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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San Francisco Officials Cite Fears Of Suicidal Children In Demand For Court Order To Reopen Schools
SAN FRANCISCO — It’s a stunning revelation included in San Francisco officials demand for a court order to force public schools to reopen. San Francisco officials claim the number of suicidal children has hit a record high and health experts say it is clear that keeping public schools closed “is catalyzing a mental health crisis among school-aged children.” In the motion filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, City Attorney Dennis Herrera included alarming testimony from hospitals, doctors and parents on the emotional and mental harms of extended distance learning. One mother, Allison Arieff, said she had recently found her 15-year-old daughter “curled up in a fetal position, crying, next to her laptop at 11 a.m.” Arieff said her daughter often cries in the middle of the day out of frustration and “is losing faith not just in SFUSD but in the world.” Read More

CDC: Strong Evidence In-Person Schooling Can Be Done Safely
SAN FRANCISCO — Amid a heated San Francisco Bay Area debate between school officials, parents and teachers, the nation’s top public health agency said Friday that in-person schooling can resume safely with masks, social distancing and other strategies. While vaccination of teachers is important, while important, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was not a prerequisite for reopening. The CDC released its long-awaited road map for getting students back to classrooms in the middle of a pandemic. But its guidance is just that — the agency cannot force schools to reopen, and agency officials were careful to say they are not calling for a mandate that all U.S. schools be reopened. Read More

Kiss and Test? Expert Advice on Valentine Couples’ COVID Canoodling
SAN FRANCISCO — With under 36 hours till Valentine’s Day, Le Bouquet on San Francisco’s Union Street is arranging a bumper crop of blooms. But, in the middle of the pandemic, are the traditional trappings of a day dedicated to love safe if you’re not shacked up? “I think it’s pretty tough for people that are single out there. I know a lot of my friends are pretty bummed out,” said Sam Skalbania of San Francisco. We asked Dr. Monica Gandhi, with the University of California San Francisco. She gave a thumbs-up to picnics in a park and dining outside under twinkly lights on a blind date with the caveat of masking between bites. “I know it looks weird but you gotta (quickly remove your face covering) and you put it right back up, right? That’s what you do when you’re with someone you don’t know,” Dr. Gandhi told KPIX via Zoom. Read More

California Expanding Vaccine Eligibility to Those at Higher Risk
SACRAMENTO — California health officials announced Friday that it will soon expand the list of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by another 4 to 6 million people, including residents aged 16-64 with higher risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday that starting March 15 severely disabled people and those with health conditions that put them at high risk can get in line for shots. Among those included are people with certain cancer, heart, lung and kidney conditions, as well as pregnant women, those with Down syndrome, organ transplant recipients and the severely obese. California has been plagued by vaccine shortages and Ghaly acknowledged he’s not sure how long it will take for the federal supply of shots to meet demand. Read More

Interactive Maps Provide Snapshot On Bay Area School Reopening Status
SACRAMENTO — As a growing number of school districts prepare to reopen for in-person instruction, California state officials have launched interactive maps offering a snapshot on the reopening process. Additional information provided by the maps include links to each district or school’s safety plan, the amount of federal and state relief funds received for public districts and charter schools, along with the amount of PPE on hand. Officials with the California Department of Public Health announced they would add additional data, including outbreaks reported and if they have partnered with the Valencia Branch Laboratory on COVID-19 testing. Student enrollment data would also be on the map, pending approval from the legislature. Read More

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Year Of The Ox: Bay Area Crowds Gather To Celebrate Lunar New Year Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
SAN JOSE — Communities throughout the Bay Area are celebrating the Lunar New Year despite pleas from public health officials for smaller, safer gatherings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. “I was surprised that people still came over,” said Dan Phan. He was selling firecrackers at Grand Century Mall in San Jose’s Little Saigon. The city is home to the largest Vietnamese community in the United States. Phan estimated the crowd at the mall, which normally hosts thousands of revelers over the three day holiday, was a tenth of what it was last year. A few minutes away at popular Buddhist temple Chua Duc Vien, the typically elbow-to-elbow crowd was replaced with a socially distant, smaller one. Read More

