Health Official Urges Tougher Restrictions; Anger Over Unemployment Benefits; Eviction Moratorium Nightmare – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The tsunami of news about the current coronavirus outbreak and now the reopenings can be overwhelming. To help you navigate through what you need to know here’s a news roundup of the top coronavirus and reopening-related stories from the last 24 hours.

Good News — Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Bay Area College Student Makes 3-D Face Shields For Kids With Special Needs, Frontline Workers
SAN JOSE — A Bay Area college student who saw an urgent need during the pandemic has created a solution in his garage. San Jose State University senior Brenden Pragasam started making face shields in his garage to protect his relatives and friends from COVID-19. Then a phone call changed everything. ”And I was like, ‘Hello?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, this is Stanford. Uh, we need about 300 face shields, we heard that you make them,’” remembered Pragasam. “I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So that’s when it all started.” The industrial design major has given away hundreds of face shields for free to protect frontline workers at Bay Area hospitals and community groups.Working with UCSF, he changed his design to make the shields lighter and more flexible for hospital use. Read More

For Uplifting Stories Of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Visit Our Better Together Section


Eviction Moratorium Poses Nightmare Scenario For Small Landlord
FREMONT — A Fremont landlord recently found out his property was being illegally rented out on Airbnb but state and local eviction moratoriums are preventing him from getting his house back. “I was furious,” said Avinash Jha, the homeowner about finding out from a neighbor that his home was being rented out on Airbnb without his permission. Jha and his wife Ami Shah own a home on Gable Drive in Fremont. Their tenant, Linda, is violating Fremont city law by allowing more than two people to stay there at a time. She asked them to reduce her rent back in March by $500 a month because of hardships caused by COVID-19, they agreed to lower the rent and now regret it. “They’re making money off our house and not paying us the rent, it’s kind of like crazy in every which way you look at,” Shah said. Read More

Lawmakers Demand EDD Send Unemployment Checks To Californians Waiting Months For Benefits
SACRAMENTO — A huge backlog has left more than a million Californians waiting for months for an unemployment check. Now, California legislators are urging the state to pay unemployment benefits now and fix its broken system later. California Assemblyman David Chiu who represents east San Francisco says he’s never seen such bipartisan support. He’s one of many lawmakers who signed a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Wednesday, demanding the Employment Development Department to pay up. Cecilia Vallerga of San Rafael has been unemployed since the pandemic began. “You get stuck in a loop that gives you a recording of the same two numbers to call,” she said. Read More

Southbay Health Official Urges Tougher Restrictions, Stay Home Orders To Get COVID-19 Under Control
SAN JOSE — A Santa Clara County doctor said Wednesday that now is the time to hit the ‘reset’ button, including tougher restrictions and sheltering in place for weeks to get COVID-19 under control. “I would certainly advocate for a reset, many people are advocating for a reset,” said Santa Clara County Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jeff Smith. This comes as the State of California electronic database, CalREDIE, is dealing with a glitch in the system. Smith and Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody believes the glitch has caused the system to underreport the number of coronavirus cases statewide for at least three weeks. Smith said during a news conference Wednesday that it feels like what the county was going through at the beginning of the pandemic when testing was scarce. Read More

Bay Area Schools Begin Waiver Application Process To Reopen For In-Person Learning
PALO ALTO — The majority of schools in the Bay Area will begin with distance learning, but the state released new guidelines this week for elementary schools to reopen for in-person learning in counties on the monitoring list. Private elementary schools will likely be the ones opening first for in-person learning if local and state health officials give the green light. Stratford School in Palo Alto says it is applying for a waiver. Now it’s waiting for health officials to approve its application. “We are still encouraging elementary schools that can put safeguards into place to look into the waiver process,” says Dr. Sara Cody with the Santa Clara County Health Department. Read More

Fines For Violating COVID-19 Health Orders Go Into Effect In San Mateo County
SAN MATEO — After weeks of warnings to mask up, as of Wednesday residents in San Mateo County who choose not to heed public health requirements can be forced to pay a fine. “People don’t take it seriously until it costs them money,” said Antonio Scott of Daly City. “It’s about time. We should have done this months ago,” said Daly City’s Cathy Brigaerts. It was Day 1 of enforcement after county supervisors passed the new ordinance making those who don’t comply with health orders subject to fines on Tuesday. It appeared most people were following the rules and most were in agreement with the fines. But for some, those rules are still a bit nebulous. David Fields is one of them. Read More

