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Bay Area COVID-19 update: delayed ship departure, widespread school closures, bans

The California Department of Public Health reported 198 confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases throughout seven California counties as of Thursday morning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Thursday that waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment and disability payments for those impacted by the coronavirus. The order also extends the state’s emergency powers and allows for commandeering of private property if deemed necessary for COVID-19 treatment or quarantine purposes.

The NBA has temporarily suspended the regular season for at least 30 days. In a statement to fans, Commissioner Adam Silver said the season will resume “if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”

BART Ridership Continues Decline

Wednesday’s ridership numbers reflect a 35 percent drop compared to an average Wednesday just last month, that’s down an additional 5 percent from Tuesday’s total.

The agency announced Thursday that it will offer hand sanitizer dispensers at each station, and is in the process of acquiring beyond the seven-to-10-day supply they currently have access to. The decision to provide hand sanitizer is in addition to the aggressive cleaning schedule implemented as a response to the virus outbreak and passenger concerns.

BART officials say the agency is losing approximately $600,000 in weekday revenue based on current ridership numbers. If the trajectory continues and ridership drops by one-third, the agency expects funding shortfalls. Officials said they are seeking alternative assistance from local, state and federal sources.

For daily updates about BART ridership and how the coronavirus is affecting service, people can visit their website.

Scot Tucker/SFBay The Grand Princess cruise ship passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA., on Monday, March 9, 2020.(Scot Tucker/

Grand Princess

Of the more than 3,500 cruise ship passengers being slowly evacuated and assessed at the Port of Oakland, 650 have been transferred to either Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield or San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station to wait out 14-day quarantines. Some passengers exhibiting mild symptoms were taken to San Carlos hotel, which is discussed below.

As of Wednesday night, 1,963 people had been taken off the ship, Newsom said, leaving nearly 500 people aboard who were expected to disembark Thursday. It was thought that the more than 1,000 members of the crew, including 19 who tested positive for coronavirus, would be leaving Oakland Thursday for an unknown destination.

The ship’s departure, however, has been delayed until Sunday. In a press release issued Thursday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said:

“I support extending the stay of the Grand Princess because the operation has proven to be safe, meticulous, and at no risk to our residents.”

Alameda County

Oakland City Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday that confirms the public health emergency declaration proposed Monday. The vote extends the city’s ability to exercise emergency powers related to the coronavirus for an additional 60 days and enables acquisition of supplies and equipment necessary to prevent further spread.

Councilmembers also passed a measure asking that Alameda County eviction hearings be delayed until April 7 out of concern for spread of the virus in the confined courtroom setting.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a letter that homeless encampment sites will be nearly doubled in capacity and will be supplied with sanitizer, hand-washing stations and toilets.

Berkeley Unified School District announced late Thursday that public schools in the system will be closed to student instruction until April 6.

Contra Costa County

West Contra Costa County schools will be closed beginning Monday and the spring break schedule is being moved up from April 6 to March 30, the district said. Teachers will continue instruction online and with take-home packets in the first two weeks for students in second through 12th grades. The district is supplying laptops and tablets for students to complete their work.

Meals provided by the school can still be picked up at Pinole Valley, De Anza, Richmond and Kennedy high schools, Helms and DeJean middle schools and Nystrom, Riverside and Montalvin elementary schools.

The public can access district updates online.

The Contra Costa County Library system has canceled all programs, events and use of meeting rooms, beginning Friday and through March 31, according to a statement issued Thursday. The cancellations are in response to the county’s recommendation to limit gatherings of 50 or more people. The 26 community libraries will remain open for regular hours.

The county health department reported 17 total confirmed cases Thursday.

NIH – NIAID A 3D print of COVID-19, or 2019 novel coronavirus particle.

Marin County

Tamalpais Union High School and Ross School districts are shutting down all schools Friday and through March 30.

Marin County Health and Human Services is providing the public with online updates and recommended guidance.

Napa County

Although no confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported, county officials declared a local health emergency Thursday as a proactive measure. The declaration requires Board of Supervisors ratification, which is expected to occur Tuesday.

Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio echoed the state guidelines in calling for non-essential events and gathering to be canceled. The Napa County Public Health Division also established a visitor restriction at long-term care and skilled nursing facilities in an effort to protect residents who are considered most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

San Francisco

The San Francisco Unified School District Thursday announced a three-week closure of all public schools district-wide. Further reporting on that matter can be found here.

Mayor London Breed said in a Thursday press conference that city employees impacted by coronavirus will be granted advance access to up to 80 hours of vacation time or paid sick leave.

A Public Health Order issued Thursday prohibits non-essential visits to residential care facilities in order to protect elderly and otherwise vulnerable residents from virus exposure. The new order applies to 18 private care facilities and builds on the similar prohibition issued for hospitals last week. In addition, facilities are required to create plans for screening visitors, residents and staff for COVID-19.

San Mateo County

According to the county’s public health website, there are 20 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday evening. San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow issued a legal order that bans gatherings of 250 people or more — the ban is effective as of 11:59 p.m. Friday and at this time is expected to last until April 3.

San Carlos officials said in a statement Thursday it was “highly unexpected” that Grand Princess passengers were sent to the city’s Fairfield Inn and Suites on Skyway Road. The hotel is conveniently located just next to the San Carlos Airport. The passengers being quarantined at the hotel for at least 14 days are Americans who have mild COVID-19 symptoms but have not tested positive.

Santa Clara County

Eighteen additional confirmed cases were announced Thursday, bringing the county’s total number up to 66.

At least four San Jose firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and another two are isolating at home while they await test results. As of Thursday, nearly 80 of the city’s firefighters are on leave after exposure to a confirmed patient in the line of duty for the San Jose Fire Department.

Several family members of firefighters who tested positive have either also tested positive or are exhibiting virus symptoms.

San Jose Fire Department Four San Jose, Calif. firefighters tested positive for COVID-19, two others are isolated awaiting test results and nearly 80 others are on leave after exposure to a person with confirmed coronavirus.

Officials for the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 230 said fire stations that may have been exposed will be temporarily closed and deep cleaned. Displaced personnel will be relocated to unaffected stations.

Officials with the Diocese of San Jose Department of Catholic Schools announced that their system of schools will be closed beginning Monday and through March 30.

The public can visit the county’s health website for information about the virus.

Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County schools will be closed Monday and through March 20, according to a district statement issued Thursday. Officials said they will reassess the situation at the end of next week and decide then if extended closure is warranted.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County health officials are still reporting three confirmed COVID-19 stemming from cruise ship virus spread. The number has not changed since March 6. Despite the low infection rate so far, the county is implementing an “enhanced surveillance” program to determine the person-to-person spread.

The Department of Human Services spokesman Rohish Lal said they will test a group of people for the coronavirus — half of the test subjects will have experienced flu-like symptoms and the other half will be otherwise healthy.

Bay City News contributed to this report. Additional information regarding closures, cancellations and earlier announcements can be accessed in our Wednesday reporting.

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