CBS San Francisco Staff Report

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With the surge in new coronavirus cases beginning to ease and demand for vaccination growing, the information you need to know is coming fast and furious. Here’s a roundup of the COVID stories we’ve published over the 24 hours.

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Newsom Signs Executive Order To ‘Bolster Vaccination Efforts’ After Criticism
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at bolstering California’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts amid criticism the state has received about the vaccine rollout. The announcement about the executive order came a day after the state made a number of changes to the COVID-19 vaccine delivery system giving California more control in order to “expedite vaccine administration.” The executive order would assist in efforts to vaccinate as many Californians as possible as quickly as possible by maximizing the number of health care professionals and providers administering vaccines. “The order confirms that existing law – which protects certain health care professionals and providers from legal liability when they render services at the request of state or local officials during a state of emergency – protects those health care professionals and providers when they participate in the state’s vaccine administration program,” the announcement of the order said. Read More

California’s Shift To Age-Based Distribution Sparks New Round Of Criticism – ‘A Political Calculus’
SAN FRANCISCO — Facing criticism for a slow vaccine rollout, California’s plans to shift COVID-19 vaccine distribution to an age-based system is drawing a new set of critics. Like millions of Californians, 32-year-old Adam Byers suddenly found himself wondering when he’ll get his doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week when the state vaccine tier distribution system changed. Byers suffers from a neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness, even in his lungs. He should have been vaccinated in Tier 1C “The lung weakness in particular makes me a high risk person for severe COVID in the event I would get infected. I am on extreme lockdown, for non-medical reasons, I have left the house once in the last 11 months,” Byers told KPIX 5. The updated vaccine schedule prioritizing seniors and then descending by age puts Byers and others in the disability community months away from their COVID-19 doses. Read More

Santa Clara County Allows Youth Sports To Proceed Following Outcry
SAN JOSE — In an abrupt reversal of its own COVID directives announced one day ago, the Santa Clara County Health Department is now allowing youth sports to proceed under current state guidelines. “Today, to address confusion regarding the State and County directives regarding youth sports, the County updated and consolidated its directives to make clear that (1) competitions between teams is allowed in Santa Clara County to the same degree as allowed by the State and (2) youth sports teams and other outdoor youth activities are not limited to 16-member cohorts,” health officials told KPIX 5 in a statement Wednesday night. The guidelines in full can be found here. Health officials went on to say that the state only allows certain youth sports to be played while the county is in the Purple Tier. Read More

Locals Learn Of New Rohnert Park Clinic By Word Of Mouth
ROHNERT PARK — The vaccine rollout has been very different in every Bay Area county. On Wednesday, some Sonoma County residents said they got their vaccine appointments through word of mouth. Sonoma County’s newest coronavirus vaccination clinic opened Wednesday at the Rohnert Park Community Center. It is a new kind of clinic that is part of an experiment being conducted by state officials. Hundreds of people turned out on opening day. “My wife picked it up through a friend of hers,” said Bill Caps, moments after receiving his first dose of vaccine. “Just heard about it, yeah.” Some of those who stood in line made their appointments barely a day beforehand. Word-of-mouth seems to have been the most common referral. “Some of the other people in line got word from their in-home support workers,” said Anne Gilbert. “Which is, in a lot of ways, word-of-mouth.” Read More

SF Restaurants Not Letting Rain Dampen Spirits Or Outdoor Diners
SAN FRANCISCO — For nearly two months San Francisco restaurants have operated as take out only. On Thursday morning, outdoor dining returns but rain may be on the menu. “Now they’re going to come back open again,” says Wayfare Tavern co-owner Tony Marcell. The Wayfare Tavern is an upscale downtown restaurant, with four floors of dining space, an extensive and sophisticated wine collection, and now reduced to limited seating in an alley. Wayfare is happy to have even that but, there’s still a big problem. “I’ve talked to some of my colleagues around the Financial District area and I know that a lot of us are aiming to not open until next week,” says Marcell. “It’s really a weather thing. It’s supposed to rain really hard tonight.” That delay will give Wayfare time to bring back staff and secure supplies.Down the street at another high end restaurant, Palio’s, owner Martino Digrande says weather isn’t a factor for him. Read More

Blue Shield of California Tapped to Run State Vaccine System
SAN FRANCISCO — The State of California tapped the health insurance giant Blue Shield of California to ramp up the state’s coronavirus vaccine delivery system, which to date has been slow, stilted and plagued by confusion, the state health agency said in a statement Wednesday. Another major health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, will also help in the effort to deliver vaccines speedily and equitably across the state of nearly 40 million residents, the agency said. Both are nonprofit companies based in Oakland. The contract with Blue Shield is still being finalized but its task is to “create, contract with and manage a statewide vaccine administration network” and to allocate doses directly to providers, which will include pharmacies, public and private health networks and hospitals, pop-up sites and community health centers, according to the statement. Read More

