Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Sept. 14-15
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. 12-13
Read the full timeline:
Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 15:
5:25 p.m. Can your phone tell you whether you’ve been exposed to coronavius? Anxiety about exposure to the coronavirus is a reality pretty much everyone can relate to these days. But if your phone could tell you that you’ve been close to an infected person, with no invasion of privacy, would it help? Read the whole story here.
5 p.m. Grateful Dead guitarist calls on Congress to give independent venues a lifeline: Bob Weir joined a panel of music industry leaders on Tuesday urging Congress to support small and independent venues during the coronavirus pandemic. “Music crosses party lines,” said the guitarist for Grateful Dead. The group’s press conference, organized by Blue Note Napa and Berkeley’s Another Planet Entertainment, was to draw attention to two bipartisan proposals: the Restart Act and the Save Our Stages Act.
3:40 p.m. Marin moves into the red: Marin County has won a red designation under the state’s new four-tiered color categories. Moving from purple to red allows the county to open more businesses, and Marin is moving swiftly to permit reopenings of gyms, movie theaters and other businesses.
3:33 p.m. Running out of unemployment benefits? Many who first claimed unemployment as the Bay Area went into shelter-in-place may see their initial benefits expire. But there are programs to extend benefits, and you may get helped automatically. Get the details in Kathleen Pender’s Net Worth column.
3:29 p.m. Contra Costa County reports more cases: Contra Costa County confirmed another 65 coronavirus cases, for a total of 15,489 cases since the start of the pandemic.
2:56 p.m. NY breaks 38-day streak on positive rate: New York state’s positive rate for coronavirus tests rose above 1% Monday for the first time in over a month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Tuesday. Out of 73,678 tests performed Monday, just over 1% — 766 tests— came back positive, following 38 days with positive tests below 1%.
2:50 a.m. Mask Mobile roves San Mateo County: San Mateo County has launched the Mask Mobile, a roving van distributing face masks throughout the county, officials said Tuesday. The brightly-colored van will make stops at community gathering points to educate residents about the importance of mask-wearing and other coronavirus safety requirements. The county will provide Mask Mobile updates on Twitter.
2:16 p.m. Online shopping in pandemic boosts FedEx: FedEx earned $1.25 billion in its latest quarter, as online shopping remained popular among customers avoiding stores, and shipments between businesses improved. The delivery giant reported Tuesday that it brought in $19.3 billion in revenue during the three months that ended Aug. 31.
2:12 p.m. Fauci says Vermont did it right: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, praised Vermont’s coronavirus approach and steps to reopen safely. He emphasized Vermont’s emphasis on the safety imperatives of wearing masks, avoiding crowds and taking other simple precautions. Fauci commented via video at Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s virus briefing Tuesday.
2:05 p.m. Governor gives thumbs up to UW reopening: University of Wisconsin-Madison officials made the right decision to reopen the campus Sept. 2 even though there’s been a surge of COVID-19 cases — 2,160 students and 31 campus workers — Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday. The university has been forced to suspend in-person classes in lieu of online instruction and quarantine multiple fraternity and sorority houses as well as two large dorms.
1:57 p.m. Dosa closes in SF: The Fillmore Street location of southern Indian restaurant Dosa is the latest resaturant to close during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the restaurant’s Oakland outpost as its only brick-and-mortar. The bulk of its operation will now be handled via its virtual kitchen in South San Francisco, which will offer takeout and delivery from hubs throughout the Bay Area. For a list of area restaurant closures, read more.
1:40 p.m. Scientific American makes 1st-ever endorsement: In its first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history, the magazine Scientific American announced Tuesday it’s backing Democrat Joe Biden, saying President Trump “has basically damaged the United States and its people because he rejects evidence and science.” The magazine condemned Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and criticized him for seeking cutbacks in scientific funding and hobbling the U.S. response to climate change.
1:32 p.m. Tech leads Wall Street: Technology stocks finished sharply higher Tuesday, helping the Nasdaq composite rise, but financial and consumer stocks weighed on the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average. The Dow finished virtually unchanged at 27,995, while the Nasdaq posted a 1.2% gain to close at 11,190. The S&P 500 was up 0.5% at 3,401. Apple shares were up slightly after its first virtual product introduction, where it unveiled high-end and budget versions of the Apple Watch along with updated iPads.
1:20 p.m. Trick-or-treating strongly discouraged: While the state prepares official guidelines for the Halloween holiday — discouraging close contact during the pandemic — Bay Area public health officials have their own contingency plans to help make Halloween feel more safe than scary. Read the whole story here.
