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Keep At Residence In Sonoma County; Testing Door-To-Door In Santa Clara; Excessive Hopes For Pfizer Vaccine – CBS San Francisco

CBS San Francisco Staff Report

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With a surge in coronavirus cases, the information you need to know is coming fast and furious. Here’s a roundup of the COVID stories we’ve published over the last 24 hours.

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San Francisco’s Latinx Population Continues To See Higher Case Rates
SAN FRANCISCO — The Latinx population of San Francisco continues to face higher positivity rates of COVID-19, especially among low-income and essential workers, according to a testing survey conducted in late November. The Unidos en Salud/United in Health initiative, organized by the University of California at San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the Latino Task Force for COVID-19 and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, tested nearly 7,000 residents in the Mission District and the Bayview, Excelsior and Tenderloin neighborhoods before and after Thanksgiving. Test samples were collected Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1 through door-to-door canvassing by the LTF, according to UCSF. The four neighborhoods were chosen for their high case numbers relative to the rest of the city. Of those tested, 4.4 percent were positive for the virus, higher than the city’s seven-day average 2.9 positivity rate as of Wednesday. In addition, 79 percent of those who tested positive were Latinx despite just over half of those tested being Latinx. Read More

Sonoma County Prepares for Stay-Home Order Beginning Saturday
PETALUMA — Sonoma County is now joining five other Bay Area counties in imposing the stay-at-home order which will start Saturday just after midnight. Businesses are bracing for the next round of closures. Many of the business owners in Petaluma say they saw this coming. Starting Saturday, there will be no more outdoor dining and people will have to stay home for anything but essential activities. “Initially like anything else, you’re like ‘oh geez, not again!’” said Peter White, owner of Sugo Trattoria. White is not surprised by the latest round of closures announced by the county Thursday. “We need to act now before it gets worse in Sonoma County,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, the Sonoma County public health officer. Read More

Pfizer Vaccine Heads to FDA for Approval as Bay Area Awaits 1st Shipments
SAN FRANCISCO — The Food and Drug and Administration’s authorization of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine could come within the next couple days now that a government advisory panel has voted to approve its emergency use. The FDA doesn’t have to follow the advice of the panel but it usually does. At the very top of the list to get vaccinated are hospital workers. The sprint to get the COVID-19 vaccine from the production line and into arms of the most vulnerable is nearing the finish line but there’s still a long way to go in the marathon to reach herd immunity and control the viral spread. California will initially receive more than 327,000 of the Pfizer COVID vaccine doses. San Francisco county will be given 12,000 doses next week but there is hesitation by many to take the vaccine. “Some nurses are concerned about the vaccines having adverse side effects,” said Jenny Rudnicki. Read More

California Unemployment Claims Spike Alongside Case Rates
SAN FRANCISCO — With businesses being forced to shut down amid COVID shelter orders across the state, unemployment claims are at their highest level in months. The latest numbers show California jobless claims have risen to nearly 178,000. Some experts are saying it could take months for the economy to bounce back in the wake of the latest coronavirus surge. With unemployment numbers jumping once again after a second lockdown, former EDD director Michael Bernick told KPIX 5 there is only one way out. “We won’t see any significant uptick in hiring until the vaccine,” Bernick said. Even with the FDA greenlighting the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use Thursday and doses arriving in the Bay Area as soon as next week, the job market will remain slim. “It will be until February or March until a larger part of the California labor force will be immunized. And even then, that’s only about a third,” said Bernick. Read More

Santa Clara County To Send Teams Door-to-Door To Administer Tests
SAN JOSE — To help curtail the surge in COVID-19 cases, Santa Clara County has ramped up its testing effort, including sending out teams door-to-door to administer coronavirus tests. The county Public Health Department said Thursday the teams will focus first in East San Jose where 55% of the population is Latino and where many do not have the ability or means to get tested. Santa Clara County is partnering with neighborhood health workers known as promotoras to hand out tests in hard hit areas of East San Jose where language barriers and fear have stood in the way of testing access. “Going door to door, the promotoras will offer self-administered COVID testing to individuals in the household,” explained Dr. Analilia Garcia, Racial & Health Equity Director for Santa Clara County. “The plan is to canvass the area before arriving,” Garcia went on to say. “So families know to expect us, and that this is a legitimate service.” Read More

Advocates Call On Newsom To Prioritize Vaccines For Teachers, School Staff
SAN FRANCISCO — Local lawmakers, doctors, education leaders and others on Thursday called on Gov. Gavin Newsom and public health officials to put teachers third in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available. Only health care workers and nursing home residents would be ahead of teachers and school staff, the group said. The group, convened virtually by San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen, said students have been impacted by the pandemic academically and their overall well-being has been affected. “Schools have been closed for nearly 9 months now, and yet state officials have failed to prioritize enough resources to support safe school reopening,” Ronen said in a statement. State health officials have recommended that health care workers and residents of nursing homes get the vaccine first, but have not recommended who next should get the vaccine. Read More

