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 last 24 hours.

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State, Federal Health Officials To Open Oakland-Alameda Coliseum COVID-19 Vaccination Site
OAKLAND — Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled plans Wednesday for a massive COVID-19 vaccination site at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum — a joint venture between state and federal health officials. Newsom said increasing vaccine availability will help hasten California’s return to some form of normalcy. “With these vaccines, with these case rates declining, we see light at the of the tunnel,” he said. “In order to get our businesses open, in order to get our schools open, which we are committed to getting our schools open for in-person instruction, to do that more efficiently, more expeditiously, we need to continue the good work we have done in this state.” At a morning news conference, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf thanked Newsom for helping to address the city’s vaccine distribution needs. “There’s never been a time where partnership has been more needed than now,” she said. “And this partnership…is going to accelerate the delivery of vaccines and get us back to normal as quickly as is safe and possible.” The state has tripled the number of vaccines administered daily over the last few weeks. Read More

San Francisco Sues School District Over Slow Reopening Plans; ‘Shame It Has Come To This’
SAN FRANCISCO — Frustrated as other Bay Area counties unveil plans aimed at restarting in-person instruction, San Francisco officials filed a lawsuit against the city’s school district Wednesday over its alleged failure to follow a state mandate “to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible.” City Attorney Dennis Herrera called the school board and district’s reopening plan “woefully inadequate.” “It’s a shame it has come to this,” Herrera said. “The city has offered resources, logistical help and public health expertise. Unfortunately, the leadership of the school district and the educators’ union can’t seem to get their act together. The Board of Education and the school district have had more than 10 months to roll out a concrete plan to get these kids back in school.” San Francisco Mayor London Breed echoed those sentiments. “This is not the path we would have chosen, but nothing matters more right now than getting our kids back in school,” Breed said. Read More

COVID Impact: San Francisco Chef Traci Des Jardins Closes 2 Restaurants
SAN FRANCISCO — Two restaurants started by popular chef Traci Des Jardins officially closed Wednesday after being shut down for almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commissary and Arguello, both 6-years-old and located in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park, announced their closures early Wednesday, thanking their customers for their support. “Dear friends: We are sorry to share that, due to the complicated pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the six-year partnership between the Presidio Trust, @bonappetitmgt, and chef @tracidesjardins has unfortunately come to an end,” read a statement on the Commissary’s Instagram page. “We are proud of the thousands of locally and sustainably sourced meals that our teams have served at our award-winning @thecommissarysf and @arguellosf restaurants, and through @presidiofoodscatering. We are sincerely grateful to all who have chosen to dine with us and trust us with your special events over the years.” Read More

Chase Center Eyes Concerts In Fall; Health Experts Hopeful For Herd Immunity Later This Year
SAN FRANCISCO — The magic number for mass gatherings, such as Giants games at Oracle Park or Warriors games at Chase Center is 70% of the population vaccinated. “It takes away severe disease. That’s exactly what all of these vaccines do and then it gives people enough immunity that if the virus is bopping around it can’t find anyone to infect,” Gandhi told KPIX 5. Until that 70% threshold is reached, Rutherford said proof of vaccine could be required to participate in large gatherings. “I don’t think it’s such a stretch to think about having that as a criteria for being able to do things,” he said. Gandhi said it is okay to go ahead and start planning once again for a future outside the four walls of your home. “Think about next Christmas where you want to go, think about your vacation you can go wherever you want,” she said. Read More

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Historic Bathing Suit Among Items Burglarized From Recently-Shuttered Cliff House Restaurant
SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities are searching for at least two suspects who burglarized the recently-shuttered Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco and stole historic items from the establishment. According to United States Park Police, at least two suspects broke into the historic building on January 26, sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. Police said that among the items stolen included a bathing suit from the old Sutro Bathhouse dating back to the early 1900s. The restaurant, located just north of Ocean Beach and known for its spectacular views of the coast, closed after 47 years amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a dispute between the National Park Service and longtime operators Dan and Mary Hountalas. Read More

