CBS San Francisco Staff Report

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s been a year since the historic COVID-19 shutdown and the battle with the virus is still impacting our daily lives. Here’s a roundup of the COVID stories we’ve published over the last 48 hours.

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California Public Health Officials Reverse Ban On Cheerleaders At High School Sporting Events
SACRAMENTO — California health officials announced Friday that cheerleaders will be allowed at outdoor high school sporting events, reversing a previous decision posted earlier this week. In a statement to KPIX 5, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said that sideline cheer is allowable under the state’s youth and adult recreational sports guidelines. “Sideline cheer is considered comparable to competitive cheer as a moderate-contact sport and should follow all requirements of other outdoor moderate-contact sports,” the agency said. Under the state’s guidelines for moderate-contact sports, informed consent is required from parents, while face coverings, physical distancing, testing, and enhanced hygiene and sanitation procedures are strongly encouraged. Read More

CDC’s New School Distancing Guidelines Say 3 Feet Apart Is Often Enough
WASHINGTON — Students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines. The revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate. Some places have had to remove desks, stagger schedules and take other steps to keep children apart. Following the announcement from the CDC, Bay Area state Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) called for California counties to align their guidance on school distancing with the CDC. “I urge the state and our counties — including the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara, which I represent — to swiftly align with the new federal guidance so local districts have the flexibility needed to safely get students back in classrooms,” said Becker in a prepared statement. Read More

Newsom: Residents Older Than 16 Eligible for Vaccine by End of April
SANTA CLARA — Gov. Newsom laid out a timeline Friday afternoon for when all California residents over age 16 could be eligible for a COVID vaccine. He said the goal is to move to open eligibility in five and a half weeks. The governor also acknowledged the biggest hurdle in meeting that goal will be vaccine supply. An additional four to six million California residents with underlying health conditions became eligible to get a shot on March 15 and already there are supply issues. Santa Clara County announced it would have to reschedule more than 8,700 second-dose appointments because the county simply doesn’t have enough supply. “Everywhere in this state, people are demanding more vaccines and our only constraint is manufactured supply,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference in San Francisco Friday afternoon. Read More

East Bay High Schools Reopen Football and Cheerleading
CONCORD — Mt. Diablo High School in Concord opened its football season at home Friday. Many on the team doubted this night would ever come. The pandemic took a toll on the players and the coach was left wondering how many of his kids would be able to play ball. “Honestly it was hard,” Coach Donald James said. “A lot of kids have been picking up jobs, a lot of kids were dealing with financial problems at home.” The pandemic hasn’t been easy for some of the Red Devils players, especially for the seniors with dreams of playing football at the next level. “My heart goes out to a lot of seniors. I know a lot of kids don’t have scholarships and this is their way out,” Coach DJ added. David Clark is a senior who couldn’t be more grateful to be back on the gridiron. Read More

Children’s Fairyland in Oakland Welcomes Back Visitors
OAKLAND — Months after being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Children’s Fairyland in Oakland finally reopened to visitors on Friday. There is something magical about the fact that — after 70 years and a serious financial struggle after being closed for most of 2020 — Children’s Fairyland is still around in 2021. With 10 acres of land, the amusement park can have 700 people under the current Red Tier guidelines in Alameda County. There are other changes required by COVID protocols. Instead of selling printed paper tickets at the park box office as in the past, tickets are now digital. “Please have your digital tickets ready on your phone or, if you have the printout, please have it ready. We’ll be checking guest in momentarily,” the front gate guide said to parents and their children lined up to enter the park. Read More

Stanford Performance Coach Slams NCAA Over Discrepancy Between Men’s And Women’s Tourney Bubble
SAN FRANCISCO — Stanford Performance Coach Ali Kerschner’s instagram post criticizing the NCAA for the discrepancy between the men’s and women’s amenities at the NCAA tournament has triggered a social media firestorm from Warriors star Steph Curry and others. On Thursday, Kerschner posted a series of photos Thursday showing the differences in the workout facilities at the two tourney bubbles. The men are in Indianapolis while the women are in San Antonio. The post generated an uproar across social media, with other athletes weighing in. Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry took to Twitter, posting a TikTok link to Oregon women’s basketball center Sedona Prince showing off what the Ducks workout area looks like. “wow-come on now! @marchmadness @NCAA yall trippin trippin,” Curry posted. Read More

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom In Vallejo To Open At Reduced Capacity In April
VALLEJO — Six Flags Discovery Kingdom announced that it will open its theme park with a special exclusive preview for members, season pass holders and the general public. Reopening for members and season pass holders will be April 1 and 2, with general public reopening April 3. The park will operate in accordance with state, county and local government guidelines, and at reduced attendance levels. The park will also continue the implementation of extensive safety measures including some new advanced technology systems in order to protect guests and employees. In consultation with infectious disease experts, the plan sets standards for executing at the highest levels of hygiene and social distancing protocols. Read More

