Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: August 17-18
The Chronicle began covering the coronavirus crisis before the first cases were reported in the Bay Area and a pandemic was declared. We reorganized the newsroom to dedicate nearly every resource to stories focusing on the health and economic disasters. Every day we have published live updates to reflect the most critical local, national and global updates on COVID-19, and this news is free of charge in an effort to keep our community safe and informed.
• Read the previous batch of updates from Aug. 15-16.
• See the full timeline.
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 18:
5 p.m. Bay Area leaders to discuss racial disparities amid COVID-19 pandemic: Bay Area leaders are scheduled to speak in Oakland’s COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force virtual meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. A panel of local leaders — including Jane Garcia, the CEO of La Clinica de la Raza; Gabriela Galicia, the executive director of the Street Level Health Project; Chris Iglesias, the CEO of Unity Council; and Dr. Alicia Fernandez, a professor of medicine at UCSF — will discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Latinx community. Viewers can submit questions here.
3:31 p.m. SF man arrested in school computer theft: A San Francisco man was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries, including the theft of about 100 laptop computers from a Richmond District school, authorities said Tuesday. Laptops have become especially critical as the coronavirus forces many schools to employ distance learning to keep kids and staff safe.
3:26 p.m. Nursing homes win on fines: In a victory for nursing homes, the California Supreme Court says patients harmed by a facility’s failure to comply with multiple state safety standards can collect only a single $500 penalty, in addition to damages a jury may award for the home’s negligence. Read The Chronicle’s story about the ruling stemming from the case of a 91-year-old Riverside County nursing home resident.
3:19 p.m. Hundreds of new cases in Bay Area: Alameda County confirmed another 307 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, bringing its total to 15,437 cases to date, and recorded 3 more deaths for a total of 224 so far. Contra Costa added 260 cases for a cumulative total of 11,668. And Santa Clara County confirmed 236 cases for a total of 14,872 so far, and recorded four deaths, for 213 lives claimed by COVID-19 to date.
3:11 p.m. Absentee ballots and vote by mail are used interchangeably: As the pandemic makes voting by mail appealing to more people, President Trump has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting as a less secure method than absentee voting, claiming without evidence that it will lead to rampant fraud — and creating confusion about whether there is a difference between those practices. The Washington Post clarifies that while some states prefer one term over the other, both “absentee voting” and “mail-in voting” refer to the method of using the mail to deliver ballots to voters. In any event, all ballots delivered to voters by mail are verified before they are counted.
2:43 p.m. U.S. Open employs social distance monitors: Forty “social distance ambassadors” will monitor the U.S. Open grounds to make sure players and others are avoiding close contact and wearing face coverings as part of efforts to avoid a coronavirus outbreak during the fan-free Grand Slam tournament. The U.S. Tennis Association bought 500,000 masks to distribute.
2:36 p.m. Louisiana governor demands mail voting options tailored to pandemic: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he will reject an emergency plan for the fall elections, offered by the Republican secretary of state, because it doesn’t expand mail-in balloting options for people quarantined or at greater risk of serious harm from COVID-19. The proposal needs backing from both the majority-GOP Louisiana legislature and Edwards to take effect.
2:26 p.m. Notre Dame switches to distance learning: University of Notre Dame will move to remote instruction after a rise in coronavirus cases at the South Bend, Ind., campus, the president, the Rev. John Jenkins, announced Tuesday. The move came a day after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shifted to remote teaching for the same reason. Jenkins cited 147 positive cases reported so far. The school will close public spaces and limit residence halls to residents only for the next two weeks.
2:11 p.m. Coronavirus disparity impacts children in California, too: More than 570 Californians under age 17 have been admitted to hospitals for COVID-19, with 16 of them in intensive care units, according to Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary. He said 71.5% of the hospitalized kids are Latino.