12:30 p.m. ‘Law and order’ candidate Trump defies health rules: President Trump, running as the “law and order” candidate, still refuses to abide by coronavirus health orders and guidelines, including those of his own administration, with his large rallies underscoring his belief that an image of normalcy is vital to winning re-election in November, the Associated Press reports. Democratic governors and local leaders have urged Trmp to reconsider his events, warning that he’s putting lives at risk. But Trump and his team say the rallies are protected by the First Amendment.
12:44 p.m. Former Trump campaign aide apologizes for seditious scientists remark: Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, apologized Tuesday to Secretary Alex Azar for a Facebook outburst in which he accused federal scientists working on the pandemic of “sedition” and warned of coming violence from left-wing “hit squads.” He is considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems, the New York Times reports, citing a source familiar with the situation.
12:35 p.m. Marin County moves up to red tier: Marin County has moved to the state’s red tier of coronavirus progress, meaning it has fewer restrictions on what can open. Other counties that moved up from the most restrictive, purple, category to the red are Inyo and Tehama, Dr. Mark Ghaly, state health secretary, said Tuesday.
12:13 p.m. Virus brings unwelcome Halloween trick: Californians should “be prepared for a different type of Halloween” this year, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health secretary, said Tuesday. “The traditional kind of mixing … is really not advised,” he told reporters in an apparent reference to neighborhood trick-or-treating. He said costumes and candy can still be part of the fun, and the state will soon release guidelines on what’s acceptable. “All things are pointing to quite a different Halloween,” he said, adding the same holds for other holidays through this year.
11:47 a.m. Mayor London Breed urges resilience as hospitalizations rise in SF: Noting a 29% increase in coronavirus hospitalizations in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed on Tuesday urged residents to stay resilient. “We are not out of the woods when it comes to COVID,” she said. The city, which has recorded 10,430 COVID-19 cases and 91 deaths, allowed several businesses to reopen Monday, but the mayor warned that if case numbers significantly head back up, the city would have to reverse course. “We don’t want to turn back the clock,” she said, urging adherence to masking, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. “We can sacrifice this time for a better future.”
11:40 a.m. US global reputation plunges in pandemic response: A new 13-nation poll finds the United States’ reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners in the face of a disorganized response to the coronavirus. The Pew Research Center says the share of people in several countries who view the U.S. favorably has dropped to the lowest levels in the nearly two decades of Pew’s tracking. In the poll released Tuesday a median of 15 percent of respondents said the United States had handled the pandemic well.
11:20 a.m. World Series goes into a coronavirus bubble, Texas Rangers’ park: The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, as part of a bubble agreement finalized Tuesday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the first time the sport’s championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944. The agreement aims to minimize coronavirus exposure for the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series.
11:10 a.m. Some Bay Area counties see tripling of food insecurity: Food insecurity — lack of access to healthy and culturally appropriate food — has more than doubled statewide and more than tripled in some Bay Area counties. In San Francisco, 18.7% of households struggled to get enough to eat in April and May, up from 5.7% in December 2018, according to the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Read more here.
11:02 a.m. Hunger worsening in Bay Area and state: Six months into the pandemic, hunger is more pervasive than ever in the Bay Area and California.Widespread job loss has left millions scrimping for basic needs, especially low-wage workers at hotels, restaurants, airports and stores who bore the brunt of layoffs and lack financial cushions. “I’ve been an antihunger advocate in California for over 20 years and never seen anything like this,” said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Read the details here.
10:58 a.m. Conspiracy fliers in Long Island: Dozens of Long Island, N.Y., residents recently found fliers on their doors spreading the baseless claim that the government is seeking minorities to “experiment” on for a coronavirus vaccine. “Parents who will be sending their children to school this fall should be mindful of any and all documents or waivers they’re asked to sign,” the notice says. “In a rush to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 or Corona Virus, the government is looking for minorities to experiment on.”
10:55 a.m. Schumer says top health official should step down: Senate Minority Leader Chuck of New York called Tuesday for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to resign in the wake of news reports about political interference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies, the Washington Post reports. Azar “has not only failed to push back against these outrageous moves by President Trump, he has been almost entirely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency,” Schumer said.
10:41 a.m. Health insurance a little more scarce last year: Even before pandemic-caused job losses took health benefits from millions of Americans, health coverage had declined last year, continuing a three-year trend, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday. Nearly 30 million people in the country lacked coverage at some point during 2019, 1 million more than in the previous year.
