Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Sept. 10-11
The Chronicle began covering the coronavirus crisis before the first cases were reported in the Bay Area and a pandemic was declared in 2020. 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 updates from Sept. 8-9
Read the next updates from Sept. 12-13
Read the full timeline:
Updates from Friday, Sept. 11
3:17 p.m. ‘You can’t even rely on the color of the sky any more’: In a year with catastrophe upon disaster upon crisis, the stress is starting to add up after eight months of it, mental health experts say. San Francisco psychiatrist Scott Lauze say’s he’s doing “a tremendous amount of hand-holding” and hears the word “apocalyptic” a lot: “You can’t even rely on the color of the sky any more.” Read the story here.
2:59 p.m. College campuses follow path of meatpacking plants and nursing homes: As coronavirus outbreaks emerge at colleges and universities across the country, a New York Times survey found that in just the past week, campuses have recorded more than 36,000 additional coronavirus cases, for a total of 88,000 infections since the pandemic began. Not all the cases were new, with some a result of more schools reporting results of increased coronavirus testing. But The Times survey of 1,600 institutions also shows how widely the contagion has spread on every type of campus.
2:51 p.m. Dems investigate Trump administration PR contract on virus: Senior House Democrats have launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s awarding of a $250 million communications contract to help “defeat despair and inspire hope” over the coronavirus pandemic, as they questioned the political motivations behind the taxpayer-funded messaging campaign, Politico reports. The lawmakers seek a halt to the contract while it’s under investigation, according to a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that was shared with Politico.
2:46 p.m. Some Louisiana bars can open: Bars in a handful of Louisiana parishes will be allowed to re-open under new, looser coronavirus restrictions announced Friday by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Bars in parishes where the percentage of positive COVID-19 deaths is 5% or below for four weeks can open if parish leaders give the OK, Edwards said.
2:41 p.m. Cases surge in East Europe: The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases spiked Friday in parts of eastern Europe, with Hungary and the Czech Republic registering all-time daily highs. Signs of the pandemic’s resurgence were also evident in Britain and the Netherlands.
2:38 p.m. Kids spread virus at home after camp: Children who caught the coronavirus at day cares and a day camp spread it to their relatives, according to a new report that underscores that kids can bring the germ home and infect others. Scientists already know children can spread the virus. But the study published Friday by the CDC “definitively indicates — in a way that previous studies have struggled to do — the potential for transmission to family members,” a Harvard researcher said.
2:29 p.m. SF music store reopening: Amoeba Music plans to reopen its San Francisco store on Sept. 17, when shoppers can browse for records at its Haight Street location for the first time since the city went into lockdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
2:24 p.m. Fauci says don’t expect normalcy before end of 2021: People should not expect a return to normal life — like forgoing masks and social distancing — until late next year, assuming a vaccine with 70-75% effectiveness is found and administered to the public, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Friday. Getting a vaccine does not mean it will be “like turning a switch off,” he said in a CNN interview. “It’s going to be gradual.” He said he’d be surprised if a vaccine had more than 75% effectiveness, meaning “You still have to have a component of public health measures.” Only with “a very, very low level” of infection, he said, “then we can start talking about normalcy.”
1:58 p.m. Poor air quality forces closure of East Palo Alto test site: Coronavirus testing by Verily in East Palo Alto has been cancelled today due to unsafe air quality, officials said. Those with appointments should reschedule. Information is here.
1:22 p.m. Tech workers leaving Bay Area may have to take pay cuts: VMware Inc. employees who take up the company’s offer to permanently work remotely get a pay cut if they move from pricey Silicon Valley to a less-expensive city, an 18% salary reduction in Denver, for example, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. Other companies may do the same. Facebook has publicly said it may cut employees’ salaries depending on where they choose to move.
1:14 p.m. Sacramento passes 20,000 cases, Bay Area counties see uptick: Alameda County reported another 108 coronavirus cases, bringing its total as of Friday to 19,819 cases. Contra Costa added 92 cases for at total of 15,058 to date. Sacramento surpassed 20,000 cases as of Friday, and Contra Costa county topped 15,000 cases in all as the virus continued its relentless march.
1:06 p.m. Stocks have wobbly day: The Dow Jones industrial average went up about 0.5% in a mostly mediocre day for stocks Friday. The S&P 500 was essentially flat, while the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 both fell about 0.6%.
1:01 p.m. Cal State University goes to virtual classes for 2021: The California State University system will continue its pandemic-era instruction of primarily virtual classes for the term beginning in January, the system’s chancellor, Timothy White, announced Friday in a letter to students, faculty and staff. It will also continue with reduced populations in campus housing.
