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Covid-19 update: ‘Reopen’ protests under scrutiny, activists bring ‘body bags’ to SF, national deaths surpass 40,000

Testing and reopening strategies have emerged as prominent themes this past week both here at home in the Bay Area and across the country. But in the midst of the data and science debate, dissent of all stripes is also on the rise.   


  • Confirmed Cases: 758,720
  • Deaths: 40,665

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 tracking tool as of Sunday at 6:51 p.m.

Open SFBay USA coronavirus tracker.

Testing has been a source of heavy debate since the 2019 novel coronavirus began making its mark in the U.S. Headlines have been dominated for the past month by topics of test kit shortages, inaccuracy of tests and lack of viable test protocol. Now, as several governors hinge reopening strategies on antibody identification, tests remain at the center of conversation. In fact, Donald Trump opened the Sunday White House Covid-19 press briefing by talking about tests, using a swab as visual aid.

Political leaders from both sides of the aisle have pointed to a need for robust antibody testing to determine if and when America’s workforce can get back to business as usual. The thought being that if someone has developed the Covid-19 antibody, they would be deemed “immune” from contracting the virus, making it safe to go back to work.

However, it is still unclear if the antibody indeed creates “immunity” and prevents prior patients from contracting the virus again in the short term. 

Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr 2019 novel coronavirus test.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 163 cases of people who have recovered and later retested positive for Covid-19. The reinfection findings, which have also been reported out of China, indicate that immunity after an initial exposure is not necessarily guaranteed. The World Health Organization announced last week it will further investigate the positive retests.   

In addition, scientists and regulatory agencies have voiced concerns surrounding accuracy and consistency of antibody tests currently on the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday provided a “letter to health care providers” regarding use of serological, or antibody, tests. Though the FDA recommends their use to identify people who have been exposed, the letter clearly states that none of the tests have been reviewed by the agency and that providers should be aware of the test limitations and false claims.    

Since Easter Sunday evening, more than 17,000 people have died from Covid-19 across the U.S. 

Still, people last week protested lockdowns ordered by governors and economic halts resulting from the pandemic in various states. Despite orders to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from each other, several participants were seen standing in close proximity to each other, many without masks and some bearing arms.

The “reopen” protests popped up over the last week and through the weekend in Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Utah, Oregon, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and, yes, in California. A Fox News segment highlighting a map graphic claimed that “Freedom Protests to Reopen Economy Planned in 21 States” between Sunday and May 2. 

Many people in many states are undeniably upset with disruption caused in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent social and economic shutdowns, but the origin of these sudden protests is being called into question as suspect.

A reddit poster using the platform to criticize the Annapolis, Maryland protest drew the attention of someone under the name of “Dr. Midnight,” who replied to the original post Saturday with an extensive breakdown of “whois” research behind a number of the early protest group pages. The poster found that not only was nearly verbatim language used across groups in several states, but that group webpage domains, several with ties to gun rights lobbies, all traced back to the same registrar, created on the same exact day and time. 

Screenshot saved by Nik Wojcik/reddit First of several screen shots depicting a reddit post that breaks down the origin of “Reopen” protest group pages across several states.

The information suggests these protests are far more organized by specific agenda political activist groups and not by some massive grassroots movement as they may appear at first glance. A link to the original reddit post and lengthy and linked reply by Dr. Midnight can be accessed here.  


  • Confirmed Cases: 31,431
  • Deaths: 1,177

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 tracking tool as of Tuesday at 6:52 p.m.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,164
  • Deaths: 42

Source: The Alameda County Public Health Department with data reported through Saturday and including Berkeley.

According to the Alameda County Covid-19 dashboard, Oakland and Hayward have reported the highest concentrations of the county’s confirmed cases, with 301 and 226 cases, respectively.

The county’s breakdown by race and ethnicity includes an “unknown” category where the vast majority, 367, of cases appear. However, the second highest concentration, 274 people, is among the Hispanic/Latino community with nearly 100 more confirmed cases than is seen among Asian residents.  

The number of cases at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin remains at 31, with 15 inmate patients who have fully recovered, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Sunday. 

Jesse Garnier/SFBay SFBay Covid-19 tracker as of Sunday, April 19, 2020.
Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window.

