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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California Suspends System Of Shared Vaccine Access Codes After Misuse
SACRAMENTO — California says it will be changing the way it manages vaccination access codes after apparent misuse in some instances. The state is revamping its plan to help essential workers and seniors in underserved communities get coronavirus vaccinations after officials learned that appointment access codes were leaked to people who were not eligible for the shots. California’s move comes as the state of 40 million people is striving to prioritize vaccinating the most vulnerable, including low-income, Latino and Black residents who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, as well as some essential workers. California says it will be changing the way it manages vaccination access codes after apparent misuse in some instances. Read More

Backlogged Cases Push California Virus Deaths Past 50,000
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported another 806 deaths from coronavirus during the winter surge, pushing California’s toll above 50,000, or about one-tenth of the U.S. total from the pandemic. The county, which has a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, said the deaths mainly occurred between Dec. 3 and Feb. 3. The Department of Public Health identified them after going through death records that were backlogged by the sheer volume of the surge’s toll. “It is heartbreaking to report on this large number of additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and a devastating reminder of the terrible toll the winter surge has taken on so many families across the county,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s health director, said in a statement. Johns Hopkins University put California’s overall COVID-19 death toll at 50,890. The grim figure comes days after the U.S. recorded a half-million deaths. Read More

Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral In San Francisco Makes Online Plea For Support
SAN FRANCISCO — A 167-year-old Catholic church in San Francisco is in danger of becoming a casualty of the pandemic, leading it to make a desperate plea for donations to keep the doors from shutting for good. Built in 1854, the Old St. Mary’s Cathedral sits at California Street and Grant Avenue between Chinatown and the Financial District. The old façade survived the 1906 quake and the church has become an interesting stop for sightseeing tourists, who usually leave something in the collection box. “And even if it’s a small amount, it provides for turning the lights on that day,” said Father John Ardis. Read More

San Francisco Opens Up COVID-19 Vaccinations To Teachers, Child Care, Food Service Workers
SAN FRANCISCO — Heath care officials announced Wednesday they were expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to San Francisco teachers, child care and food service workers. But officials also warned that “vaccine doses remain in short supply, and healthcare providers have been advised to prioritize second doses in the coming weeks.” “Getting people who live and work in San Francisco vaccinated as quickly as possible will help us keep our entire community safe and save lives,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “We’ve been dealing with this pandemic for a year now, and throughout that time, our workforce has kept the city going.” “From the grocery store clerks, child care providers and teachers, to emergency workers and restaurant cooks and waiters, these frontline workers have showed up for all of us, and I’m glad we’re able to move forward with expanding vaccine eligibility to include them.” Read More

Johnson & Johnson Single Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Clears Major FDA Hurdle
WASHINGTON — In an analysis released Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization. The efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against moderate to severe/critical Covid-19 across all geographic areas was 66.9% at least 14 days after the single dose vaccination and 66.1% at least 28 days after vaccination, a new analysis meant to brief the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee said. “There were no specific safety concerns identified in subgroup analyses by age, race, ethnicity, medical comorbidities, or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the analysis said In a briefing document, the FDA said that it has reviewed the data for the vaccine and has determined that it is “consistent with the recommendations set forth in FDA’s guidance Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19.” Read More

Stimulus Check Update: Why Your Next Relief Payment May Not Be $1,400
WASHINGTON — A $1,400 third stimulus check is currently working its way through Congress as part of a $1.9 trillion relief package. The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, in its proposed form, also features better unemployment benefits, an improved child tax credit and a $15 minimum wage. These and other possible programs are meant to provide additional aid to millions of Americans dealing with economic hardship stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. How it evolves will determine how much money actually reaches people’s bank accounts in the coming months. President Biden and politicians from both sides of the aisle support giving Americans another stimulus check quickly. While Republicans have questioned other aspects of the plan — like the minimum wage hike — Democrats control both houses of Congress and are willing to pass stimulus legislation on a straight party-line vote. Read More