11:59 a.m. CDC links restaurant dining to higher infection rate : Adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control found. “Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors,” for infection, the CDC said. “Efforts to reduce possible exposures where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking, should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”
11:54 a.m. When virus rules and wildfire smoke collide: San Francisco does not yet allow indoor dining, but the city has no plans to order outdoor dining halted, despite the city’s advice that residents should remain inside to protect their health during air quality ratings of very unhealthy, Dr. Naveena Bobba, deputy director for the Department of Public Health, said at a Friday briefing.
11:13 a.m. SF, San Mateo County cases continue climb: San Francisco confirmed another 68 coronavirus cases for a cumulative total 10,688 as of Friday. San Mateo County reported another 71 cases, bringing its total to date to 8,966 cases.
10:28 a.m. Fauci disputes Trump’s rounding-the-corner remark: Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday he does not concur with President Trump’s comment Thursday that the nation is “coming around the corner” on quelling the coronavirus. “I’m sorry but I have to disagree with that,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said in an MSNBC interview. Fauci said statistics are “disturbing”: “We are plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000,” a worrisome baseline going into fall season when people spend more time indoors, he said. “You don’t want to start off already with a baseline that’s so high.”
10:12 a.m. New data linking pollution to coronavirus death: A new study published Friday is the latest linking pollution exposure to a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus. The study published by IOP found that an increase in the concentration of multiple hazardous air pollutants was associated with a 9% increase in COVID-19 mortality. The study also linked diesel exhaust, soot and smog individually to increased coronavirus mortality rates.
10:03 a.m. Sweden hits lowest positive rate: Sweden has registered its lowest rate of positive coronavirus tests yet even after its testing regime was expanded to record levels in what one health official said was a vindication of its relatively non-intrusive COVID-19 strategy, the Times reports. Over the past week the country carried out more than 120,000 tests, of which only 1.3 per cent identified the disease. At the height of the pandemic the proportion was 19 per cent.
9:45 a.m. Fall holds threat of uptick in deaths: The number of daily U.S. deaths from the coronavirus is declining again after peaking in early August, but scientists warn that a new bout with the disease this fall could claim more lives. The arrival of cooler weather and the likelihood of more indoor gatherings will add to the importance of everyday safety precautions, experts say. And a dozen states are bucking the national downward trend in daily deaths, among them Iowa, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kansas.
9:17 a.m. On Orange Wednesday, “The world didn’t end”: Mary Ellen Carroll on the Fifth & Mission podcast advises Bay Area residents to remember just that and remain in the moment when facing disasters — whether the coronavirus, wildfires or economic distress. As the director of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management, she knows a thing or two about handling crisis and chaos. Click here to listen to what she has to say about coping, and what adults should tell kids about all the doom and gloom.
9:09 a.m. Memorial events on 9-11 are different this year: Americans commemorated 9/11 on Friday as a new national crisis — the coronavirus pandemic — reconfigured anniversary ceremonies. In New York, victims’ relatives gathered for split-screen remembrances, one at the World Trade Center memorial plaza, and another on a nearby corner by a separate organization after the memorial decided to forgo traditional reading of names of the dead by relatives. Memorial leaders said the change was a coronavirus-safety precaution.
8:51 a.m. Monterey Jazz announces lineup for digital concert: Seven new musical performances by renowned jazz artists, live-streamed conversations with Angela Davis and Clint Eastwood, plus socially distanced watch parties are on deck for the 63rd annual Monterey Jazz Festival this year when it goes digital Sept. 25-27. Read the details here.
8:36 a.m. San Quentin inmate’s family sues over COVID-19 death: The family of a San Quentin inmate who contracted the coronavirus has filed the first death claim against the California correctional system related to the pandemic, citing the botched transfer of infected prisoners as the cause of his death, the Los Angeles Times reports. Daniel Ruiz is among those who fell to the virus outbreak that followed the transfer of prisoners into San Quentin from a Chino prison.
8:04 a.m. Global toll surpasses 910,000: COVID-19 now has taken more than 910,000 lives around the world, according to tracking by researchers at Johns Hopkins University as of Friday. In the United States, more than 191,000 have lost their lives, and in California the death toll stood at 14,095 as of Friday morning.
7:58 a.m. IRS wants to hand out money: The IRS is looking for you if you have not yet collected a pandemic stimulus check you are owed. An estimated 9 million people still haven’t done so. The IRS announced it is mailing out letters to millions of people who have not yet gone online to see if they’re eligible for a stimulus payment under the $2 trillion Cares Act, the Washington Post reports — and with Congress stalemated on a new package, this may be their only chance for pandemic relief.