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 693
  • Deaths: 20

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

County health officials reported Sunday that more than 9,000 tests have been administered and 34 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized for severe illness. Notably, the majority of confirmed cases have been among women and those between the ages of 41 to 60 years old. The largest concentration of the county’s caseload comes from the suburban city of Orinda, with a concentration of 243 infections per 100,000 people. Orinda is the same city where an outbreak swept through a skilled nursing facility, killing four patients as of Monday.

Google Maps Contra Costa County officials announced Friday, April 3, 2020 that 27 people, including three staff members, have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Orinda Care Center in Orinda, Calif.

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 195
  • Deaths: 10

Source: Marin Health and Human Services as of Sunday.

Officials said in a status update Sunday that 10 residential care and skilled nursing facilities have reported a total of 23 patients and 20 staff members who have tested positive for the virus. Three people are currently being hospitalized countywide.

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 47
  • Deaths: 2

Source: Department of Health and Human Services with data through Saturday, as reported by Sonoma County’s Bay Area Covid-19 tracker.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,137
  • Deaths: 20

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health with data through Saturday.

The political activist group Refuse Fascism organized several protests and visual demonstrations around the country over the weekend in objection to the Trump administration’s handling of the Covid-19 health crisis. The group Saturday situated mock body bags in front of Trump-owned properties and federal buildings in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia. 

Sunday, they brought their message to the San Francisco Federal Building.

Courtesy of Refuse Fascism Activist group Refuse Fascism organized a series of demonstrations April 18 and April 19, 2020 in objection to the Donald Trump administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group said they planned to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines during the seven demonstrations. Most participants arrived in separate vehicles with banners posted to exteriors. Some people placed the body bags on sidewalks in front of the target buildings and stood with signs safe distances apart.  

In a statement of conscience/call to act linked in a press release, organizers said:

“The anti-science Trump/Pence regime hid the danger of the COVID-19 virus, now a pandemic, for months, setting the stage for possibly catastrophic impact and placing those who have been targets of their overall program in the most jeopardy – immigrants forced into shadows and concentration camps; millions of Black and brown people languishing in prisons; the people of Iran facing crippling sanctions; the poor, sick, and homeless here and around the world.”

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 838
  • Deaths: 28

Source: San Mateo County Health Department with data reported through Friday.

As of Friday, officials reported that despite 52 patients in intensive care unit beds and 53 requiring ventilators, the county still has 26 ICU beds and 194 ventilators available for patient use if needed. Of the more than 8,000 people tested, 10 percent, or 803 people, were confirmed to be carrying the virus with less than 200 tests pending Friday.   

Santa Clara County*

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,870
  • Deaths: 73

*Santa Clara County did not provide data Saturday or Sunday due to an update issue with the Reportable Disease Information Exchange, according to county officials. 

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health Department as of Friday.

Building on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Saturday announcement focused on acquisition of hotel rooms for the state’s homeless population, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Sunday that Motel 6 is scaling up the number of rooms they will make available as part of the “Project Roomkey” program. The mayor said the motel giant will now provide more than 16,000 rooms to shelter homeless and otherwise vulnerable people through the Covid-19 pandemic, more than tripling the prior commitment to provide more than 5,000 rooms.

Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons Motel 6 has partnered with the state of California to provide more than 5,000 hotel rooms to house homeless residents through the Covid-19 pandemic. The effort is part of the “Project Roomkey” program, which was launched in the beginning of April 2020.

In a separate Tweet Sunday, Liccardo said:

“We don’t want these rooms open for a few weeks or a few months. This is an opportunity for Congress to step up & give cities + counties the dollars they need to purchase motels/hotels to house residents in need long after this crisis is over.”

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 169
  • Deaths: 2

Source: Solano Public Health as of Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Vallejo is experiencing the largest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, 67, in the county, according to data published by the health department Friday. People between the ages of 19 to 64 years old represent the greatest share of patients requiring hospitalization due to severe illness. There were 12 people hospitalized among the county’s 33 active cases as of Friday.

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 92
  • Deaths: 2

Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Sunday at 7 p.m.

Sonoma County health officials reported Sunday that females represent a majority of the total confirmed case count by a 10 percent margin. Among those who have tested positive, 12 percent have required hospitalization, though 87 people have reportedly recovered from the illness to date. 

Open SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article read Orinda, with a total of 243 patients identified,” which has since been corrected to read, “Orinda, with a concentration of 243 infections per 100,000 people.”

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