2 p.m. California to join suit over Trump administration Postal Service policies: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that he would join a nationwide lawsuit over proposed U.S. Postal Service changes that Democrats fear are to sabotage mail-in voting. His announcement came as the postmaster general said he would back off on the changes until after the November election, “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” The lawsuit by four other states plus California will argue that illegal changes will undermine the timely delivery of mail.
1:25 p.m. Stocks mostly higher: The S&P 500 index recorded its first record close since Feb. 19 in what was the fastest recovery from bear-market territory in its history. It rose eight points to close at 3,390, just 126 trading sessions after the slide. The Nasdaq saw its 34th record close for the year, up 0.7% to 11,210. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.24% to close at 27,778.07.
1:17 p.m. San Diego County gets off the state watch list: California has removed San Diego County from the list of those being monitored for progress on the coronavirus, the state announced Tuesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom foreshadowed the move on Monday in announcing that another group of counties were added to the list. Indoor closures are triggered when a county, based on coronavirus case and hospitalization metrics, is put on the monitoring list.
12:59 p.m. Official says California coronavirus numbers stabilizing: Even though a handful of counties were added to the state’s coronavirus watch list, California is moving in the right direction, Mark Ghaly, state Health and Human Services secretary, said Tuesday. “Overall, the state picture is stabilizing and coming down some,” he said. “Many counties across the state are doing things really well.” Ghaly cited increased use of masks and counties’ disease investigation and support of isolation for infected individuals as reasons for the improvement. Read The Chronicle’s story.
12:38 p.m. Drive-ups welcomed at fast-test site: Santa Clara County launched its new mass-capacity coronavirus testing site on Tuesday at the county fairgrounds. Cars arrived for drive-up tests, and plans are for walk-ups and bike-ups. County officials told a press briefing the site has a capacity for 1,000 daily tests, with results expected within three days. Appointments are required at Sccfreetest.org. “The reason that we are still fighting (the pandemic) is that we have not had the tools to get us out,” said county health officer Dr. Sara Cody. “One of the most important tools to get us out is testing.”
12:22 p.m. Ghaly says state is up to date following data glitch: Mark Ghaly, California’s top health official, said the state is looking for a replacement data system that’s less prone to technical problems like the extended glitch that caused the recent coronavirus data backlog. The state’s data now is up to date following that glitch with the electronic case reporting system known as CalREDIE. “We have no current backlog — no unusual number of cases waiting to be processed,” he said on Tuesday. “Our CalREDDIE system is working as it should.”
12:19 p.m. California to be aggressive on flu vaccines: “Flu season is right around the corner and we must be prepared,” Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said Tuesday. At a news briefing, he urged people to get their flu shots, and said the state will be aggressive in rolling out vaccine shipments to prevent a strain on hospitals. “Outbreaks of flu and COVID together will certainly cause a drain on scarce resources,” he said.
11:59 a.m. Contra Costa County schools can apply to return to campus: Elementary schools in Contra Costa County can apply beginning Wednesday to hold in-person classes, the county announced Tuesday. California allows superintendents and private school administrators to seek county health approval based on local coronavirus status, “public health interventions” and consultation with state health officials. Contra Costa County has a checklist of school safety measures required for reopening. Santa Clara, Sonoma and Marin counties already have launched the waiver application process for their schools.
11:42 a.m. Nursing homes hit this summer by massive increase in COVID-19: Cases of COVID-19 in U.S. nursing homes jumped nearly 80% earlier this summer, driven by rampant spread across the South and much of the West, according to an industry report Monday. Long-term care facilities account for less than 1% of the U.S. population, but more than 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
11:25 a.m. Post Office will hold off on changes: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he is halting some operational changes until after the November election. Democrats had contended that the changes caused disruptions that threatened mail-in voting, and some states planned to file lawsuits. DeJoy said he’ll “suspend” his initiatives “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.” Post Office hours will not change and mail-processing equipment and boxes will remain, he said. No facilities will be closed, and overtime will be approved “as needed.”