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Sonoma County To Join Stay-At-Home Order On Saturday – ‘We Have To Take Action Now’
SANTA ROSA — Sonoma County officials announced Thursday that it would join other Bay Area counties in implementing a stay-at-home order due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, effective Saturday. Residents are being urged to stay at home except for work, shopping or essential activities. Schools that are already open can continue to operate. Outdoor recreation would be allowed and playgrounds would stay open. Five Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara) and the city of Berkeley instituted the state’s stay-at-home restrictions before reaching the 15% ICU capacity threshold. Officials said the restrictions would stay in place until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2021. Sonoma Health officer Dr. Sundari Mase said that the county has seen an “alarming increase” in recent days of new cases and hospitalizations. Mase said the number of cases in the county has doubled in recent days and the 14-day average has reached 343 cases per 100,000, the highest point in the pandemic. Read More

California Lawmakers Say State is Struggling with Unemployment Backlog, Fraud
SACRAMENTO — A backlog of unemployment applications is piling up while a benefits scam could potentially cost California $2 billion, yet the state is failing to stop either, according to two state lawmakers. Democratic Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, who heads the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, said she is seeing “a continued pattern of constituents who get lost in the process.” Hundreds of residents across the state report “this sense of falling into a black hole where you don’t know what’s wrong, where you make phone calls that go unanswered, and you wait months and months for benefits and grow increasingly desperate,” she said. Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a frequent critic of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Democratic administration, cited complaints from two whistleblower employees of the Employment Development Department as well as customers who contacted his office in saying the new ID.me verification system “is failing substantially.” Read More

California DMV Suspends Behind-The-Wheel Tests For 2 Weeks Over Rising Cases
SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced Thursday that it plans to suspend all behind-the-wheel driving tests for two weeks amid the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state. Behind-the-wheel tests, which are required for first-time driver’s license and commercial license applicants, will be suspended starting December 14. The DMV said affected customers would be notified and have their tests rescheduled at a later date. Meanwhile, motorcycle tests would continue to take place, since the test can be done at a safe distance. “Behind-the-wheel drive tests require two people to share space in one vehicle and – while we have made numerous changes to safeguard the testing process – the current surge in COVID-19 cases presents increased risk to both parties,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. Read More

FDA Panel Endorses Emergency Authorization For Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel on Thursday recommended the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. If the vaccine is authorized by the FDA, the first shots could be distributed in the U.S. within days. Health care workers and nursing home residents would be among the first in line. The panel of outside experts reviewed trial data from Pfizer’s vaccine and made its recommendation to the FDA Thursday afternoon. Read More

No 2021 Contra Costa County Fair, Hopes For Return In 2022
ANTIOCH — Organizers of the Contra Costa County Fair announced it would cancel the event for a second year in a row, amid ongoing uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Contra Costa Event Park Board of Directors unanimously voted Wednesday to cancel the 2021 fair, which was scheduled for May 13-16. Organizers said the decision, more than five months before the event was set to take place, “did not come lightly.” “After thoughtful consideration, we do not feel it would be a responsible decision to continue with the planning of the 2021 Contra Costa County Fair, when it could potential (sic) be canceled at the last minute,” organizers said in a statement. “There is no higher priority than the safety of our Fairgrounds family, patrons, vendors, promoters and sponsors at the Contra Costa Event Park,” fair organizers went on to say. Read More

CA Notify Smartphone Exposure Notifications App Goes Live
SAN FRANCISCO — A new smartphone app is now available for Californians to let them know if they’ve been too close to someone who’s been infected with the coronavirus. Announced earlier this week, the CA Notify app went live Thursday and uses a new smartphone feature called “exposure notifications” that users opt-in to receive. Californians can activate the tool in their iPhone settings or on Android phones by downloading the CA Notify app from the Google Play store after receiving a notification. The app allows people who test positive for COVID-19 to anonymously inform people who have been in close proximity over the previous two weeks that they may have been exposed. It uses bluetooth technology to exchange so-called anonymous keys. Earlier this week, Governor Gavin Newsom explained the app using an example of a conversation between Alice and Bob, and what happens after Alice tests positive for COVID. Read More

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Santa Clara County To Receive Moderna Vaccine In Addition To Pfizer
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County now expects to get 39,300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in December, in addition to doses of the Pfizer vaccine, public health officials announced Wednesday. The county had already expected to receive 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, contingent on emergency use authorization from the federal government. If the Moderna vaccine is similarly approved, the county will likely receive 39,300 doses of that vaccine later in December, according to public health officials. As is generally the case, the early doses of both vaccines will be made available to people in the highest risk categories, as defined by the federal government and State of California. These include people at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work in direct health care or long-term care settings, and residents of long-term care facilities. Read More

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