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Caltrain Latest To Offer Free Rides To Vaccination Sites
SAN MATEO COUNTY — Caltrain will begin offering free rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites in the counties it serves next week, joining other Bay Area transit agencies seeking to reduce barriers for residents needing the shots. Starting Monday, March 22, riders traveling to and from a vaccination site must notify a conductor and show proof of appointment or a vaccination card. “By offering free rides to and from vaccinations, we hope to remove cost barriers so that everyone across the three counties we serve has access to the vaccine,” said Michelle Bouchard, the chief operating officer of railroad. The agency said it would offer the service until further notice. Other local transit agencies have been offering free rides to vaccination sites, including BART, AC Transit and Muni. Caltrain has also joined more than two dozen Bay Area agencies in launching a list of vaccine sites that are accessible via transit. Read More

Third Stimulus Check: Additional Benefits In The Economic Relief Package
SAN FRANCISCO — The third stimulus check is already reaching the people who need it. But President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief package includes a lot more than a $1,400 payment. The American Rescue Plan Act  contains programs that support struggling families, communities and small businesses, and fight the spread of COVID through testing, tracing and vaccinations. Broadly speaking, it aims to ease the economic pain brought on by the pandemic. And some of the specific programs may also put more money in your pocket. Exactly how much money depends on your financial situation. The programs and the rules surrounding them have changed somewhat from the last two stimulus packages. When that money arrives is more a function of how implementation plays out in the coming days, weeks and even months. Read More

California Struggles to Meet Demand as Vaccination Eligibility Expands
OAKLAND — California’s vaccination eligibility expanded this week but many who would have been eligible under a specific category still find themselves waiting. “This is my second shot,” said Tesla Arteaga outside of San Francisco’s Moscone Canter on Thursday. “I’m all done, which is actually perfect timing because school is reopening back up for me.” Arteaga, a teacher, is in the 1-B group, among the state’s top two priority groups to receive the vaccine. That’s where the state’s priority grouping ends. There was, initially, a 1-C group that would have included 50- to 64-year-olds. The state subsequently dropped the 1-C group last month. “You gotta do what you’ve gotta do,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “The task here is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. In many ways, the perfect may well be the enemy of the good.” Read More

Bay Area Airports See Increased Traffic Amid Rising Vaccinations – ‘Trending In The Right Direction’
OAKLAND — As more people receive their COVID-19 vaccines, air travel is picking up at Bay Area airports, fueling hope that the industry may recover from the pandemic sooner than some had expected. “Things are definitely trending in the right direction,” Oakland International Airport Aviation Director Bryant Francis told KPIX 5. “We are seeing stronger passenger levels on a consistent basis over these last few weeks.” Oakland International is hardly back to normal, but hitting 40% of pre-pandemic travel is a milestone they are willing to celebrate. “I was just flying out of Newark and TSA lines were pretty full,” said Jennifer Ilonzeh. “And longer wait times than previously in the earlier times of the pandemic.” Read More

Asian American Attacks

Trump Tweet On ‘Chinese Virus’ Sparked Rising Use Of Anti-Asian Hashtags, UCSF Study Finds
SAN FRANCISCO — A tweet by former President Donald Trump in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic has been attributed to a precipitous rise in anti-Asian hashtags on the social media platform, according to a new UCSF study. Researchers examined nearly 700,000 tweets containing nearly 1.3 million hashtags in the days before and after Trump characterized the novel coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” on Twitter. “The United States will be powerfully, supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!” the president said on March 16, 2020. Read More

‘The Hell Is Wrong With Us?’ Newsom Condemns Anti-Asian Hate Incidents In Meeting With AAPI Leaders
SAN FRANCISCO — Amid a wave of attacks on Asians in the Bay Area and across the U.S., Gov. Gavin Newsom met with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leaders in San Francisco Friday to condemn the acts and commit to working with them to combat racism. Newsom visited the Chinese Culture Center on the eastern edge of the city’s Chinatown Friday and during a press conference he lauded the local Asian American leaders for the work they have already done in fighting bigotry and acts of hate. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) called the recent spate of attacks “the most significant set of anti-Asian attacks that we have experienced in our lifetimes” and marked a somber anniversary with the former San Francisco mayor’s appearance in Chinatown. Read More

Asian American Attacks: Elderly Daly City Woman Robbed In Assault Caught On Camera
DALY CITY — An elderly Asian woman was robbed during a daylight attack that was caught on camera in Daly City Thursday afternoon, amid an ongoing wave of violence against Asians in the Bay Area and across the country. Police told KPIX 5 that the victim was attacked around 3:40 p.m. in the area of Serravista and Norwood avenues. Security video shows the woman being run down by her attacker, stripped of several items of property, and then waving her arms for help after the robbery. The suspect, who appears to be wearing a dark shirt, dark pants with a white stripe and white shoes, was seen running for the scene on foot. Police said an investigation into the assault and robbery is underway. Read More

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Asian American Attacks: Volunteers Chaperoning Seniors in Oakland Chinatown to Ease Concerns
OAKLAND — Since the Atlanta spa shootings earlier this week, a group that offers chaperone service to seniors in Oakland Chinatown said they saw a big increase in the number of volunteers. The organization Compassion in Oakland was recently started as a way to make a difference in response to the rising number of attacks against Asians in the Bay Area. “I’m disgusted by all the hate and violence going around the country, but especially in the Bay Area where I was born and raised,” said Trevor Doyle, a volunteer with Compassion in Oakland. “When I saw the violence, I thought it was my duty to help out,” said Aaron Chow, another volunteer. Read More