10:09 a.m. International mixing, mingling, bare faces at historic White House gathering: The latest White House event sidestepping Trump administration coronavirus guidelines was Tuesday’s historic signing of the new Israeli peace accord with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. A large international crowd mingled and chatted before the ceremony on the White House south grounds, with now-familiar TV images showing only a few in face masks, not including Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force. Chairs were placed closely, without recommended social distance.
10:07 a.m. COVID deaths among the young hit minorities hardest: Although a small proportion of people under the age of 21 are dying from complications associated with COVID-19 in the U.S., a disproportionate number of fatalities come from minority communities, according to a new report issued by the CDC Tuesday. Read the story here.
9:50 a.m. SF and San Mateo County case numbers rise: San Francisco confirmed another 52 cases of the coronavirus, for a cumulative total of 10,430 cases as of Tuesday. San Mateo County reported San Mateo another 76 cases, for a total of 9,242 cases. The case numbers continue to grow throughout the Bay Area, but at much slower rates than during the summer peaks.
9:39 a.m. Gates Foundation rues pandemic fallout on world vaccine coverage: A Gates Foundation annual report on global health-related progress says that vaccine coverage, a proxy measure for how health systems are functioning, has been “set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks,” due to pandemic fallout. The vaccine coverage in 2020 is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, it said, as economies falter, governments move resources to try to manage the coronavirus and people stop seeking health care to avoid being infected.
9:24 a.m. Pelosi vows to stay put until virus relief addressed: Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Tuesday that the House would not leave for the November elections “until we have a bill” on new stimulus aid to prop up the coronavirus-ravaged economy. She made the statement on a private conference call, the New York Times reports, amid growing concern among lawmakers over the prospect of returning home to face voters without a new stimulus.
9:04 a.m. France to fast-track citizenship for courageous foreigners: France is to reward foreign health care workers and others who distinguished themselves fighting COVID-19 by fast-tracking citizenship applications for those who want to become French. The Associated Press reports that the Interior Ministry this week directed prioritization of naturalization requests from foreigners who “actively participated in the national effort, with devotion and courage” against the epidemic.
8:40 a.m. Reopening set for SF museums: With new easing of coronavirus shut-down rules for museums, major SF institutions announced reopening plans: The de Young will allow members in on Sept. 22, and the public in starting Sept. 25, debuting a Frida Kahlo show. The Asian Art Museum is set to reopen to members on Oct. 1 and to the public Oct. 3. Both museums will operate at 25% visitor capacity.
8:28 a.m. Back to business for some SF industries: Gym rats and people desperate for haircuts and massages finally got a break in San Francisco on Monday following six months of shuttered businesses. Fitness and personal care operators were allowed to open, along with indoor massage, tattoo and piercing parlors, and outdoor family entertainment centers, drive-in movies, and tour buses and boats. Social distance, sanitizers and new rules abounded. Read how the first day went here.
8:10 a.m. Contra Costa County goes after ‘most blatant’ violators: In charging Pittsburg sports bar Skorz with illegally remaining open in violation of pandemic health orders — Contra Costa County’s first such prosecution — the district attorney’s office is “mindful of the fact that businesses are struggling right now and the health officer orders are evolving,” according to spokesman Scott Alonso. That’s why, he said, “we’re trying to reserve criminal prosecution for the most blatant violations.” The case could result in jail time, but more likely “a significant fine,” Alonso said. Read the story here.
7:44 a.m. Struggling BART gets federal money: BART is receiving a $1.2 billion federal grant to help pay for more frequent trains in the Transbay Tube, even as the agency struggles with low ridership, plummeting revenue and an uncertain future because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
7:02 a.m. Stock rebound continues: The Dow rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq 1.6% in early trading. Optimism about a vaccine and corporate dealmaking propelled shares higher.
Updates from Monday, Sept. 14:
4:15 p.m. Bay Area case counts plummet from summer highs: The spread of coronavirus has slowed significantly since the peak of the Bay Area’s summer surge, with new cases falling over 60% since the difficult days of mid-August. Read the whole story here.
3:24 p.m. New study links blood type to COVID-19 risk: A forthcoming study from genetics company 23andMe shows that a person’s genetic code could be connected to how likely they are to catch COVID-19 — and how severely it hits them, the health news publication Stat reports. The study, not yet peer reviewed, is an important confirmation of earlier work on the subject. People with O blood seemed to test positive less often than expected when compared to other blood groups, the study indicates.
