showing evidence of increased transmissibility. “With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public,” the CDC said. Read More

San Jose Kaiser Outbreak Spreads To Patients, More Staff Members
SAN JOSE — The outbreak of COVID-19 at a Kaiser Permanente emergency room in San Jose linked to a staffer wearing an inflatable costume on Christmas has worsened, with the outbreak spreading to patients at the hospital, according to health officials. A statement from Santa Clara County Public Health said 78 staffers at Khad now tested positive, with one still needing verification of the positive test. There are now 15 patients at the hospital who have also contracted the virus, according to the statement. One emergency room employee has died because of COVID-19 complications following of the outbreak, the county said. Kaiser Permanente officials have blamed a staffer wearing an inflatable Christmas tree costume on December 25th for triggering the outbreak. Read More