San Jose City Council Approves Renegotiation for Emergency Food Relief
SAN JOSE — The San Jose City Council approved the renegotiating of emergency food distribution contracts Wednesday night so they extend through October. Challenges related to the pandemic like rising unemployment, constricted access to grocery stores and lack of childcare while schools are closed, exacerbated food issues among the city’s low-income residents in recent months. Extending the relief provided in partnership with World Central Kitchen, Team San Jose, Hunger at Home, the Health Trust and Deloitte Consulting solves the issues for the short-term. <By July 31, the partnership had provided more than 52 million meals citywide — about 387,000 meals per day or 2.5 million per week — to seniors, low-income children and families, unhoused individuals and others who have been impacted economically, Deputy City Manager Angel Rios said. Read More

CA Considers Mandatory Employee Notification Of Exposure To COVID-19 Within 24 Hours
SACRAMENTO — With the coronavirus spreading faster than public health officials can track it, California could become one of the first states to mandate that businesses notify workers and state officials any time an employee has been exposed to the disease. A bill moving through the state’s Democratic-controlled state Legislature would require companies to notify people no later than 24 hours after they knew or should have known about an employee’s exposure to the virus. Violators could be charged with a crime and fined $10,000. California law already requires companies to report deaths and serious incidents that occur in the workplace, but it’s only recommended that they report infections, according to Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, a Democrat from Grand Terrace and the author of the bill. “If we are serous about getting this pandemic under control, we must get serious about creating a comprehensive reporting framework,” Reyes said.Read More

Facebook Removes Trump Post Falsely Claiming Children Are ‘Almost Immune’ To COVID-19
MENLO PARK — Bay Area-based social media giant Facebook on Wednesday confirmed it had removed a post from President Donald Trump’s page for containing false claims about COVID-19. The post was a video of an interview the President gave to Fox News on Wednesday morning. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement Wednesday. Stone added the specific comments that had run afoul of Facebook’s rules were Trump’s false claims about children being almost immune to the virus. Read More

California Ups COVID-19 Early Inmate Release Estimate Amid Objections
SACRAMENTO — State prison officials say as many as 17,600 California inmates may be released early due to the coronavirus, 70% more than previously estimated and a total that victims and police say includes dangerous criminals who should stay locked up. The releases also are causing consternation as probation officers and community organizations scramble to provide housing, transportation and other services for inmates who may pose a public health risk because several hundred have been paroled while still contagious. “It has just been a total madhouse, quite frankly, and we’re doing this in the midst of a pandemic,” said Karen McDaniel, the statewide transportation and services liaison between community groups and corrections officials. Among those released was Terebea Williams, 44, who served 19 years of an 84 years-to-life sentence for first-degree murder, carjacking and kidnapping. She was freed last week after being deemed at high medical risk for the virus. Read More

49ers Wear Monitors At Training Camp To Make Sure They Stay 6 Feet Apart
SANTA CLARA — During a zoom call, San Francisco star running back Raheem Mostert was asked how seriously he and his teammates were taking the threat of possibly contracting COVID-19. He reached down and grabbed a small device that was attached to a lanyard draped around his neck. “This is not a bubble. COVID can come through at any time. We are definitely doing that (taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously),” he said. “That’s why we wear these monitors that blink when we get within 6 feet of each other.” This is the NFL in the era of COVID-19. There are daily tests. Temperatures are taken. Distance monitors worn. Meeting rooms set up for social distancing. Read More

Santa Clara County Health Officials: COVID-19 Data Problem Has Them ‘Feeling Blind’
SANTA CLARA COUNTY — Statewide technical issues resulting in incomplete COVID-19 testing data have left Santa Clara County “back to feeling blind,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a news conference Wednesday. On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said California recently stopped receiving a full count of tests conducted, or positive results, through electronic lab reports due to an unresolved issue he did not describe. The state’s data page now carries a disclaimer saying the numbers “represent an underreporting of actual positive cases” per day. Cody said the lack of data makes her feel like the county has regressed to what it was in February and March when there wasn’t enough testing and data to indicate the impacts of COVID-19. Read More