11:02 a.m. SF resident lays father’s death at feet of Trump in convention speech: San Francisco resident Kristin Urquiza, speaking at the Democratic online convention, blamed President Trump’s handling of the pandemic for her dad’s COVID-19 death. “He had faith in Donald Trump, he voted for him,” and trusted “that it was O.K. to end social distancing rules before it was safe,” Urquiza said. He went to a karaoke bar in Arizona; and “a few weeks later, he was put on a ventilator,” and died after five days, she said. “His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life.”
10:35 a.m. Virtual concert Inside Lands announces lineup: The free virtual festival Inside Lands, which is replacing the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, the annual summer event in Golden Gate Park, will feature performances by Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, among others, for a mix of archived and new live shows, officials announced Tuesday. The online event will be on Twitch Aug. 28-29, hosted by Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born.
10:26 a.m. SF, San Mateo County report more cases: San Francisco added 81 new cases of the coronavirus, for a total of 8,427 cases confirmed as of Tuesday, and one additional death, for a death toll so far of 70. San Mateo added 78 new cases, bringing its total to date to 7,228 cases. The county also recorded another death, for 127 lives lost so far.
10:15 a.m. Marin County recording lower hospitalization numbers: Marin County has seen some flattening of the coronavirus curve, after its peak on July 12, county health officer Dr. Matt Willis told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The county is seeing a reduction in new cases per day; and hospitalizations — 13 people total, including three from San Quentin — are among the lowest levels in the last two months, he said.
10:10 a.m. Stocks mixed as S&P 500 hits intraday record: The Dow was down slightly and the S&P 500 was up by the middle of the trading day, after the broader S&P index set an intraday record high. Walmart and Home Depot reported earnings buoyed by e-commerce sales and working-from-home renovations, but warned that sales were slowing in the current period.
10:05 a.m. Santa Clara County touts new testing site: Santa Clara County announced it will open a high-capacity coronavirus testing site at the county fairgrounds with potential eventually of conducting 5,000 tests a day. The appointment-only, drive-through site may be used for fall flu shots and future COVID-19 vaccine shots. Appointments will also be taken for bike and pedestrian traffic as well.
9:55 a.m. Can the Mission’s free fridge avoid ‘poverty porn’? On the Extra Spicy podcast, activists Gabriela Alemán and Ashley Rahimi Syed talk about protecting the dignity of people they’re serving by helping to maintain a public refrigerator stocked with free food. Alemán talks about mitigating the “performative” aspect of some giving and the class issues that arise when volunteers find themselves thanking gentrifiers for donating milk, when the gentrifiers may have caused the conditions creating the need for a free fridge — for Click here to listen.
9:47 a.m. Stocks mostly up: Stock indexes were drifting mostly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, and the S&P 500 once again was bouncing against its record closing level. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% at 3,388.84 in midday trading. Earlier, it briefly rose above its record closing high of 3,386.15, which was set in February before the pandemic pancaked the economy.
9:36 a.m. San Mateo gaming company soars during pandemic: Among businesses emerging victorious during the pandemic is 14-year-old Roblox — an online gaming site and app with Lego-like characters that was already popular but has become wildly so with folks staying home. Since February, Roblox active players have increased about 35 percent to reach 164 million in July, according to RTrack. About three quarters of American children ages 9 to 12 are on the platform, Roblox says.
9:12 a.m. Cuomo pens book on coronavirus experiences: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has gained a national following through his management of the coronavirus pandemic, is writing a book about it. Crown announced Tuesday that Cuomo’s “American Crisis” will be released Oct. 13, three weeks before Election Day. The news comes a day after Cuomo’s Democratic National Convention speech calling virus’ spread a metaphor for a country weakened by division.
9:05 a.m. WHO says don’t bank on herd immunity: The World Health Organization says the planet is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed for herd immunity, where enough of the population would have antibodies to stop the spread. Herd immunity is typically achieved with vaccination and most scientists estimate at least 70% of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak. WHO’s emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan on Tuesday said we should not live “in hope” of achieving herd immunity.
