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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COVID-19 Variant Discovered In Santa Clara County; Linked To Deadly Kaiser Outbreak
SAN JOSE — State health officials reported Sunday that a variant of the COVID-19 virus has been been identified in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County, including one at Kaiser Permanente’s San Jose Medical Center that led to several dozen infections and possibly one death. The variant — L452R — is different than the new highly contagious strain that has been spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom. But the 452R variant has previously been detected in other countries and states and is now increasingly being found in multiple counties throughout California. The CDC said there have been 88 cases of the variant have been detected in the United States — 40 in California. In addition to Santa Clara County, the 452R variant has been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties. Read More/a>

San Francisco Restaurants Barely Hanging On During Latest COVID-19 Shutdown
SAN FRANCISCO — It has been exactly one month since the San Francisco Bay Area’s Stay-At-Home order went into effect and as the days mount so does the financial pressures on restaurateurs who are barely hanging on. Bask restaurant owner Sabrina Thillard decided to temporarily close her tapas restaurant to give her team a break. She’s run Bask for the last 9 years. “I think the unknown is the toughest part, and honestly it’s been so long already that we’re always contemplating how many more hits are we going to take,” said Thillard.
Just one day after deciding to reopen for take-out and delivery services this weekend, vandals shattered the front door, adding yet another burden to the already struggling business. Thillard says without outdoor dining, business is down 95% compared to this time last year. She had also spent about $10,000 build a parklet, which has sat empty for more than a month. Read More/a>

California’s Chaotic COVID Vaccine Rollout Lurches Forward
FREMONT — California’s many efforts to get its vaccine supply into those who need it most is finally starting to accelerate a bit. One of them got rolling Saturday at a senior living facility in Fremont. It was a long-awaited moment for about 240 residents and staff members at Aegis Assisted Living. Their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine arrived Saturday. “We’re obviously pretty excited to have the vaccinations going on,” said Dave Pepper, Aegis Fremont general manager. “Our home office had contracted with CVS months out,” he added. “So we’re the first ones to get it rolling in Alameda County.” This kind of on-site vaccination effort through a pharmacy partner is just one of the ways California is delivering the vaccine. The state’s effort is scattered across some 2,500 vaccine distribution partners, large and small. That many moving parts is another reason it is taking so long to get up to speed. Read More/a>

Billions Lost In Fraudulent EDD Payments; Overseas Crime Syndicates Cash In
SAN FRANCISCO — While millions of Californians are battling each day to put food on the table amid the idled COVID-19 economy, payments from the state earmarked to help them have been ripped off to the tune of nearly $10 billion, according to a security firm hired to investigate the fraud. KPIX 5 has been among the leaders in investigating the EDD payment crisis. Blake Hall, founder and CEO of ID.me told the Los Angeles Times, that California may have paid out nearly $10 billion in phony coronavirus unemployment claims — more than double the previous estimate. Some of that money has gone to organized crime in Russia, China and other countries. At least 10% of claims submitted to the state Employment Development Department before controls were installed in October may have been fraudulent. Read More/a>

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Parents Staging ‘Let Them Play’ Rallies To Force Restart Of High School Sports
MARTINEZ — Cynthia Webster’s daughter would have played high school soccer this year had there not been a raging pandemic going on. She doesn’t think there’s any need for her daughter or any other kids to remain on the sidelines anymore. Friday afternoon, Webster was one of approximately 50 people — all wearing masks, most socially distancing — who lined the sidewalk in front of Alhambra High School in Martinez as part of a “Let Them Play” rally to generate support for letting kids get back to the playing field. That includes everything from high-profile high school football programs to T-ball baseball teams, and artistic pursuits like dance and everything in between to practice, play and perform. “I’m here to support getting these young kids back on campus, just like in other states, safely,” Webster said as she waved a sign that said “Kids Need Sports.” Lots of passing cars offered horn honks in support. Read More/a>

SF Mayor London Breed Joins Bay Area Plea For More COVID-19 Vaccine; Ready To Ramp Up Distribution
SAN FRANCISCO — The most ambitious vaccine distribution ever in San Francisco’s history has begun, but to fully implement it the city’s needs more doses of vaccine — much more. San Francisco officials unveiled plans for three large vaccination sites — Moscone Center in SoMa, SF Market in the Bayview and the main campus at City College. They’re in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the virus. The City College site, officials said, will be ready to open by the end of next week, depending on supply. “The vaccine doses we have received remain limited. We’re ready for more doses, we need more doses, we’re asking for more doses,” said Mayor London Breed. “We can ramp up and open these sites, the minute we have these vaccines.” The city said its goal is to administer 10,000 doses per day, pending vaccine supply. Read More

Supply Constraints Thwart Rapid Rollout Across Bay Area
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY — While Bay Area health officials on Friday said they are ready to ramp up distribution of the COVID vaccine to residents, hope of more doses being available from the federal government may be a false promise. At the federal level, new questions are emerging about the national COVID vaccine stockpile and future deliveries. California is still struggling to work its way through the vaccine it does have. That is leading to tough decisions about who gets vaccinated at clinics like the one at Diablo Valley College. “It’s an incredible moment,” said Debbie Toth, President & CEO of Choice in Aging. “It’s dystopian in many ways, but I think the work is being done in Contra Costa to ensure we do the best we can with what we have.” Read More

Santa Clara County Fears ‘Chaos’ as Vaccination Supplies Dwindle
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County public health officials on Friday said they’re alarmed by reports the federal government has depleted its stockpile of COVID-19 vaccine — a reserve that was meant to provide a steady supply of the vaccine for the prescribed second dose. “We learned this morning that no such stockpile exists. This throws into chaos expectations around vaccine delivery,” said Santa Clara County’s Chief Counsel James Williams. Santa Clara County has significantly ramped up its distribution efforts, administering an estimated 6,000 shots a day and 30,000 shots per week. But that system was dependent on regular new shipments of the vaccine. Without those doses, the county would quickly exhaust its available supply. Read More

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COVID Vaccine Questions Answered: Can You Still Catch Virus After First Dose?
BOSTON — Two COVID-19 vaccines are now available to certain segments of the American public. One was released by Pfizer, and the other by Moderna. Both require two doses, separated by three to four weeks, and both are ultimately about 95 percent effective. Initially the Federal government told states that only healthcare workers and nursing home residents should be eligible to be vaccinated. But, as of this past Tuesday, anyone at least 65 years old or at least 16 years old, with a preexisting condition, have been added to the list. Individual states ultimately make their own decision, and some states are starting to include teachers and first responders as well. The initial rollout has moved more slowly than everyone has hoped for. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 25 million doses had been shipped to hospitals and pharmacies as of this past Monday. However, not even nine million of those doses have been administered. Read More