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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Iconic Saint Mary’s Cathedral In San Francisco Struggling To Stay Open
SAN FRANCISCO — Like many Bay Area businesses and nonprofits, California’s oldest cathedral is now struggling to keep its doors open. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the old Saint Mary’s Cathedral near San Francisco’s Chinatown has closed its pre-school, bookstore and gift shop. “Things right now are very, very difficult right now,” said Father John Ardis. On top of that, the 167-year-old church is facing heavy maintenance costs. It also owes $250,000 in insurance payments. Father Ardis says donations have dried up since services moved online. “We’re a parish that’s also always served the tourists, and on any given weekend probably half of the people that worship at mass are visiting,” said Father Ardis. “Since March 14, there really haven’t been any tourists in town.” Read More

San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital Closes COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Following Scandal
SAN JOSE — Good Samaritan Hospital, one of the largest medical centers in Santa Clara County, is permanently closing its COVID-19 vaccine clinic, claiming that it has vaccinated all of its staff and therefore fulfilled its responsibilities. The news comes three weeks after the hospital faced backlash for allowing teachers and staff at an affluent Los Gatos school district to skip the line for COVID-19 vaccines by pretending to be health care workers. The story, first reported by San Jose Spotlight, generated widespread outcry and led to the county withholding future vaccine doses from the hospital. In an email obtained by this news organization, the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Klaus Thaler told staff that state-level changes in vaccine distribution have caused uncertainty about how the hospital’s vaccine supply will be impacted. Read More

One SJ Church Defies Ban On Gatherings While Another Sees It As A Blessing
SAN JOSE — Last week the Supreme Court struck down California’s ban on indoor church services to stop the spread of COVID-19 as a violation of religious freedom. Then, other federal courts upheld Santa Clara county’s ban, adding to the confusion and frustration. “I think people outside of church are looking at us and just saying, ‘Man, do they understand what’s going on,'” said Adam Ybarra. “If a parishioner does catch COVID from a service, the community is not going to forgive that, family members are not going to forgive that and nobody wins.” Ybarra, who is a parishioner at Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, said he sensed frustration among his friends who are pastors about last week’s ruling that kept the county’s ban in place. But he said that the health of the community should be priority. “It’s real, it’s a real frustration, because folks are saying, ‘Look, the bars are still, there’s still things that are open,” he said. Read More

Oakland Coliseum Mass Vaccination Site Set To Open Tuesday
OAKLAND — Despite the vaccine shortage that has closed two of San Francisco’s main COVID vaccination centers, in less than 24 hours one of the state’s largest vaccination sites is set to open at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The site will open two days after appointments were made available online for eligible Alameda County residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the location. Residents with priority for the site include front line workers, long-term care providers, people 65 and older, educators. Registration for appointments is available online at Read More

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More Than Half of Santa Clara County Residents Age 75 Or Older Vaccinated
SAN JOSE — Recent data obtained by the state shows that as of Monday, more than half of residents in Santa Clara County over the age of 75 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The data came from the California Department of Public Health, which showed that a total of 232,761 residents were partially or fully vaccinated as of Monday. County health officials say the numbers show “strong progress” towards the county’s goal of vaccinating at least 85% of residents age 16 or older by Aug. 1, 2021. “It is heartening to see that as a county, we have made such great progress in vaccinating our older residents who are at very high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer for the County of Santa Clara. Read More

Marin County Expands Eligibility To Those 65 and Older
MARIN COUNTY — Marin County health officials have announced that starting Monday, residents age 65 and older will be eligible to register to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Marin County Public Health has worked with health care providers to focus on an immunization program for those 75 and older since January 21 in a joint strategy designed to protect those most at risk to COVID-19, health officials said. Approximately three-quarters of Marin’s COVID-19 deaths have been in that age group. According to Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis, enough progress has been made immunizing that older group of residents thanks to that effort to warrant opening vaccinations to the next age-group tier. “We’ve vaccinated 60% of our residents age 75 and older,” Willis said in a press release. “We’re ready to join other Bay Area counties that have expanded to the next highest-risk group, or residents over age 65.” Read More

Santa Clara County Begins Using Saliva Samples at Certain Sites
SAN JOSE — To increase efforts to control the coronavirus, starting Tuesday, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 pop-up testing sites are switching to testing via saliva specimen. This new method of testing, which requires individuals to provide about 3 milliliters of saliva in a testing tube, offers a faster and easier experience as opposed to the nasal swab, county officials said. And because individuals would collect the saliva into the tube themselves, saliva testing could be safer for staff at testing sites. “This is another example of how we continue to find ways to improve our testing processes and make it more accessible for our community,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, county COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer. Recent research found that saliva tests detected the virus’ genetic material in saliva samples at a similar rate as swabs collected from the nose or mouth, according to a December study by researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Read More

United Airlines Launches In-Airport Passenger COVID Testing
NEW YORK — United Airlines has become the first U.S. airline to offer passengers access to in-airport coronavirus testing. The rollout is a streamlined way for passengers to book a ticket, schedule a test and upload the results on the company’s app, in what travel experts say could be the “new normal” of travel. Almost a year into the pandemic, people across the globe are still confused over how to follow a patchwork of COVID-19 travel guidelines and protocols. United Airlines’ “Travel Ready Center” is aiming to fix the issue. Read More

San Francisco Mass Vaccination Sites On Pause As COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Runs Short
SAN FRANCISCO — With demand soaring and the supply of COVID-19 vaccine limited, San Francisco health officials announced Sunday they were pausing operations at the city’s mass vaccination sites located at Moscone Center and City College. Operations at Moscone Center will be shut down starting Monday for at least for a week. City College will be shut down until Friday and then vaccinations will be limited to those needing second doses. “The vaccine supply coming to San Francisco’s healthcare providers and the Department of Public Health is limited, inconsistent, and unpredictable, making vaccine roll out difficult and denying San Franciscans this potentially life-saving intervention,” officials said in Sunday’s announcement. The number of vaccines given out soared over the last week with healthcare providers, pharmacies and the health department all administering shots to San Francisco residents. Read More

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Grateful for Vaccination, South Bay Couple Looks Back on Decades of Valentine’s Day Memories
SAN JOSE — The pandemic has turned the world upside down for a lot of people but one couple in the South Bay is taking the long view of history and it’s a history they’ve experienced together. Sunday, the Oakmont Assisted Living community in San Jose was all decked out for Valentines Day. And by offering a second round of vaccination, they were hoping to soon be able to see residents hug family members kept apart for nearly a year now. “That’s the hope,” said Oakmont’s Heather Evans. “Of course, we need to wait for the guidelines. I think all of us are kind of in a standby with that.” One couple holds the Valentine record for the house. Fritz and Marjorie Buell have been married for 67 years and, Sunday, they got their COVID-19 shots to make sure there are even more. Read More