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Santa Clara Supervisors Approve $5/Hour Grocery Worker Hazard Pay
SANTA CLARA COUNTY — Hazard pay for some essential workers is coming to unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County in 30 days. On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors voted to temporarily mandate large grocery stores and pharmacies to provide an additional $5 in hourly pay to employees on top of their regular wage. “This ordinance advances a significant public purpose that seeks to compensate certain essential workers for facing increased risks and incurring increased costs during the pandemic in order to ensure that they continue to have stable and reliable access to food, medicine and other daily necessities of daily lives,” Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said. The boost in pay would last 180 days or until the county’s COVID-19 public health emergency is terminated. Read More

Marin County Set To Expand Eligibility; Seniors Say Finding Appointments Still A Challenge
MARIN COUNTY — As Marin County is set to expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to teachers and food service workers, seniors who have been eligible for weeks say finding appointments is still proving to be a challenge. 88-year-old Ann Marie Edwards received her first vaccine dose Wednesday night at the drive through site at Larkspur Landing. Edwards said she is very grateful to finally get her first dose. Her son worked for weeks to get her an appointment online. Edwards is a Kaiser patient and she had no luck getting the vaccine through her healthcare provider. She’s not the only one. Zoe Harris, 79, told KPIX 5, “I’m a member of Kaiser and that’s what I wanted to do but they are way behind.” Read More

Cinemark Set To Open Theaters In San Mateo, Marin Counties
REDWOOD CITY — Following San Mateo and Marin counties entering the less-restrictive Red Tier, one of the largest movie theater chains announced the reopening of theaters in those counties starting on Friday. Cinemark announced that the Redwood Downtown 20 and XD in Redwood City, Century at Tanforan and XD in San Bruno and Century Northgate San Rafael would reopen on February 26. The company plans to open additional theaters in Daly City, Novato, San Mateo and its Regency theater in San Rafael on March 5. Under the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan, counties in the Red Tier can operate at a maximum of 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The company said its measures to prevent the spread of the virus include disinfecting theaters between screenings, staggered show times and limited capacities. Face masks are mandatory for all moviegoers and employees. Read More

Santa Clara County Opens New COVID Vaccine Site At Gilroy High School
GILROY — A new COVID vaccination site opened Wednesday at Gilroy High School, Santa Clara County health officials announced. The site will have the capacity to vaccinate about 1,000-2,000 residents per day in a city that has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. “I came out because my son lost his father a month ago from the coronavirus. And I don’t want him to lose his mother,” said Josie Potter who fulfilled her promise to her son to get vaccinated. Nearly 12% of Gilroy’s population has had COVID-19, said Deborah Flores, superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District. Read More

Proposed Bills Would Extend Paid Sick Leave for Essential Workers In State
SACRAMENTO — A pair of bills proposed Wednesday would expand emergency paid sick, family and medical leave for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a coalition of labor advocates and state legislators pushing the bills. Assembly Bill 84 and Senate Bill 95 would extend paid leave for food handlers and some transportation workers who are unable to work due to a coronavirus outbreak at their place of employment. Employees at any public or private food business as well as transportation company drivers would be eligible for two weeks of paid sick leave if they get sick or experience symptoms and would also be eligible for leave if they are caring for someone whose school or place of care is closed because of a coronavirus outbreak. Read More

Fry’s Electronics Shutting Down Operations; Victim Of COVID-19 Fiscal Woes
SAN JOSE — Long-time San Francisco Bay Area retail mainstay Fry’s Electronics has announced it will be shutting down its 31 stores across nine states as a result of the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, the company has struggled to keep its doors open in the wake of shutdowns forced by surges of the illness in California and across the nation. On Wednesday, the San Jose-based chain shutdown its website, posting a good-by message to its customers. “After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the company said. Read More

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Researchers Developing Rapid At-Home COVID Test That Connects To Your Smartphone
SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers are developing a new, rapid COVID-19 test that connects to your smartphone to reveal results at home. Ever since the pandemic began, researchers in France have been working on a way to test for COVID-19 quickly and accurately. “Since March, we try to develop a portable device everybody can use at home,” said University of Lille Professor Sabine Szunerits. The research at the French university started, oddly enough, with camels, llamas and alpacas. Scientists took tiny antibody particles from the animals called nanobodies. After some complicated science, they produced a device that plugs into a smartphone. A nasal or saliva swab is placed onto a strip and if nanobodies come into contact with the virus, the test will know it “You start your mobile phone, a signal will occur, and depending on the height of the signal, you can say if you’re COVID positive or negative,” said Professor Szunerits. Read More