Alameda Schools Begin Push To Test Everyone For COVID, Starting With ‘Unsung Heroes’
ALAMEDA — Schools in Alameda are looking to reopen elementary schools in a little more than a month from now with a COVID testing program that will test everyone in the district. But teachers and students will not be the first to get tested. The opening phase started Wednesday with the Alameda Unified School District staffers who have been on campus since the start of the shutdowns: food service workers, custodians and clerical employees. “You know, these are some of the unsung heroes,” said Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi. “Folks that have been here since march keeping things flowing we we’re ready when it’s time for kids to come back.” After this phase, things will ramp up fast. 100 tests today, 500 next week, and ultimately 5,000 students and 600 employees every week in the opening phase. The district hopes to get elementary school students back in class on March 8th. Scuderi acknowledges it’s a big hill to climb before then. Read More

Tech CEO Michel Thouati Organizes HelpBerkeley To Feed Seniors During Pandemic
BERKELEY — An East Bay neighborhood has banded together to feed those most vulnerable to COVID-19. This week’s Jefferson Award winner is leading the effort. Thanks to HelpBerkeley, 84-year-old Sara Knight gets a special delivery. “I have delicious meals I don’t have to worry about,” Knight said. Co-founder and CEO Michel Thouati says the nonprofit ensures senior citizens sheltering at home don’t go hungry. “It’s really moving. I get teary-eyed when I think about it,” Thouati said. He and several neighbors launched HelpBerkeley quickly at the start of the pandemic. Volunteer Leonardo Pierotti praises Thouati’s experience in starting tech companies. “He made it possible in ten days to do what no one else has been able to do,” said Pierotti. Read More

Grocers Association Sues Oakland Over Grocery Worker Hazard Pay Mandate
SACRAMENTO — The move by the City of Oakland to mandate hazard pay for grocery store workers has prompted a lawsuit from an industry group. The California Grocers Association on Wednesday filed suit against Oakland a day after Oakland city councilmembers voted to require large grocery stores to raise workers’ pay by $5 per hour. The ordinance was passed as an emergency ordinance, so it takes effect immediately. The grocers association filed a similar lawsuit against the city of Montebello in Los Angeles, which voted for a $4 an hour increase for grocery workers. “In addition to clearly violating federal and state law, the extra pay mandates will harm customers and workers,” said CEO Ron Fong in a prepared statement. “A $5/hour mandate amounts to a 28 percent average increase in labor costs for grocery stores.” Read More

San Jose Advances Toward Requiring Grocery Store Worker Hazard Pay
SAN JOSE — The San Jose City Council is one step closer in requiring some grocery store employees get a pay boost in the form of hazard pay during the pandemic. During its Tuesday meeting, the council voted 6-3 to draft a mandate requiring large grocery stores to pay their employees an additional $3 per hour until Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 health order is lifted. The measure, which only applies to grocers with 300 employees nationwide or more, could be implemented as soon as next week’s meeting on Feb. 9. Two of the councilmembers, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilwoman Pam Foley, were required to abstain from the vote after City Attorney Nora Friedman noted their conflict of interest. Both Jones and Foley own stock in Amazon, which is a conflict of interest because it owns Whole Foods Market — a grocer that would be subject to the ordinance if passed. Read More

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Contra Costa Health Officials Say COVID-19 Numbers Declining
MARTINEZ — Contra Costa health officials on Tuesday told the county’s Board of Supervisors the region’s COVID-19 case numbers are headed in the right direction, but that there is still plenty of work ahead. “Our daily case rate is starting to fall,” said county health director Anna Roth. “This is a trend we’re starting to see in Contra Costa County. We do feel we’re on the backside of the winter wave. The number of cases per day, per 100,000 residents, in mid-January was about 62. And it’s now around 30. We’re very relieved to see those numbers moving in that direction.” Countywide hospitalizations are trending the same direction. “Our high point was at 296 people in the hospital,” Roth said. “And today we have about 172. Sadly, we’ve also lost more than 529 people in this county to this virus, and it’s taken a very heavy toll on our community.” Read More