7:45 a.m. Pandemic takes harsh toll on mental health of young Americans: Adults under 35 during the pandemic are especially likely to report negative feelings or experience physical or emotional symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, a new poll finds. A majority of Americans ages 18 through 34 — 56% — say they have at least sometimes felt isolated in the past month, compared with about 4 in 10 older Americans, the new COVID tracking study by NORC at the University of Chicago finds. Fifty-six percent of older adults say their mental health is excellent or very good, compared with just 39% of young adults.
6:51 a.m. Stocks attempt another rally: Shares rose Friday morning, with the Dow and Nasdaq up modestly. Economists worried about the sturdiness of the recovery in the face of fading stimulus funding and continued high unemployment claims.
Updates from Thursday, Sept. 10:
5:20 p.m.: San Francisco to open indoor hair and nail salons, gyms, and hotels next week: The businesses, along with massage parlors, tattoo and piercing services, and outdoor family entertainment and tours, can reopen with limited capacity on Sept. 14. They have been shuttered since March 17 shelter in place orders went into effect. Read more here.
3:26 p.m. Dems, GOP deeply divided on virus policy, aid: Deep political divisions over responses to the coronavirus pandemic were on display Thursday when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told a congressional committee that New Mexico needed further federal recovery aid. Prominent state Republicans advocated for fewer restraints on returning to work and school in efforts to reignite the economy.
3:14 p.m. Government will halt airport coronavirus screening of international travelers at airports: Underscoring that coronavirus transmission can come from people without symptoms, the CDC says that beginning Monday, the government will no longer require flights from China and other specified countries to land at one of 15 designated airports and will halt enhanced entry health screening for these passengers. “Screening has limited effectiveness because people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or fever at the time of screening, or only mild symptoms. Transmission of the virus may occur from passengers who have no symptoms or who have not yet developed symptoms of infection,” CDC said in its statement Wednesday.
3:10 p.m. New study challenges notion that young people are impervious: A research letter from Harvard found that among 3,222 young adults hospitalized with COVID-19, about 2.7%, 88 patients, died. One in five required intensive care, and one in 10 needed a ventilator to assist with breathing. The study “establishes that COVID-19 is a life-threatening disease in people of all ages,” wrote Dr. Mitchell Katz, a deputy editor at JAMA Internal Medicine.
3:03 p.m. Placer County health officer resigns after officials declare ‘end of local COVID-19 health emergency’: Dr. Aimee Sisson resigned as Placer County health officer, effective Sept. 25, after county supervisors unanimnously declared the county’s local health emergency ended. She said in a Sept. 8 memo that supervisors’ action “made it clear that I can no longer effectively serve in my role.” Sisson said she was grateful for the privilege “of protecting and promoting the health of Placer County’s 400,000 residents.” County Executive Officer Todd Leopold said in a statement that her leadership in response to the pandemic positioned the county “to continue safely reopening our economy while still taking necessary precautions.”
2:21 p.m. California surpasses 14,000 deaths: Alameda County confirmed another 115 cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total to 19,711 cases as of Thursday. Contra Costa County reported another 81 cases, for a total of 14,966 to date. California’s COVID-19 death toll topped 14,000, standing at 14,020 as of Thursday afternoon.
2:13 p.m. JPMorgan’s San Francisco healthcare conference goes virtual in 2021: The healthcare industry’s biggest annual conference, which normally draws 9,000 to the Union Square area, will be held online on Jan. 11 to 14, 2021, JPMorgan confirmed. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the bank had planned to return to San Francisco despite long-standing complaints around high costs and homelessness in the area.
2:05 p.m. CDC says nation’s death toll could reach 217,000 by early October: The Centers for Disease Control on Thursday projected based on numerous forecasts that new COVID-19 deaths over next four weeks will bring the nation’s total to 205,000 to 217,000 lives lost by Oct. 3.
1:16 p.m. Stocks have rough day: The Nasdaq plunged 2% Thursday while all the major indexes had their troubles. The S&P 500 fell 1.8%, the Dow Jones industrial average 1.5% and the Russell 2000 1%.
1:07 p.m. Poll offers window on distrust regarding pandemic: The public’s trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, has dropped steeply since April, especially among Republicans, a new poll, from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds. The poll finds nearly half of adults hold at least one misconception about coronavirus prevention and treatment, including one in five who say wearing a face mask is harmful to your health and one in four who say hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for coronavirus. Less than half of those surveyed would want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if a vaccine was available before November, the poll conducted Aug. 28-Sept. 3 found.