8:57 a.m. Crazy weather should be no surprise: The searing heat and humidity, rain, thunder and lightning thrashing California could be the beginning of the end of the region’s dry Mediterranean climate and a prelude of what’s to come, scientists said Monday. The strange and, in many ways, unprecedented weather fits in with the pattern climate scientists have been predicting for 30 years if nothing were done to stop carbon emissions. Read The Chronicle’s story by Peter Fimrite.
8:34 a.m. Bike shortage as world’s biggest producer struggles to keep up: Bicycle sales are soaring around the world as the pandemic curtails indoor workouts and creates reticence for public transit; the result is an international bike shortage. The world’s largest bike maker, Giant, expects its supplies to remain tight, the New York Times reports. Its Taiwan manufacturing is under strain and increased production in China is laden with costs of new U.S. tariffs.
8:18 a.m. Mnuchin says Dems won’t deal: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday criticized top Democrats for what he categorized as stubborn tactics and refusal to discuss any “reasonable deal” to provide relief to American consumers and businesses afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He offered little optimism though Wall Street had hoped Mnuchin would support reports that Senate Republicans planned a “skinny,” $1 trillion relief bill in an bid to ease the stalemate, CNBC reports.
8:06 a.m. States cool to Trump’s stripped-down benefits plan: President Donald Trump’s plan to offer stripped-down unemployment benefits to millions of Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak has found little traction among the states, which would have to pay a quarter of the cost to deliver the maximum benefit. An Associated Press survey finds that as of Monday, 18 states have said they will take the federal grants allowing them to increase unemployment checks by $300 or $400 a week. Thirty are considering it or have not said what they’ll do. Two have said no. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state can’t afford to come up with the $100 match to the federal government’s $300, and that it’s not enough, but he wouldn’t “look a gift horse in the mouth.”
7:49 a.m. Michelle Obama hurls Trump’s words back at him: In a Democratic convention speech laced with implied and overt references to the coronavirus pandemic, former first lady Michelle Obama said President Trump “cannot meet this moment” to lead a nation engulfed in political unrest, a pandemic and a dismal economy. “He is clearly in over his head,” she said. She added a phrase that earned Trump wide criticism for lack of empathy when he used it about the U.S. COVID-19 death toll: “It is what it is,” Obama said.
7:33 a.m. COVID-19 strike teams being used for nursing homes: A handful of states are using COVID-19 “strike teams” in an response model traditionally used in natural disasters to combat deadly coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities, the New York Times reports. Composed of about eight to 10 emergency management personnel from government agencies, business, nonprofits the teams bring resources and personnel to help. States that have employed the model include North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
7:25 a.m. Trump continues drumbeat against mail-in ballots: President Trump on Tuesday continued his efforts to undermine the validity of voting by mail, despite the pandemic. He raised the prospect of having to redo the presidential election if states widely embrace universal mail-in balloting — which polls have shown Democrats are more inclined toward than Republicans. “Universal is going to be a disaster, the likes of which our country has never seen,” he said at a White House event. “It will end up being a rigged election or they will never come out with an outcome. They’ll have to do it again, and nobody wants that, and I don’t want that.”
6:47 a.m. SF’s housing market is weakening as some suburbs see ‘crazy heated insanity’: The coronavirus continued reshaping the Bay Area housing market last month, as demand for homes was weakest in San Francisco — especially for downtown high-rise condos — and strongest in the North Bay as buyers untethered to an office sought more space. Read the full story by Kathleen Pender.
6:28 a.m. Best new takeout dishes in San Francisco, Bay Area: Even during the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted so many lives, new restaurants are opening. Here are some of Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho’s favorite new places to get takeout.
6:16 a.m. SF schools open virtually, amid hopes after a shaky spring: Many students in San Francisco and other districts across the state received little live instruction in the spring after schools closed, and parents voiced concerns that the fall would be no different. So what has changed? Read the full story by Jill Tucker.
