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San Francisco transit officials made a major announcement Sunday afternoon that will lead to more reduced Muni service in the upcoming days due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jeffrey Tumlin, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of transportation, said that a majority of Muni routes will not be in service next week. The transit agency’s staff continue to work on the new schedule and could make an announcement on the schedule either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The SFMTA has already reduced service by cutting rapid routes and closed its subway stations and service last Monday. Buses replaced rail service.

As the transit agency works on transitioning its schedule, the SFMTA’s official Twitter account warned passengers who still need to use the transit system Monday to expect longer wait times on most routes they reconfigure the service.

Tumlin said the cut service is focused on protecting passengers and operators and ensuring essential workers, such as healthcare workers, grocery store staff, can still get to work.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors will meet virtually Tuesday to discuss its budget and most likely the upcoming service changes.

Laguna Honda coronavirus cases grow to 14

The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases as of Sunday at Laguna Honda Hospital stands at 14, San Francisco officials announced.

The total includes 11 staff members and three residents. Of the staff members, eight have had patient care duties.

All 14 cases are described as in good condition.

The count a week ago was two patients and seven staff members.

The City’s Department of Emergency Management said in an announcement:

“We expect more cases of Covid-19 in the Laguna Honda community, among staff and residents, because the virus is now spreading throughout the Bay Area. … This is a very challenging time, and (Laguna Honda) has expanded behavioral health resources for staff and residents.”

In response to a request from The City, the California Department of Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sent skilled personnel to Laguna Honda, including infection control nurses, infectious disease physicians and epidemiologists.

City officials said:

“These experts have insights from around the country and across the world to help us do better in our response.”

The hospital is under a protective quarantine order issued by The City on March 25.

U.S.

  • Confirmed Cases: 337,072
  • Deaths: 9,619
Open SFBay USA coronavirus tracker.

California

  • Confirmed Cases: 15,034
  • Deaths: 348

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 tracking tool as of Sunday at 4:13 p.m.

SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard. (Jesse Garnier/SFBay)
Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window. Open SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker.

Regional

Bay Area health officials are now advising the public to wear a cloth over the face and nose if heading out to an essential business or just getting some fresh air.

Health officials said the cloth is not a replacement for social distancing, but an additive to social distancing to keep from getting Covid-19. Officials said the cloth can be helpful, especially in businesses where social distancing is hard practice like inside crowded grocery stores.

The public should not purchase N-95 masks or any other medical grade masks in order to keep supplies available for healthcare workers.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 539
  • Deaths: 12

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

City of Berkeley

  • Confirmed Cases: 27
  • Deaths: 0

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

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 386
  • Deaths: 6

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a “temporary emergency worker” classification to make it easier to hire workers needed in the midst of the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s vote came after some public commenters accused county officials of trying to get around certain union hiring criteria, and that the hired temps would not have union protections. The lowest end of the $12- to $35-an-hour pay scale was called “poverty wages” by one commenter, Miles Parker.

Parker also said such wages and lack of protections amount to taking advantage of workers made desperate by the Covid-19 pandemic:

“You would be no better than profiteers in the private sector.”

Another commenter favored bringing in National Guard personnel to fill emergency roles over hiring people under the county’s proposed terms. A third said anyone hired should be hired for a permanent position, and not temporary.

County officials countered that they need to be able to hire workers quickly to replace or augment other workers who fall sick, must be otherwise quarantined or who are reassigned to Covid-19-response-related duties. With events bringing on almost daily changes and pivots, the emergency hiring needs to happen quickly.

County Administrator David Twa told the supervisors Tuesday he and his staff should have reached out more effectively to county employee unions; such discussions were to have taken place Thursday.

Twa said the emergency workers would not be replacements for union workers, and that the classification isn’t meant to harm the unions. And he isn’t sure such workers will be hired anyway.

Twa said:

“There’s no intention here not to use our (existing) employees to the extent possible. … If we absolutely have to use it, we don’t want to have to wait.”

County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said you can’t hire permanent workers when those permanent positions may well not exist, especially with Contra Costa and other counties likely facing budget problems, and possibly layoffs.

Source: Contra Costa Health Services as of 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 141
  • Deaths: 7

Source: Marin Health and Human Services as of Sunday

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 20
  • Deaths: 2

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Saturday. The county does not provide updates on Sunday.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 568
  • Deaths: 8

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health as of Saturday.

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 555
  • Deaths: 13

Source: San Mateo County Health Department as of 6:10 p.m. Saturday.

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1207
  • Deaths: 39

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health Department as of Sunday

Santa Clara County officials said Sunday that they have taken in the first two patients with Covid-19 into the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The convention center has been turned into a 250-bed respite for treating residents who are infected with the virus.

The National Guard has been able to build out several of these centers with beds and medical supplies statewide for cities to prepare for an influx of patients at hospitals.

Officials said the Santa Clara Convention Center is only taking patients with referrals.

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 73
  • Deaths: 1

Source: Solano Public Health as of Friday at 4:30 p.m. The county only releases reports Monday through Friday.

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 107
  • Deaths: 1

The Sonoma County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office said Friday it would consider written requests for a waiver of penalties for late payment of property taxes due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The second installment of the 2019-2020 annual secured property tax bill was due by Feb. 1, and it will be considered delinquent if not paid by April 10. The request for penalty waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Property owners who can make their tax payment are encouraged to do so.

A Covid-19-related penalty waiver form and information will be available after April 10 on the ACTTC website.

Also, the City of Santa Rosa is deferring lease payments for tenants of city-owner properties through June 30 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The deferments will provide immediate relief to businesses and organizations that rent property from the city and have suffered financial losses as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus emergency.

The deferrals are not a waiver of forgiveness of payments, and licensees and tenants will still be required to make payments at a later date. Any decision on lease payment forgiveness or waivers will be considered during the city’s 2021-2022 budget process. Tenants and licensees who are still able to make payments are encouraged to do so.

The city leases surplus property to individuals, corporations, partnerships and not for profit organizations.

Mayor Tom Schwedhelm said:

“We know many of our businesses are facing challenges right now, especially our restaurants, many of which lease downtown property from the city. Allowing them to pause their lease payment during the hardship is a simple way the City can continue to provide support for our community. We hope our actions encourage other commercial landlords to take similar steps for their business tenants.”

Source: County of Sonoma as of Saturday.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native who works out of City Hall and rides Muni every single day to work. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn

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