12:49 p.m. Stanford medical faculty blast Trump adviser: Nearly 100 faculty of the Stanford School of Medicine signed an open letter this week denouncing Dr. Scott Atlas — a former Stanford professor, and pandemic adviser to President Trump — saying “many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science” which can lead to “immense avoidable harm.” Atlas, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, was professor and chief of neuroradiology from 1998 to 2012. He has no experience in the treatment of infectious diseases. The letter from specialists in areas like epidemiology, health policy and infectious diseases targets Atlas’ approach for reopening schools and the economy. Read the story here.
12:35 p.m. South Dakota motorcycle rally a huge superspreader: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, where Smash Mouth performed for thousands of spectators could be the largest known coronavirus superspreader event in the U.S., a new study found. The 10-day event in August led to more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases and an estimated $12.2 billion in public health costs, said the study published by Germany’s Institute of Labor Economics. Read the story here.
12:24 p.m.. Why those colors?: Dr. Mark Ghaly, state Health and Human Services secretary, said Thursday “it’s a bit early” to tell how well the state’s new color-coded monitoring system is working to guide county reopenings. At a news briefing, he didn’t directly address why specific colors were picked — red being the second worst category, for instance. But he said at a briefing that the new tiers are meant as a more simple and straightforward way to track progress against the virus, “to make sure we went slow and stringent, and that we had rigorous rules” on what counties can do.
12:15 p.m. Global deaths surpass 900,000: The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic stood at 905,624 lives lost as of Thursday midday, tracking from Johns Hopkins University researchers shows.
11:57 a.m. Newsom signs bill extending state workers’ sick pay for COVID-19: Gov. Newsom on Wednesday approved legislation to immediately extend paid sick day protections to the state workforce. The action means that every California employee that has been exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19 will have access to paid sick days for the rest of the 2020 calendar year, state officials said.
11:53 a.m. Florida keeping some school health data secret. One month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — and some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks. Infections among school-age children have jumped 34%. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret, the Washington Post reports.
11:42 a.m. GOP stimulus effort fails to make it out of Senate: Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to advance their substantially scaled-back stimulus plan when Democrats resisted, calling the measure inadequate, underscoring dwindling chances that Congress will enact a new pandemic economic recovery measure before the Nov. 3 elections. Democratic opposition, as expected, denied the 60 votes the measure needed to advance. Republicans held the vote largely in an effort to foist blame on Democrats for the lack of progress on a compromise.
11:12 a.m. Trump’s new counterattack blames Woodward for not reporting sooner: President Trump now contends that if his admission that he publicly downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus — despite knowing how deadly it was — was “so bad or dangerous,” writer Bob Woodward would have reported it sooner. Woodward’s taped interviews with the president are in his new book “Rage,” and the journalist says he needed time to investigate whether things Trump said were true and to provide the story in full context before the November election.
11:03 a.m.Trump campaign pushes in court to block Nevada mail-in ballotis: President Trump’s reelection campaign is urging a federal judge in Las Vegas to block a Nevada law and prevent mail-in ballots from going to all active voters less than eight weeks before the Nov. 3 elections and amid the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign argues that it is hurt by the state law because it forces Republicans to divert resources to “educating Nevada voters on those changes and encouraging them to still vote.”
10:50 a.m. SF measure could help avoid cuts: Mayor London Breed and San Francisco supervisors are aggressively campaigning for a business tax measure, Proposition F, that they say is critical to keeping the city’s delicate $13.1 billion budget intact. The city faces a $1.5 billion deficit, largely caused by the pandemic. If voters shoot down the massive business tax overhaul, the city will need to find $100 million this current fiscal year and $200 million next year, and that means likely layoffs and service cuts. Read the story here.
10:38 a.m. Alameda County cracks down on pop-up health violations: Pandemic-born, runaway hit Broke Ass Cooks just became yet another pop-up restaurant to be shut down by Alameda County health inspectors, according to its founders. The move indicates that the county is beginning to crack down on the growing number of food businesses operating in legal gray areas during the pandemic. Read the story here.
10:30 a.m. California inches toward 750,000 cases: San Francisco confirmed another 46 cases of the coronavirus, for a cumulative total of 10,120 cases as of Thursday. San Mateo County reported another 88 cases, bringing its overall total to 8,895 cases. Statewide, coronavirus cases to date stood at 747,969 as of Thursday morning.