Updates from Monday, Aug. 17:
5:23 p.m. Most San Francisco Gap stores close: Three Gap stores, including the flagship on Market Street, are the latest victims of the pandemic. Only the Chestnut Street location remains open. Read this exclusive story from The Chronicle’s Shwanika Narayan.
3:30 p.m. Weather prompts closure of SF testing sites: All outdoor San Francisco coronavirus testing sites will close for walk-up testing for the remainder of Monday due to risk of lightning strikes, officials announced. Sites will remain open for drive-through appointments. The walk-in closure affects sites at Seventh Street and the Excelsior mobile pop-up, and testing at the Castro/Mission, Potrero Hill and Southeast health clinics and Maxine Hall. Regular schedules are expected to resume Tuesday.
3:23 p.m. Senators aim for action from postal board: Top Senate Democrats have set their sights on the little-known board that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, urging it to undo the postmaster general’s controversial policies out of concern they have “endangered” Americans, the Washington Post reports. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Chuck Schumer of New York and five others on Monday urged the Postal Service’s Board of Governors to cancel Louis DeJoy’s recent policies — including a crackdown on overtime — that postal workers say are causing slowdowns, even before the onslaught of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus.
3:19 p.m. Santa Clara County reports more cases: Santa Clara County reported 207 more coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing its confirmed case count so far to 14,636. The county’s death toll remained at 209.
3:15 p.m. McConnell says Postal Service will be fine: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back Monday on concerns that the Postal Service won’t be able to handle as many as 80 million mail-in ballots come November. The New York Times reports he told reporters in his home state of Kentucky “the Postal Service is going to be just fine” and that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has signaled a willingness to spend more on it.
3:11 p.m. Postmaster general will testify on adequacy of pandemic preparations: With the Postal Service and the Trump administration under fire for mail delays that threaten to compromise a pandemic-era election in which millions of people plan to vote by mail, officials announced Monday that the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, would testify before a House oversight committee next week.
3:05 p.m. UNC reverses course, moves classes online after outbreaks: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the largest schools in the country to bring students to campus for in-person teaching, said Monday it will pivot to all-remote instruction for undergraduates after rapid coronavirus spread. The change comes just a week after classes began. Officials said 177 students were infected and another 349 were in quarantine, on and off campus, because of possible exposure.
3 p.m. Trump and Postal Service are sued over insufficient spending: Several individuals including political candidates sued President Donald Trump and the U.S. Postal Service and its new postmaster general in New York on Monday to ensure adequate funding for postal operations as people vote by mail during the pandemic. The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court as multiple lawsuits were threatened across the country over cuts and changes to post offices nationwide. The suit alles Trump and his postmaster general want to ensure election mail can’t be reliably delivered.
2:55 p.m. Rolling blackouts could hit 3.3 million homes by Tuesday: The head of California’s primary electric grid manager warned that more rolling blackouts, possibly for millions of people, were likely Monday and Tuesday due to power shortages during the extreme heat. Steve Berberich, CEO of the California Independent System Operator, made the comments during a meeting of the organization’s governing board.
2:48 p.m. SF celebrated dim sum restaurant to close: Ton Kiang, a dim sum parlor and Hakka-style banquet hall that has been in San Francisco since the late ’70s, will close permanently on Aug. 30. Owner Richard Wong tells The Chronicle that he was already thinking about retiring and the pandemic “just speed things up.”
2:44 p.m. Federal judge upholds Louisiana bar closure: A federal judge in New Orleans refused Monday to block a state order closing bars to stop the spread of COVID-19, handing a defeat to 10 southeast Louisiana bar owners who had sued to stop the closure. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said the closure order was legal under the broad powers a governor has under emergencies such as a pandemic.
2:40 p.m. Trump wanted to cut off help for Californians who lost homes to fires: President Trump ordered FEMA to cut off aid for California wildfire victims because the state was “not part of his political base,” according to a former high-ranking government staffer, though FEMA did ultimately provide the aid. Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, made the allegation in an online ad in which he endorsed Democratic nominee-to-be Joe Biden for president. Read the story here.