PG&E Extends Moratorium on Pandemic-Related Service Disconnections Through June 30
SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E customers will not lose utility service through June 30, 2021 because of a failure to pay their bill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, following an extension Friday of the state’s utility disconnection moratorium. The moratorium, which the California Public Utilities Commission first approved last year, was set to expire April 16, likely triggering a wave of utility shutoffs across the state. The CPUC also voted to require utility companies to draft and file plans to assist customers with back payments as the state plods out of the pandemic. “We believe extending these customer protections like stopping service disconnections for non-payment through June ensures our customers, especially the most vulnerable, have access to safe and reliable power during this challenging time,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President. Read More

AC Transit Offering Free Shuttles To Oakland Coliseum Mass Vaccination Site
OAKLAND — AC Transit plans to offer two free shuttles connecting patients to the mass COVID-19 vaccination site set to open at the Oakland Coliseum next week. The transit agency announced Friday that one shuttle line will operate every 15 minutes between the Coliseum BART station and the vaccination site, which is being set up at the Coliseum parking lot. A second shuttle will operate every 20 minutes between the Eastmont Transit Center, Coliseum BART and the vaccination site. Multiple bus lines connect to both shuttle lines. Lines 45, 46L, 73, 90 and 98 connect to the Coliseum BART shuttle, while lines Tempo 1T, 40, 45, 57, 73, 90, 98 and NL connect to the Eastmont Transit Center. Read More

State Health Officials Say Fitness Trainers Claimed To Be Health Care Workers to Obtain Vaccine
SAN FRANCISCO — A loophole created by California health officials allowed some fitness trainers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state officials. In January, the California Department of Public Health released updated guidelines on vaccination allocation that classified outdoor recreation as health care, the first tier eligible to get the vaccine along with people over 75. Some fitness clubs jumped at the chance of getting their employees vaccinated, KGO-TV reported Thursday. “Outdoor recreation was included in Health Care (Health Care/Public Health sector index 1, line item 22). As such, we shared that information with our employees so they could begin the process of receiving vaccinations,” Annie Appel, Senior Executive Vice President at the Bay Club Company, said in a statement. Read More

Kevin Durant Back With Nets After COVID Protocols, Cleared To Return Saturday Vs. Warriors
SAN FRANCISCO — Kevin Durant is back on the court, just in time to go back to the Bay Area. Durant rejoined the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, a day ahead of his return to the place where Stephen Curry said the Warriors played “some of the best basketball l think the world has ever seen” when Durant was one of them. “That was an amazing three years of a moment in time,” Curry said. Now in his first season playing for the Nets, Durant is set to resume what’s been a stop-and-start season for the star forward. He has missed three games for coronavirus health and safety protocol reasons, facing a mandatory seven-day quarantine after being a close contact of a team employee who tested positive for the virus. Read More

Sharks Return From Long Trip For 1st Home Game In 11 months
SAN JOSE — After spending training camp in Arizona and the first 12 games of the season on the road, the San Jose Sharks were happy for the opportunity to get back home finally and prepare for their first game at the Shark Tank in nearly a year. The Sharks opened the season as the NHL’s vagabonds because of COVID-19 protocols in Santa Clara County, spending most of the past seven weeks either at their temporary base in Arizona or traveling to games. That all comes to an end Saturday when they play their first home game in more than 11 months against the Vegas Golden Knights. “It took me a little bit to get my bearings walking around our room,” captain Logan Couture said Friday before the team’s first skate at SAP Center since the NHL lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic last March. Read More

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Oakland Schools Now Delivering Meals To Students And Their Families
OAKLAND — The Oakland Unified School District joined the food delivery business this week as district officials announced Friday the district will bring meals to students learning from home. In addition, district staff are delivering produce twice a month and meals for adults. “If DoorDash and Uber Eats can take food to kids, then OUSD can do it, too,” said Irene Reynolds, executive director of OUSD’s Nutrition Services. Each delivery typically contains a week’s worth of food, consisting of seven breakfasts, seven lunches and five dinners for each student and each of their siblings. Read More