3:08 p.m. Trump holding another closely-packed indoor rally: President Trump arrived in Arizona on Monday, after a wildfire-oriented visit to California, for an indoor roundtable billed as Latinos for Trump. TV footage showed a large hall filled with supporters sitting almost shoulder to shoulder and many not wearing face masks, the latest instance of his events flouting health guidance from his own administration..
3:03 p.m. Hospitalizations at 2,841: Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across California numbered 2,841 as of Sunday, state health officials reported Monday. Another 824 who were hospitalized were suspected of having the illness.
2:46 p.m. State lawmakers set bad example on virus safety: Members of the California Legislature set a terrible example by modeling how not to stay safe from coronavirus infection during their end-of-session meetings in late August, Kaiser Health News reports. Lawmakers huddled closely, let their masks slip below their noses, smooshed together for photos and shouted “Aye!” and “No!” when voting in the Senate, potentially spraying virus-laden particles at their colleagues.
2:11 p.m. Alameda County tops 20,000 cases: Alameda County became the first in the Bay Area to surpass 20,000 cases of the coronavirus to date. The county repoted 31 new cases Monday, bringing its cumulative total to 20,022.
1:45 p.m. Haul of fake N95 masks seized: About 500,000 counterfeit N95 respirator masks have been seized in Chicago by Customs and Border Protection officers. Federal officials announced Monday that the mask shipment from China was seized Sept. 10 at O’Hare International Airport. The masks were headed to a company in Manalapan, N.J.
1:38 p.m. No indoor dining in Santa Clara County: Although Santa Clara County achieved the red-tier status under the state’s reopening levels — meaning less restrictions than the worst, purple, category — county restaurants are still restricted to outdoor dining and takeout, county officials said in a release. Coronavirus presence is still substantial, and “Indoor dining necessarily involves removal of face coverings indoors which makes it higher risk,” the county said. The release cited a recent CDC report linking dining out with higher rates of infection.
1:25 p.m. Contra Costa County allows some outdoor business: Contra Costa County said Monday, that consistent with its purple-tier reopening status, personal care services can operate outdoors, except for tattooing, piercing and nonmedical electrolysis; racetracks and cardrooms may operate outdoors; music, TV and film production can resume, along with professional sports without live audiences. “When the data tracked by the state show sustained improvement for two weeks, the county will move into the red tier, allowing more businesses and activities to reopen,” county officials said in a release.
1:20 p.m. Stocks bounce back: Led by small and tech stocks, the markets had a strong day Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.2% and the S&P 500 1.3%, but the other indexes did far better, with the Nasdaq up 1.9% and the Russell 2000 2.8%.
12:58 p.m. Squaw-Alpine cancels walk-up tickets this year: Lake Tahoe skiers used to buying day passes to ski at premier Lake Tahoe resorts won’t have that option this winter. Alterra Mountain Co., which owns Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, announced Monday it is cancelling walk-up window ticket sales to reduce crowds. The company said it also will be “dynamically controlling” advance ticket sales to curb the numbers of skiers on the mountains.
12:42 p.m. Contra Costa County reports more infections: Contra Costa County confirmed another 73 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing its total since the start of the pandemic to 15,424 cases.
12:29 p.m. South Carolina lieutenant governor infected: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette was diagnosed with COVID-19, but is recovering in isolation with her family at home, officials said.
12:10 p.m. Pittsburg bar owner charged with illegal opening: Contra Costa County officials are charging the owner of Skorz Bar in Pittsburg with keeping the bar open in violation of county health order. Kimberly Beatrice Dixon of also was charged Monday with operating her bar with a suspended alcohol license. District Attorney Diana Becton said “hundreds of complaints” have come in about non-essential businesses being open and her office is investigating them in the interest of public health.
11:09 a.m. HHS official sees armed insurrection brewing among scientists: The Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs accused career government scientists of “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and warned that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election. Michael Caputo said, without evidence, in a Facebook video that the CDC was harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, the New York Times reported.
10:25 a.m. Eli Lilly says anti-inflammatory drug helps remdesivir patients: Drug maker Eli Lilly said Monday that adding an anti-inflammatory medicine, baricitinib, to remdesvir for hospitalized COVID-19 patients shortens their time to recovery by a day. Eli Lilly announced results from a 1,000-person study sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The result have not yet been published or peer reviewed. The baricitinib pill already is sold as Olumiant to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
10:15 a.m. SF, San Mateo County report additional cases: San Francisco confirmed another 76 coronavirus cases, bringing its cumulative total to 10,378 as of Monday. San Mateo County reported 89 new cases. Neither county recorded additional COVID-19 deaths.
