The latest developments around the Bay Area related to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as of Saturday morning:
Santa Clara County is running a stockpile drive for medical equipment as healthcare workers prepare to handle large numbers of patients when testing begins to ramp up in the region.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office will release 26 inmates after the Superior Court signed an order to reduce the jail’s population and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
Facing a surge in patients, Walnut Creek’s John Muir Health on announced the closing of three urgent care centers in San Ramon, Orinda and Concord in order to consolidate care and staff in Berkeley, Pleasanton, Brentwood and Walnut Creek.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the launch of an emergency relief fund to serve the city’s most vulnerable residents and first responders during the pandemic.
The state has stopped staffing tollbooths on seven Bay Area bridges, which means automated cameras will capture license plates and drivers will get notifications in the mail unless they already have FasTrak.
As of Saturday at 8:30 a.m., officials have confirmed the following number of cases in the greater Bay Area region:
- Alameda County: 45 cases (35 at last check Friday)
- Contra Costa County: 46 cases (42 cases, 1 death on Friday)
- Marin County: 38 cases (15 on Friday)
- Monterey County: 5 cases (2 on Friday)
- Napa County: 0 cases (0 on Friday)
- San Francisco County: 76 cases (76 on Friday)
- San Mateo County: 110 cases, 1 death (100 cases, 1 death on Friday)
- Santa Clara County: 196 cases, 8 deaths (189 cases, 6 deaths on Friday)
- Santa Cruz County: 15 cases (14 on Friday)
- Solano County: 13 cases (10 on Friday)
- Sonoma County: 21 cases (11 on Friday)
- Statewide: 1,199 cases, 24 deaths (675 cases, 16 deaths on Friday)
School meal pickup services expand
As the shelter in place order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus has expanded to encompass the entire state of California, more schools are offering meals for pickup for students and their families.
According to data compiled by the Big Local News program at Stanford University, at least 390 schools in 12 counties around the Bay Area are offering free meal pickups while schools are closed and residents statewide have been ordered not to leave their home except for essential reasons.
Most of the Bay Area was placed on a three-week shelter in place order at midnight Tuesday. On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the entire state to stay at home indefinitely.
About 80 percent of the schools offering meals are open to any child 18 years old or younger and not just students. Some are open a few days a week with access to several meals at once, others are open daily.
That includes 58 locations in Alameda County, 37 in Contra Costa County, 19 in San Francisco, 43 in San Mateo County and 139 in Santa Clara County. As of Friday, Stanford researchers added seven locations in Marin County, 15 in Monterey, three in Napa, 39 in Santa Cruz, 19 in Solano and three in Sonoma.
Laura Dudnick, a spokesperson for San Francisco Unified School District, said Thursday that since the program started on March 17, more than 2,000 families have picked up meals at the city’s pickup sites.
She said a new donation has allowed the district to provide dinner as well and students can pick up all three meals at their sites.
In Oakland, meals are available for distribution on Monday and Thursdays and students can pick up meals to last them until the next distribution day.
According to a news release from Oakland Unified School District, more than 4,000 students picked up nearly 25,000 breakfasts and lunches at the 12 schools distributing meals on Monday.
The district said that its two busiest locations were Garfield Elementary School, which served 731 students, and Oakland High School, which served 635.
A map of locations compiled by Stanford’s Big Journalism Project is available here: http://tinyurl.com/map-schoolmeals-bayarea
– Scott Morris, Bay City News Foundation
Rohnert Park offers senior wellness checks
Wellness checks for older residents are being offered by the Rohnert Park Senior Center during the shelter-in-place order, the city announced Friday.
Residents who know a senior who could use a social wellness call can contact Cindy Bagley at (707) 588-3452 or email@example.com to have them added to the center’s phone list.
The senior center said in an announcement:
“Social distancing is important, but it could also affect the health of the elderly, isolating them when they may be most in need of assistance. … The city is making calls to seniors to say hello and check in on them every few days.”
The wellness checks will continue through the shelter-in-place order.
Oakland police officer diagnosed
The Oakland Police Department confirmed Friday evening that an employee who tested positive for the novel coronavirus is a police officer.
Officials said the officer, the first department employee to test positive, hasn’t been to work since Sunday and currently is self-quarantined offsite and is recovering.
The department said it has taken immediate action and precautions to protect the health and safety of all of its workers and is following Alameda County’s health order and protocols and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocols for COVID-19.
Police officials said that in preparation for COVID-19 their field officers received advance training about the virus from the Oakland Fire Department.
The department said it has personal protective equipment, including face masks and gloves, for its officers and the city began conducting COVID-19 tests for officers and other first responders starting on Friday.
Cal State University leaders postpone retirement
California State University Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Day announced on Friday that Cal State East Bay President Leroy Morishita and two other university leaders have postponed their retirements in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Day said Morishita, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White and Cal State Northridge President Dianne Harrison will continue in their respective roles through this fall.
White said in a statement:
“As the world faces an unprecedented crisis, now more than ever it is crucially important for stable and experienced hands to provide thoughtful guidance on all areas affecting the operations of the university.”
White said he’s “pleased and relieved” that Morishita, White and Harrison will continue to provide their leadership for the immediate future.
Morishita, who’s been president of Cal State East Bay since July 2011, announced last September that he planned to retire effective at the end of the current academic year.
White said last October that he planned to retire this July and Harrison announced last November that she planned to retire effective June 30.
Day said that searches to replace the three university leaders will recommence later this year:
“We will engage in a brief pause of the searches and resume activities at a later date.”
Benicia issues moratorium on utility disconnections
Benicia on Tuesday enacted a moratorium on utility service disconnections and late fees for non-payment due to the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency and the resulting closure of city offices.
The city has also extended deadlines for business license tax and transient occupancy tax payments.
The utility service moratorium is for both residential and commercial water and sewer customers. The tax deadline extensions will apply until June 15 to all businesses.
City Manager Lorie Tinfow said in a statement:
“We know that the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 emergency and the current shelter-at-home order has created a financial strain on our residents and businesses. … We are extending due dates to relieve some of the stress in dealing with the current situation.”
The city is making its most flexible payment plan available to utility customers indicating an impact or hardship as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. Customers should fill out the Payment Arrangement Agreement online at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/UtilityBilling and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although city offices are closed to the public, customers can make payment by telephone at (866) 344-1979; online at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/UtilityBilling; or via the drop box (do not leave cash) in front of City Hall, 250 East L St.
Customers with questions about starting or stopping water services or other service-related issues can go online to www.ci.benicia.ca.us/UtilityBilling and fill out the appropriate form, then email it to email@example.com.