10:19 a.m. Oakland hospital did not isolate COVID-19 patients, report says: COVID-19 patients at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center were scattered through the Oakland hospital, in a lapse that’s persisted elsewhere, despite CDC guidelines that hospitals isolate COVID-19 patients to limit staff exposure and conserve protective gear, Kaiser Health News reports. A KHN investigation found that dozens of nursing homes and hospitals nationwide ignored the guidelines, in some places fueling coronavirus spread and leaving staff unprepared and infected or, in some cases, dead.
10:10 a.m. NY student arrested after insisting on attending school every day: A Long Island high school student was suspended this week after he attended classes in person on his designated remote learning day, and later arrested after he continued to show up in protest despite being told to stay home. Maverick Stow, 17, told school officials that he believed he should attend in person for five days a week, according to a statement from the school district.
9:46 a.m. Voters unswayed by Trump admission he downplayed deadly nature of virus: Most voters in battleground states didn’t need to hear Trump’s duplicity — on tape — to make up their minds about his handling of the pandemic, The Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli writes. Trump’s admission that he knew the virus was deadly but told the public the opposite doesn’t change minds made up months ago — and that’s why Trump trails in most battleground states.
9:24 a.m. Administration lags on N95 needs: Despite White House statements that hospitals have all the medical supplies needed to battle the coronavirus, shortages still are widely reported, including for critical N95 face masks. The Associated Press has found the Trump administration took months to sign contracts with companies that make a crucial component inside N95s: meltblown textile, which ensures blocking of viruses. Manufacturers say the administration still hasn’t made investments needed to ramp up to full capacity. Meanwhile, the administration allowed meltblown exports to slip out of the country as domestic mask demand soared.
9:04 a.m. Virus on minds, people want to vote early: About six in 10 registered voters nationwide say they want to cast their ballots before Election Day, a significant departure from previous years, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted by Ipsos. Fear of the coronavirus and doubts about the reliability of mail voting after months of attacks from President Trump are weighing heavily on Americans as they decide how to safely ensure their vote will be counted, according to the survey. In 2016, about 4 in 10 ballots were cast early.
8:53 a.m. SF State plans layoffs: San Francisco State University has told 131 staff members they were to be laid off Nov. 9 because of a funding shortfall. The COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to enrollment and budget challenges, led to the layoffs, school President Lynn Mahoney said in an email. No faculty members were laid off. Read the story here.
8:23 a.m. Giroir says home test is ‘very close’: Adm. Brett Giroir, testing czar on the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday that “we’re very close to getting home tests that are very accurate” for the coronavirus. “Don’t expect it in the next month or two,” he added in a CNN interview. But he said it would be soon as the technology comes to fruition. Giroir also said testing of asymptomatic people is needed, attempting to clarify earlier CDC guidance that seemed to indicate the opposite.
8:09 a.m. Pandemic traps ship crews onboard: When the coronavirus outbreaks closed borders, seafarers on ships around the world suddenly had no way home. Half a year later, there’s no solution in sight, the New York Times reports. Stuck in a floating world, some crew members have begun refusing to work, forcing ships to stay in port.
8:06 a.m. UN asks nations for money for faster vaccine: The Secretary-General of the United Nations is appealing to donor countries and others to pitch in $35 billion for a World Health Organization-led initiative that aims to speed the research and development of tests, treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.
7:49 a.m. What’s happening where with school reopenings: In the confusing path to getting schools reopened in the Bay Area, the state allows some elementary schools to request waivers to hold in-person classes under strict safety protocols. County health officers approve waivers in consultation with state health officials. Schools must consult with parents, labor unions and community groups, and publish a reopening plan online. Read the details on where each Bay Area county stands on schools here.
7:05 a.m. Haphazard testing approach as few schools open for in-person class: Only 1% of the Bay Areas school kids are getting in-person instruction at this point, but all schools in California will be required to come up with a coronavirus testing plan to do so. It remains unclear who will administer tests, how often they occur, who gets tested and how schools will pay for them, pointing to the haphazard, catch-as-catch-can way that schools and districts are largely on their own in figuring it out. Read the story here.
6:38 a.m. Stocks continue rebound: After a days-long sell-off, shares rose Thursday as investors who had parked cash during the pandemic dipped back in to the market, seeking opportunities.
5:53 a.m. Jobless claims unchanged: The number of Americans filing for unemployment stayed steady last week. Californians continued to account for an outsized portion of the newly jobless, and gig workers in the Golden State made up more than half of those filing claims in the most recent period.