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Covid-19 update: Dorsey gifts $15 million, state helps school families buy groceries, Bay Area cases exceed 10,000, Senate weighs caution versus ‘magical thinking’

The Senate grilled Covid-19 medical experts in a surreal virtual setting, Jack Dorsey gave San Francisco $15 million, Contra Costa is looking to make contact tracing detectives of volunteers, the state is issuing special EBT cards to many school families in need of groceries and the plan to recovery is being hatched on a micro level with macro resource needs.

Alameda County is still concerning in its unyielding upward trajectory. Though other Bay Area counties are still accumulating steady if not substantial daily cases, they at least show a slight flattening or downturn in general. Alameda County’s trend line is stubbornly steep and climbing.

SFBay Covid-19 dashboard highlighting cumulative cases in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
Jesse Garnier

Here’s the latest Covid-19 news from around the nine-county Bay Area and beyond. 


  • Confirmed Cases: 1,369,386
  • Deaths: 82,339

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 global tracking tool as of Tuesday at 6:32 p.m.

It was an odd yet somber scene as the Senate held a Covid-19 status hearing of sorts Tuesday morning. Medical expert witnesses and legislators participated remotely from their homes or private offices, excepting Sen. Rand Paul, who sat bearded in the chamber and ready to fire on Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling the White House task force epidemiologist he is not the “end-all.” 

Paul said:

“I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make the decision. We can listen to your advice. But there are people on the other side saying there won’t be a surge and we can safely open the economy.” 

As senators from both sides of the aisle grilled the experts and by proxy praised or criticized the administration, the message coming from witnesses was largely unified: If states reopen too fast and do not heed guidelines, and if there is still no vaccine, there will be a resurgence and more deaths. A major point of contention between Paul and Fauci lies in the timetable for school reopenings.

Fauci said:

“I think we better be careful that we’re not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”

There has been a growing concern over children suffering from inflammatory problems due to a Covid-19-related condition. NBC New York reported Monday that at least five children in New York have died as a result.  

Sen. Chris Murphy said federal recovery and reopening guidance has been “criminally vague” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren said:

“The time for magical thinking is over.”

Open SFBay USA coronavirus tracker.


  • Confirmed Cases: 70,782 
  • Deaths: 2,859

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 global tracking tool as of Tuesday at 6:32 p.m.

The state is providing additional food benefits for families with students who qualify for free or reduced meals. The Pandemic-EBT benefit will provide up to $365 per eligible child to cover the four-month period after the mid-March campus shutdowns. According to the state, “most families with children who receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits” will automatically receive P-EBT cards in the mail between May 7 and May 22.

However, families must apply before June 30 if their children are eligible for free or reduced meals but do not receive any of the other state benefits listed above. Families who wish to apply can do so online beginning May 22 at

Orange County 

  • Confirmed Cases: 3,602
  • Deaths: 62

In the 11 days since the mass “reopen” protest in Huntington Beach, more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed and the number of patients requiring intensive care treatment has nearly doubled.

Source: Orange County Health Care Agency as of Tuesday, 11 days after the May 1 Huntington Beach protest.  

Sacramento County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,181
  • Deaths: 50

Source: Sacramento County Public Health as of Tuesday, 11 days after the May 1 State Capitol protest.


Data reported by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and LinkedIn show a 25 percent decline in Bay Area hiring since February. The local hiring statistic is a bit worse than the national average of 21 percent, but Bay Area is faring better than areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix, which are experiencing between 37 and 40 percent hiring dips.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard as of Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 2,133
  • Deaths: 74

Source: Alameda County Public Health Department as of Monday with data reported through Sunday.

County health officials issued updated testing guidance Tuesday that encourages clinicians to test for Covid-19 in:

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Healthcare workers in contact with patients, first responders and essential workers
  • People aged 65 and older who are experiencing symptoms
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People identified by contact tracing
  • People with symptoms to live in congregate settings
  • Asymptomatic people who live or work in congregate settings under certain situations  
Alameda County Covid-19 hospital rates by day in Alameda County, Calif. as of Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,066
  • Deaths: 32

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

Health officials are asking county schools to host virtual or drive-through graduation and promotion ceremonies. An alternative for schools that can’t do either is to host groups of 25 or fewer students at 6-foot distances without any family or friends present. The drive-through option would allow students to drive in with up to six members of immediate family, all wearing face coverings, and approach a diploma table one group at a time.

Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, said in Tuesday’s press release: 

“We recognize the need for people to connect and celebrate. However, gatherings like graduation ceremonies are a major contributor to the spread of COVID-19.”

Nik Wojcik/SFBay Sign in downtown Concord, Calif. on Sunday, April 26, 2020 reminding people to remain 6 feet apart from others while out in public spaces during the Covid-19 shelter-in-place and physical distancing orders.

If you have some free time and are willing to do some research, the county might be able to use your help. Health officials are looking for volunteers who can act as “contact tracers” who will track down other people who may have been infected by a confirmed Covid-19 patient in order to test, isolate and treat as necessary. 

The tracing and additional testing will also provide officials with more robust data to base future health orders and guidance on. Several county employees, including librarians, have pivoted to tracing work with training through a University of California at San Francisco-run virtual “tracing academy.”

People who wish to volunteer can email for further information.

Officials also announced Tuesday that patient recovery data will be made available this week on the county’s Covid-19 dashboard.       

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 271
  • Deaths: 14

Source: Marin Health and Human Services as of Monday.

Three patients and three staff members at four of the county’s residential care and skilled nursing facilities are currently being treated for or recovering from Covid-19 — 61 people from those facilities, patients and staff, have tested positive for the virus to date.   

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 81
  • Deaths: 3

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

Napa County, which experienced a delayed start in cases, reports less than half of the 81 confirmed Covid-19 patients have so far recovered. A little more than 2,500 tests have been administered, according to the county’s Tuesday data.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,977
  • Deaths: 35

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

Jack Dorsey is providing $15 million in funding for “undocumented, mixed-status, and low-income households in San Francisco.” The funding announced by Mayor London Breed Tuesday will be used as part of the Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and it will be split equally three ways to support food security, housing access and workers and small businesses. The donation comes from Dorsey’s #StartSmall campaign.

City officials said in the statement:

“Many African American, Latino, immigrant, and low-income communities in San Francisco have been especially hard-hit by the coronavirus. … For example, Latino people make up 40% of reported cases of COVID-19 even though they make up just 15% of San Francisco’s population.”     

Joi Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donated $15 million to a San Francisco, Calif. fund to help undocumented and low-income residents struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The $15 million more than doubles the already raised $11 million that according to the press release will:

  • Support 5,000 households over three months with grocery gift cards, home-delivered and takeaway meals, and other related food supports
  • Provide at least 1,250 households with up to $3,000 for assistance meeting housing costs, including rent and utilities
  • Provide financial relief for immigrant workers and provide 0% interest loans to small businesses through the San Francisco Hardship Emergency Loan Program

In the statement released by the Office of the Mayor, Dorsey said:

“COVID-19 affects us all, but disproportionately affects those who were already in need.”

Dorsey added:

“It’s important to acknowledge this fact and provide more support to those who are struggling. Food and shelter to weather this crisis is critical, and I want to thank the Mayor and City of San Francisco for ensuring these funds will help people directly and immediately.”

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,497
  • Deaths: 65

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

The county is reporting an 8 percent positivity rate from the 18,819 administered tests, with only four tests pending results as of Sunday. Also reported Sunday, 52 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, 17 requiring ICU treatment. 

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 2,364
  • Deaths: 130

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

Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, provided a status report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday and explained the decision not to locally implement Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. 

It should be noted that the governor clearly delegated the decision to move faster or slower into Phase 2 to local governments and health officials.

Cody said she understands that people are questioning why other areas are moving to reopen when Santa Clara County is holding back. However, she reported that “the conditions really haven’t changed” in Alameda County.

Cody said:

“We don’t suddenly have herd immunity. We don’t suddenly have a vaccine. We have exactly the same conditions that we had in March. … If we did ease up, we would see a brisk return of cases, of hospitalizations, and a brisk return of deaths, to be quite blunt.” 

Cody said:

“We’re running so fast — I just want to make sure we don’t faceplant.” 

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 388 
  • Deaths: 11

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

Confirmed cases in Vallejo continue to climb out of step with the rest of the less densely packed region, driving the trajectory up as the county enters into Stage 2 of the reopening plan. As of Tuesday, Vallejo reports 230 positive Covid-19 patients. 

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 312
  • Deaths: 4

Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Monday at 8 p.m. 

The county is holding two virtual town halls one week from Tuesday to address questions and concerns the public may have amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The event from 5 to 6 p.m. will be hosted and streamed in Spanish — another event in English will be streamed between 7 and 8 p.m. Further station information and links to submit questions ahead of the meeting can be accessed on the county’s website.  

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