2:28 p.m. SF restaurant ordered to take down pandemic domes: The San Francisco restaurant that made headlines for its $200-per-person meals inside geodesic domes received a visit last week from a Department of Public Health officer, who ordered the restaurant to take the domes down. Japanese fine dining spot Hashiri was found to have insufficient ventilation in the domes, according to manager Kenichiro Matsuura. The restaurant reopened for dinner Friday without the plastic coverings on the domes, meaning they don’t block the weather or unwanted visitors, including local homeless people, as originally intended.
2:20 p.m. Contra Costa, San Mateo case counts rise: Contra Costa County reported another 180 cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing the county’s total infections to date to 11,408, one of the highest totals in the Bay Area. San Mateo County added 38 cases, bringing its cumulative total to 7,150.
2:11 p.m. U.S. home builder confidence up: Confidence by U.S. home builders rose for a third straight month in August to match its highest level ever as record-low interest rates spur a surge in buyer traffic. Data released on Monday was the latest indication the housing market is standing out as a rare bright spot in the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
1:55 p.m. Court may force release of vulnerable San Quentin inmates: A state appeals court says it may order San Quentin state prison to grant supervised release to hundreds of aging or medically vulnerable inmates as the coronavirus sweeps through the prison. After state lawyers rejected settlement talks on releases, a panel of the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ordered prison officials Friday to justify any further refusal to remove those with heightened risk of COVID-19. Read the story here.
1:13 p.m. California activating its county coronavirus watch list again: After clearing a backlog of nearly 300,000 uncounted coronavirus test results, California health officials have updated the counts statewide and are again monitoring counties’ progress toward benchmarks that will enable reopening activities. Most counties — 42 of 58 — are currently on the watch list. They must meet specific goalposts on transmission, hospitalization and capacity rates to be cleared for moving ahead on reopening.
1:09 p.m. Tech stocks have good day: Nasdaq shares jumped 1% Monday while other indexes were calmer. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.3%, the S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Russell 2000 went up 0.5%.
12:50 p.m. Santa Cruz is coming off state watch list: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that Santa Cruz County has made sufficient progress on its coronavirus statistics to come off the state’s monitoring list, and San Diego County is expected to be removed from the list Tuesday. In all, the list includes 42 of the state’s 58 counties that the state is monitoring for case numbers, hospitalizations and other markers of progress, as of Monday, he said.
12:45 p.m. Newsom implores Californians to limit peak-hours energy use: California’s energy shortfall will be even greater with Monday’s soaring temperatures, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, and utility customers should limit usage from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., including by setting air conditioning set at 78 or above. Newsom said the state’s energy supply has been limited by the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and the state must evaluate its reliance on solar power. He reiterated his call for an immediate investigation into the electric grid’s failure. “I am not pleased with what’s happened,” Newsom said. “We’ll get to the bottom of it.”
12:35 p.m. Governor says state virus numbers trending in right direction: Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that with a data backlog of 295,000 coronavirus test results cleared, 14,861 positive cases were added to state totals in the past several days, and, with that, COVID-19 is trending downward in the state. The rate of positive cases was 6.5% over 14 days, with the backlogged numbers included, and hospitalizations saw a 21% decline, he said.
12:29 p.m. Newsom critical of rolling blackouts: Newsom reiterated his criticism Monday of the California Independent System Operator, the state’s primary electric grid manager, over rolling blackouts that potentially impacted millions of customers. Newsom said the state will use stored energy to mitigate the blackouts in coming days. He said utility customers weren’t given enough warning about the planned shutoffs during an extreme heat wave. “We failed to predict and plan these shortages and that’s simply unacceptable,” he said.
12:25 p.m. Newsom says heat has put ‘enormous pressure’ on firefighters: Gov. Gavin Newsom said a heat wave and extreme weather across California has “put an enormous amount of pressure” on firefighters as the state battles 15 fires. The governor, however, told a briefing the state is confident it will be able to tackle most of those first in the near future. He said some large fires, such as the River Fire near Monterey, could take longer to contain.