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San Jose Sharks To Remain In Arizona For 1st 2 Home Games In February
SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks will be returning to their SAP Center home after being relocated to Arizona since December because of Santa Clara County’s ban on contact sports, but not right away. The Sharks began the NHL season playing their home games at Gila River Arena in Glendale after holding their training camp in Scottsdale. On Monday, California lifted the Bay Area’s regional stay-at-home order and county officials said professional and collegiate sports would be permitted with some directives and amendments. Wednesday, the Sharks confirmed their next two home games, Feb. 1 and Feb. 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights would still be held at Gila River Arena. “After consultation with the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the Sharks Feb. 1 and 3 games will be played in Glendale, AZ as previously announced,” said Sharks spokesman Ben Guerrero. Read More

Other Trending Bay Area COVID-19 Stories

San Francisco Mayor London Breed: COVID Vaccine Supply ‘Inconsistent, Insufficient and Unpredictable’
SAN FRANCISCO — While San Francisco is ready to administer 10,000 COVID vaccines per day, Mayor London Breed on Tuesday said the city’s supply from the state and federal government has been “inconsistent, insufficient and unpredictable.” The mayor appeared Tuesday afternoon in a livestreamed conversation with San Francisco Deputy Director of Public Health Dr. Naveena Bobba and the city’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control Dr. Susan Philip to discuss vaccine distribution in San Francisco. “I know this is the topic on everybody’s mind,” said Breed. “We’ve never done anything like this before in this country, in this state or in this city. Vaccinating this many people as quickly as possible in the midst of a pandemic; it’s a complicated process with many moving pieces.” Breed noted that the city was in good shape with a plan in place to administer the vaccine at a network of sites once the doses are received , but that availability of the doses remained a challenge. Read More

Lawmakers Grill Bank Of America Over Its Handling Of Massive EDD Bank Card Fraud
SAN FRANCISCO — Lawmakers are turning up the spotlight on the massive Employment Development Department (EDD) and Bank of America problems relating to unemployment insurance benefits. For the first time, Bank of America officials addressed the issues publicly in a budget subcommittee hearing. Most of the focus centered on EDD and its massive backlog, but also the fraudulent transactions by criminals. For months, Bank of America has remained mostly silent addressing its EDD debit card holders, with crooks stealing cash from ATMS, and criminals emptying accounts online. “We are dealing with something unprecedented, criminals are sitting on a cache of stolen identities for some time and waiting for an opportunity to jump,” said Bill Fox of Bank of America. Read More

EDD Fraud: Millions May Have To Repay California Jobless Aid, State Auditor Says
SACRAMENTO — California’s unemployment agency might have overpaid millions of people since March after it stopped enforcing some eligibility rules so they could process claims faster, according to a new audit released Tuesday. As millions of claims poured in during the height of state restrictions on businesses, state officials decided to stop doing some of the time-consuming work necessary to make sure people who applied for benefits were eligible to get them. They also stopped their bimonthly checks with people who were already getting benefits to make sure they were still eligible to receive them. The result: Up to 4.1 million claimants could have to repay some or all of the unemployment benefits they got during the pandemic — some through no fault of their own. Of those claims. 2.7 million might have been ineligible for benefits at all and 1.7 million might have been overpaid. It’s unclear if there is overlap between the two groups. Read More

Project Home: Eviction Moratorium A Lifeline For Struggling Bay Area Renters But For Some It’s Too Late
SANTA ROSA — Time is running out for the state legislature to extend California’s eviction moratorium. If lawmakers don’t pass a bill this week, one in five Californians could lose their housing. “I’m like really distressed, so as you can see, I cry a lot,” Ofelia Camacho said. The statewide eviction moratorium is the only thing keeping Camacho’s parents and their family of seven off the street. “I feel like my parents have helped out the community a lot. We’ve given out a lot and we feel like the community does not have our backs,” Camacho said. Despite the moratorium, their landlord has tried to evict them three times this year, mostly for allegedly having too many people living in one home. Camacho’s father used to work at a local vineyard but suffered nerve damage in his legs when heavy machinery fell on him. Still, they’ve managed to pay rent, selling items at the flea market and borrowing from other family members. She is worried that generosity could soon run out. Read More

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COVID California: Deaths Remain High, But Rate of New Infections Falling
SACRAMENTO — Though new cases of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to drop in the state, California reported its second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths on Thursday: 737 new deaths. The state’s record is 764 deaths in one day, reported Jan. 22, according to the state Department of Public Health. California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to nearly 39,000, while total cases topped 3.1 million.Read More