9:59 a.m. Food bank in Oakland closes due to smoke: The Alameda County Community Food Bank drive-through on Oakport Street in was closed Monday due to poor air quality. The organization said reopening for normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday operations will be decided based on how the air changes.
9:46 a.m. NAACP and union ads hit Trump on pandemic: The NAACP and a leading public-sector labor union are airing radio ads to mobilize Black voters in several battleground states by highlighting President Trump’s pandemic stewardship and its impact on the Black community. The ads are airing in major markets in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina through Election Day, the Washington Post reports. “While Trump lied, Black people died,” says the NAACP ad.
9:39 a.m. Trump says he was not beholden to Nevada capacity limits: President Trump said in an interview published Monday that he did not believe he was subject to an order by Nevada’s Democratic governor limiting gatherings to 50 people when he held an indoor rally for thousands in Henderson on Sunday night. “No,” Trump said when asked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter if he believed he was subject to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order.
8:48 a.m. Sharp spike in pandemic relief fraud: The California Employment Development Department is taking steps to combat a sharp increase in suspected unemployment fraud that will require some people benefits recipients to jump through additional hoops to get paid. Many people have EDD mail piling up in their mailboxes but addressed to strangers. Legitimate recipients, on the other hand, have said their debit cards loaded with benefits were sent to the wrong address. Read the story here.
8:38 a.m. NFL cracks down on face coverings: The NFL in a memo Monday morning reinforced its requirement that coaches wear face coverings at all times on the sidelines during games, threatening discipline for those who don’t comply. The sharply worded message, written by executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, was in response to varied compliance on the first Sunday of the 2020 season, and was directed particularly at head coaches, the frequent focus of TV cameras.
8:10 a.m. Record day for new cases: The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours. The biggest increases were from three nations: India reporting 94,372 new cases, the United States with 45,523, and Brazil with 43,718. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417, WHO reported. The U.S. and India each reported over 1,000 new deaths.
8:02 a.m. Trump defies Nevada health guidelines at indoor rally: In open defiance of state regulations and his own administration’s pandemic health guidelines, President Trump hosted a large indoor rally Sunday night in Nevada, telling a packed, nearly mask-less crowd that the nation was “making the last turn” in defeating the virus. In one clear exception to the mostly bare faces, those in the stands directly behind Trump, whose images would end up on TV, were mandated to wear masks.
7:56 a.m. Giants’ Dickerson talks about enormous stress after false positive: Giants left fielder Alex Dickerson, who had to suppress tears as he told reporters of his false positive coronavirus test, talks about the harrowing experience and the stress for him and his pregnant wife, especially due to two media reports. Read the story here.
7:48 a.m. Stimulus aid ending, restaurants to go belly up: Thousands of beleaguered Bay Area restaurant owners used federal loans to survive the pandemic’s initial shut down orders. But for many, that money is gone, and now restaurateurs and industry advocates say that businesses will likely close this fall until there’s more government funding or the pandemic ends. Some closures will be temporary, but other restaurants will likely never reopen. Read The Chronicle’s story.
7:22 a.m. Brex latest to go ‘remote first’: Corporate card startup Brex, which once broadcast its Silicon Valley presence on billboards and bus stops across San Francisco is the latest company to de-emphasize physical presence in the Bay Area due to changes forced by the coronavirus pandemic. It announced to employees the company will go “remote first.” Read the details.
7:14 a.m. Pandemic scrambles long-planned SOMA transformation: After nearly a decade of planning, the transformation of 230 acres in San Francisco’s Central South of Market neighborhood into a booming tech and housing hub is suddenly in doubt as the economy sputters from the coronavirus pandemic. Pinterest’s cancellation last month of a 490,000-square-foot office lease, one of the large projects planned in the area, is a sign that once-insatiable tech demand has shrunk. Read more here.
7:08 a.m. Stocks broadly rise, though Gilead drops: The Dow and Nasdaq indexes rose as the markets opened, with big tech names like Apple and Facebook up. Gilead dropped after agreeing to buy cancer drugmaker Immunomedics for $21 billion; its CEO said it would continue to develop its COVID-19 treatment remdesivir.