12:17 p.m. UNC reopening sees coronavirus clusters: Clusters of coronavirus cases have popped up in three residence halls and a fraternity house at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the week since the fall term began, sending students into isolation and quarantine rooms. One influential administrator, the UNC-Chapel Hill dean of public health, called for a change in approach because she said the in-person method is not working.
11:59 a.m. Haphazard distribution of millions of face masks: Hundreds of millions of cloth face masks shipped by the Trump administration to U.S. agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private companies appear to have been allocated in a haphazard fashion, and in some cases far exceeded the need, a review of a government document by the news organization STAT found. A charter school with roughly 140 students in Florida, for instance, received 37,500 masks.
11:39 a.m. Newsom says power blackout situation ‘cannot stand’: Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for an investigation into the electric grid’s failure to provide reliable power as rolling blackouts accompany the heatwave and PG&E indicates it will order more as demand increases with heat. Declaring a heatwave state of emergency, Newsom wrote, “These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state. ” He added, “Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians. This cannot stand.”
11:19 a.m. PPE shortages predicted for future: Shortages of personal protective equipment and medical supplies could persist for years without strategic government intervention, officials from health care and manufacturing industries are predicting, the Guardian reports. The California Hospital Association’s CEO, Carmela Coyle, anticipates coronavirus-related supply challenges through 2022. Although the disarray is not as widespread as it was this spring, hospitals citedrolling shortages of supplies range from specialized beds to disposable isolation gowns to thermometers.
10:47 a.m. Louisiana official wants most balloting in person: Lousiana’s elections chief Monday proposed a scaled-back emergency plan for this fall’s elections that would modestly expand early voting amid the coronavirus outbreak, but still require most people to cast their ballots in person. The secretary of state’s proposal recommends a much more limited adjustment in voting rules for the Nov. 3 presidential election and a Dec. 5 election than the emergency plan used for Louisiana’s summer elections.
10:41 a.m. Actress blames non-maskers for sister’s COVID-19: Actress Sharon Stone took to Instagram to share her sister’s experience with Covid-19, and she said people who don’t wear masks are to blame. “One of you Non-Mask wearers did this,” Stone said.
10:30 a.m. Doctors battle virus falsehoods: Doctors on the pandemic front lines say they are fighting an unprecedented scourge of misinformation about the coronavirus: It hurts patients, with many more inclined to believe social media than what a medical professional tells them. The volume of patients who believe stories about fake cures and other falsehoods is like nothing they’ve seen before, doctors and misinformation researchers in told the New York Times. They blamed leaders like President Trump for touting fringe theories, social media companies for not stamping out fake stories, and people for being quick to believe online information.
10:20 a.m. California’s top election official vouches for mail-in ballot integrity: California voters will not be forced into “choosing between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health and that of their loved ones,” during the pandemic, Secretary of State Alex Padilla says, because the state’s vote-by-mail is secure and efficient. In a full-throated defense of the state’s plan to send each voter a mail-in ballot, Padilla in an opinion piece for The Chronicle, said “misinformation is circulating about the integrity” of voting by mail.” He wrote: “Vote-by-mail is proven, secure, and the safest option for voters this year.”
10:12 a.m. New Zealand elections postponed: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed New Zealand’s elections by four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland. The election scheduled for Sept. 19 now will be on Oct. 17. Opposition parties had sought a delay after the outbreak prompted a two-week lockdown order and halted election campaigning in Auckland.
9:47 a.m. French riot police to enforce mask order: The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more towns and neighborhoodsimpose mask rules starting Monday to slow rising infections. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said 130 police officers are being sent to the Marseille region, which expanded its outdoor mask requirements to farmers’ markets and more neighborhoods Friday. France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks.
