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.

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EDD Benefits Thieves Now Targeting Victims’ Bank Accounts; ‘My Identity Is Being Hijacked’
SAN FRANCISCO — Imagine discovering one day that your bank account has been hijacked by an imposter who has stolen all your money. It’s the latest twist in a hacking epidemic involving unemployment debit cards that KPIX 5 was first to expose last fall. Instead of stealing the benefits in cash at ATMs as we have been reporting for months, some fraudsters are literally hijacking victims’ accounts and transferring the funds to themselves. “I feel it’s very invasive. I feel violated,” said Michelle Barrionuevo Mazzini. “My identity is being hijacked!” said Linda Kucma. Kucma and Barrionuevo-Mazzini have never met each other, but they have a lot in common right now. Their EDD debit card accounts at Bank of America recently got hijacked. Read More

Surges, Community Infections Driving Potentially Dangerous Variants Of Coronavirus
SAN FRANCISCO — Public health specialists are raising a red flag about a strain of the coronavirus now circulating in the Bay Area and California. Now, more than ever, they are urging the public to follow public health guidelines and when it’s your time, to get a COVID-19 vaccination. All viruses mutate, but the surges and large number of infections circulating in the community are accelerating the development of these variants. This variant now at the center of attention was identified as L452R. It was first noticed and recorded in Denmark, last March. One case was recorded in Alameda County, in May. It was considered very rare until recently. “This variant is a sign that we don’t have this pandemic under control and we need to do everything we can to bring it under control and limit cases,” explained UCSF virologist Dr. Charlies Chiu. Read More

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State Investigating Possible Allergic Reactions To Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine; Alameda, Santa Clara Counties Halt Distribution
SACRAMENTO — A top state health official has recommended halting distribution of a specific lot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine after “a higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions” to it at a San Diego mass vaccination site. Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s top epidemiologist, issued the warning about Moderna Lot 041L20A on Sunday night. “Our goal is to provide the COVID vaccine safely, swiftly and equitably,” Pan said in the statement. “A higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions were reported with a specific lot of Moderna vaccine administered at one community vaccination clinic. … Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the CDC, FDA, Moderna and the state is complete. We will provide an update as we learn more.” Alameda County health officials said they were halting distribution of doses from the lot. Read More

California Becomes First State To Top 3 Million Virus Cases
LOS ANGELES — California on Monday became the first state to record more than 3 million known coronavirus infections. The grim milestone, as tallied by Johns Hopkins University, wasn’t entirely unexpected in a state with 40 million residents but its speed stunning. The state only reached 2 million reported cases on Dec. 24. The first coronavirus case in California was confirmed last Jan. 25. It took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on Nov. 11 and 44 days to top 2 million. California’s caseload is also far ahead of other large states. Texas had more than 2 million and Florida topped 1.5 million. The state has recorded more than 33,600 deaths related to COVID-19. Read More

Update: 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

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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