Santa Cruz Co Passes 2 New Initiatives to Limit COVID-19 Spread
SANTA CRUZ — With COVID-19 case rates increasing in Santa Cruz County, local leaders began implementing creative options to limit the spread of the virus this week. After reporting over 800 news cases last week, county public health officer Dr. Gail Newel announced on Wednesday two new countywide initiatives: an urgency ordinance for health order violations and the Blue Check program. The urgency ordinance, passed unanimously by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, allows law enforcement officers or designated staff to penalize health order violations through administrative citations instead of misdemeanors. The citation will result in a $100 fine for the first violation, $200 for a second, and $500 for a third within a calendar year. Other counties in the area have passed similar ordinances in recent weeks. Read More

Santa Clara University To Shift Focus To Online Learning In Fall Semester
SANTA CLARA — Officials at Santa Clara University on Wednesday announced that the school would be shifting its focus to primarily online learning this fall and suspending plans to bring students back to on-campus housing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Back in May, the school had gone public with plans for the fall that were to include some in-person instructions as local orders allowed. Wednesday’s announcement cited “a worsening in the COVID-19 trajectory and demographics of infection in the Bay Area and California” as the reason for the updated plan. “I am announcing today that we have made the difficult decision that courses will be primarily online for our undergraduates, with limited exceptions,” President Kevin O’Brien said in a video announcement to students and staff. “In addition, we will suspend plans to bring students back to on-campus housing, again with some exceptions.” Read More

SFMTA Board Latest To Approve Caltrain Ballot Measure Before Friday Deadline
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors unanimously approved putting an eighth-cent sales tax on the November ballot to fund Caltrain during a special meeting Wednesday morning. The tax would generate an estimated $108 million annually for the agency, which desperately needs the funding to operate the system as ridership has plummeted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the tax needs to be approved by county supervisors and transportation boards across San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties by Friday — the deadline for the measure to make it to the November ballot. Last week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authored by Supervisor Shamann Walton to support the sales tax measure but with conditions calling for the San Mateo County Transportation District to separate itself from Caltrain’s governance structure, a move initially criticized by San Mateo County officials. Read More

San Mateo County Court Announces Cuts, Layoffs Due To COVID-19 Pandemic
REDWOOD CITY — Officials with the San Mateo County Superior Court announced on Wednesday employee furloughs, layoffs and service reductions, in response to the coronavirus pandemic and cuts in the new state budget. “The pandemic emergency left us with little time to plan and absorb the enormous revenue losses occurring statewide. We had no choice but to cut our budget, impose furloughs and issue these layoff notices,” Superior Court Executive Officer Neal Taniguchi said in a statement. The court said professional, management and unrepresented employees will take 5 percent mandatory furloughs, which roughly amounts to one day per month. A hiring freeze has also been implemented, along with reductions in the court’s non-personnel budget. Meanwhile, the court is issuing 20 layoff notices to employees represented by SEIU Local 521, after the court said they did not accept mandatory furloughs and the elimination of term employment. The positions will be terminated by August 28th. Read More

Pac-12 Football Players Ask Newsom For Help With COVID-19 Health Demands
SAN FRANCISCO — A group of Pac-12 football players with the #WeAreUnited movement have met with officials from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s staff to discuss concerns about their schools’ COVID-19 protocols and protecting their college eligibility. Meanwhile, UConn canceled its 2020-2021 football season Wednesday, becoming the first FBS program to do so because of the coronavirus pandemic, as other schools had taken the Huskies off their schedules and the governor was reluctant to allow UConn to travel to states with high infection rates. “After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season,” athletic director David Benedict said. ”The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.” The health risks from COVID-19 are also one of the main cores of concern for the Pac-12 players behind the #WeAreUnited movement. Read More

Pandemic App From Apple, Google Gets First Tryout In Virginia
SAN FRANCISCO — Virginia has rolled out a smartphone app to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Silicon Valley giants Apple and Google. The Covidwise app was available on the tech giants’ app stores Wednesday ahead of an expected announcement from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. “We’re using every possible approach to fight this virus and keep Virginians healthy,” Northam said in a statement provided to AP that encouraged all Virginians to download the app. “The COVIDWISE app is completely anonymous, protects personal privacy, and gives you an additional tool to protect yourself and your community.” It comes nearly four months after Apple and Google said they were partnering on creating app-building software for public health agencies trying to contain the spread of the pandemic. Read More

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