9:14 a.m. States slow to spend pandemic funds: Congress has set aside trillions of dollars to ease the coronavirus crisis, but a joint Kaiser Health News and Associated Press investigation finds that many communities with big outbreaks have spent little for public health department work such as testing and contact tracing, while some states were slow to do so. States, territories and 154 large cities and counties that received allotments reported spending only 25% of it through June 30. Republicans in Congress point to the slow spending to argue against more relief for state and local governments as the nation’s death toll tops 170,000.
8:57 a.m. LA schools testing everyone for virus: In what appears to be the most ambitious coronavirus testing initiative in a major U.S. school district, the nation’s second-largest — Los Angeles Unified — on Monday was beginning a sweeping program to test hundreds of thousands of students and teachers as students go back to school online. The program, which will be rolled out over the next few months will test nearly 700,000 students and 75,000 employees as the district awaits permission from public health authorities to resume in-person instruction.
8:47 a.m. Wall Street points to modest gains: Stocks were mostly higher Monday morning, and the S&P 500 briefly rose above its February record. The index gained 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.7%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged, however, falling 100 points, or about 0.4%. Shares of Facebook, Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft all rose at least 0.1%.
8:20 a.m. Moms falling out of the workforce: With school starting remotely, working parents are having to juggle jobs and distance learning. Data and real-life stories show mothers are bearing the brunt of the extra work. On the Fifth & Mission podcast, reporter Mallory Moench talks about the major reduction of women in the workforce as moms are finding something has to give. Click here to listen.
8:08 a.m. Many kids locked out of school due to lack of internet: A stunning number of young people are locked out of virtual classes due to lack of high-speed internet at home. In 2018, nearly 17 million children had no high-speed internet, and more than 7 million did not have computers at home, according to a report by civil rights and education groups. Black, Latino and Native American households, as well as southern households, are disproportionately affected. In Mississippi and Arkansas, about 40 percent of students lacked high-speed Internet.
7:59 a.m. Dems gather remotely to pick Biden: The Democratic Party begins a unique convention in Milwaukee on Monday without an actual gathering. Democrats will deliver all four nights of speeches from remote locations because of the coronavirus pandemic. With COVID-19 underscoring medical inequities in the U.S., progressives are pushing the party to adopt a platform supporting Medicare for All. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
7:47 a.m. Startup smash-up never happened: When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, many technology start-ups braced themselves for burial as business dried up, venture capitalists warned of dark times ahead and experts predicted the beginning of the end of a decade-long boom. Five months later, those doomsday warnings have not translated into the drastic shakeout that many had expected, the New York Times reports.
7:30 a.m. US death toll tops 170,000: The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 170,000, with lives lost to date numbering 170,065 as of Monday morning. Case counts continued to rise in California and many other states, and totalled more than 5.4 million across the country since the start of the pandemic.
7:22 a.m. Pelosi calls House back to deal with Post Office crisis during pandemic: Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is calling the House back into session over the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service, setting up a political showdown amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency ahead of the election. The move comes amid expectations of an avalanche of voting by mail as people seek to avoid polling places to avoid potential coronavirus infection.
7:10 a.m. Crazy weather patterns steal limelight from virus: Focus on the pandemic got some competition as a new round of unusual storms moved through San Francisco and into the North Bay Monday morning, producing lightning and reports of thunder following an intense electrical storms Sunday, along with Death Valley temperatuares that skyrocketed to a blistering 130 degrees — possibly the highest mercury reading on Earth since 1913. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
6:37 a.m. Pandemic forces Bay Area mothers to choose kids over career: As schools start remotely across the Bay Area, working parents are under inordinate pressure. Although some dads have stepped up to care more for kids, mothers are disproportionately bearing the responsibility for child care, and their careers are more likely to suffer collateral damage in the pandemic economy, experts say. Read the full story by Mallory Moench.
6:15 a.m. How do we fix coronavirus testing? Policy, technology and behavior must intersect: What needs to be done to prevent future testing backlogs in the event of another surge? The Chronicle sought input from local health officials and laboratory directors on what it would take to improve testing for the long haul. They zeroed in on a mix of policy, technology and human behavior. Read the full story by Catherine Ho.