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Bay Area activists joined a national digital rally Wednesday calling for local, state and federal officials to hold back rent, mortgage and utility payments amid the recent novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, outbreak.

With April 1 arriving, many tenants most likely have to pay up for monthly rent to landlords by Thursday or in the next few days.

Many counties in the Bay Area have already issued moratoriums to prevent landlords from evicting tenants affected by the Covid-19.

Businesses throughout the Bay Area, including but not limited to restaurants, entertainment venues, bars and clothing stores have closed as many counties have expanded stay-at-home orders until May 3.

Oakland City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas and other Bay Area leaders and residents participated in the online rally.

San Francisco housing activists also held an online rally Wednesday calling on The City’s largest landlord, Veritas Investments, to suspend tenant rent collection.

The Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Jobs with Justice and tenants of Vertias demanded they suspend collecting rent until May 3, or until stay-at-home orders expire.

San Francisco has already issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants affected by the stay-at-home order, but tenants are still required to pay unpaid rent back to landlords.

Advocates say rent payments should be canceled entirely in so tenants do not find themselves further in debt.

In a statement, Veritas said they already voluntarily issued a moratorium on evictions to help residents.

San Francisco Muni

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency temporarily suspended boarding passengers to board at Muni bus rear doors.

Erica Kato, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, said passengers with disabilities can still use front doors to enter buses, though the transit agency has posted signs about the new rear door boarding policy.

Passengers should note that operators of any bus route can skip stops if buses are too crowded, to be determined by operators.

Officials are also monitoring capacity through automatic passenger counts and inspections from street-level staff.

As reported, at least two Muni operators have contracted Covid-19 to date.

U.S.

  • Confirmed Cases: 213,372
  • Deaths: 4.757
  • Recoveries: 8,847

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 tracking tool as of Wednesday at 4:08 p.m.

California

  • Confirmed Cases: 9,399
  • Deaths: 199

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 tracking tool as of Wednesday 4:10 p.m.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said Wednesday it was unlikely students would return to school for the rest of 2019-2020 instruction year.

Thurmond said at a Wednesday press conference that he advised local education officials that distance learning will most likely continue through the end of the school year.

The superintendent stressed the need to continue social distancing as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in California:

“For those reasons, it is so important that our schools continue to do what they are doing that our schools are using distance learning.”

Thurmond added:

“We’ve been in communication with superintendents around the state urging all of our superintendents and our schools to proceed as if we can only educate our kids to distance learning for the remainder of the school year.”

Newsom announced Google will donate 4,000 Chromebooks to students in need throughout the state and that the state will provide 100,000 Wi-Fi access spots targeting rural households and proving free internet service for three months.

Bay Area stay-at-home-order details

Bay Area residents are facing the first day of extended shelter-in-place or shelter-at-home orders issued by public health officers extended until May 3.

The new orders includes new public guidelines, including prohibiting use of playgrounds, dog parks, picnic areas and other similar recreational areas. Other shared recreational spaces, such as tennis courts, basketball courts, rock climbing walls and pools are also prohibited.

Essential businesses that remain open must have a written protocol that establishes social distancing guidelines before April 3.

Most construction projects, including residential and commercial, are now prohibited. Healthcare projects related to the Covid-10 pandemic and mixed housing and development projects with 10 percent of affordable housing are allowed under the order to continue.

Counties extending the stay-at-home order include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo and Sonoma. The City of Berkeley has also extended its order.

Soloano County has extended its stay-at-home order until April 30.

Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window. SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker. Updated twice daily.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 339
  • Deaths: 8

Source: The Alameda County Public Health Department as of Wednesday.

City of Berkeley

  • Confirmed Cases: 20
  • Deaths: 0

Source: The City of Berkeley as of Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Berkeley reports separately from Alameda County.

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 250
  • Deaths: 3

Source: Contra Costa Health Services as of Wednesday at 1:37 p.m.

Jesse Garnier/SFBay

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 107
  • Deaths: 5

Source: Marin Health and Human Services as of Tuesday.

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 18
  • Deaths: 1

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

Napa County officials said Wednesday they plan to extend their stay-at-home order until May 3 following other Bay Area counties who have already announced an extension.

Officials say they plan to announce the new public health order no later than Friday.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 434
  • Deaths: 7

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health as of Wednesday at 9 a.m.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new citywide program that allows volunteers to help a senior or a person with a disability during extended stay-at-home orders.

The program matches volunteers to persons who may be unable to get groceries, medications and other essential items while ordered to stay at home.

Breed said Wednesday at a press conference:

“It’s basically like you’re going to be responsible for caring for and taking care of that senior for the duration of this pandemic. I think that what is gained from this is not only the ability to do something to help support others, but it could be the beginning of a long lasting friendship.”

Friends and family members may not be able to help individuals living in isolation, which is where volunteers can be helpful in providing support for this vulnerable population, Breed said.

The City partnered with the company Mon Ami, which already has an app platform that pairs in-person visits with volunteers and seniors. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit San Francisco’s emergency volunteer website.

Additionally, the Department of Disability and Aging Services helpline now operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The phone number is (415) 355-6700.

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 388
  • Deaths: 10

Source: San Mateo County Health Department as of Wednesday.

Officials in San Mateo County have turned the San Mateo County Event Center into a 250-bed hospital for patients with less severe symptoms of Covid-19. More about the story can be found here.

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 956
  • Deaths: 32 deaths

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health Department as of Wednesday at 1:13 p.m.

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 54
  • Deaths: 0

Source: Solano Public Health as of Wednesday.

Solano County officials have extended its stay-at-home order until April 30.

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 91
  • Deaths: 1

Source: County of Sonoma as of Wednesday at 2:45 p.m.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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