The Bay Area hit a somber milestone with more than 700 deaths caused by Covid-19. Case tracking regionally seems to be lagging in data reporting by three to seven days in several counties, meaning that what we see Monday could be worse by the end of the week. Still, the Bay Area’s seven-day new case per day average is peaking above 900 — that’s likely a low estimate when data fills in over the course of coming days.
The Congress is hitting a wall against Trump demands in the battle over the next stimulus bill. High school sports are just going to have to wait a little longer, but many Californians will finally be able get their hair trimmed in outdoor salon chairs.
Let’s catch up on the latest Covid-19 around from around the Bay Area and beyond.
- Confirmed Cases: 3,829,920
- Deaths: 140,905
Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Monday at 9 p.m.
The White House and Congress are quickly approaching a showdown over the next Covid-19 federal stimulus bill. Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are already struggling enough to align on the unemployment extension aspect — the Democrats’ HEROES Act bill seeks to extend the $600 pandemic benefit and Republicans want to see that benefit reduced by about $400. But the Trump administration is amplifying tension by pushing hard for cuts to payroll taxes used to fund Medicare and Social Security.
Trump is not getting much support for payroll cuts from either side of the aisle, but it’s likely Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will include the provision in the GOP’s version of the relief bill in an effort to appease the president.
There is a $2 trillion divide between what Democrats passed and what the Senate and Trump administration are crafting. Additionally, there are rumblings that the GOP bill, under Trump’s direction, may attempt to cut back financial support for Covid-19 testing and withhold relief funding for schools that do not fully reopen.
Swaths of economists have stressed the need for a robust relief package that includes recurring stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits and substantial aid for states and counties hard hit by the lasting pandemic.
Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, both former Federal Reserve chairs, testified Friday to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. They both urged Congress to extend substantial financial relief as a stop gap to the economic disaster fueled by the increasingly unchecked pandemic.
“To avoid major cuts, federal support should be substantial and conditions on aid should not be overly restrictive.”
Yellen told Congress that even if the infection rates decline, the country is likely looking at three years before the unemployment rate drops to near pre-pandemic levels. She also said that not extending unemployment benefits would result in a catastrophe.
Bernanke expressed support for the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which was passed by the House in May but has since stalled in the Senate.
As it stands now, the country’s economic recovery attempt is being stifled by a surge in cases and hospitalizations. About 20 million people remain unemployed, according to the Department of Labor, and that figure is a modest estimate. Despite promising job gains reported in June, the spread of the virus in July forced many industries to again shut down in states across the country.
- Confirmed Cases: 397,870
- Deaths: 7,770
Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Friday at 9 p.m.
High school sports traditionally played in the fall and winter will be delayed in California this year, according to a Monday announcement made by the California Interscholastic Federation. Exact dates for each season’s start are yet to be finalized, but it’s expected that many fall and winter sports will begin sometime in December or January and will finish by early April at latest. Some sports will be pushed into spring for the entire season.
The CIF is suspending certain bylaws for the 2020-2021 year that ordinarily prohibit students from playing on external teams while they play for school teams. The decision to delay sports schedules comes in light of the recent virus surge and number of schools unable to reopen for in-person instruction as the school year begins.
In a statement, the CIF said:
“We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the governor’s office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom Friday addressed the topic of schools reopening amid the soaring Covid-19 pandemic throughout the state. The issue has been controversial, with districts and parents struggling to plan for classes set to begin in a matter of weeks. The state’s guidance, which is considered a mandate for publicly funded schools, clarified the expectations.
Basically, districts in counties that have been off the County Monitoring List for 14 or more consecutive days can choose to reopen schools for in-person instruction. When they do reopen, schools will be subject to strict mask and physical distancing regulations, and campuses must be modified to accommodate the changes.
Counties that don’t meet the County Monitoring List requirement must begin the school year online. Schools in those areas will not be permitted to physically reopen until the county is off the list for 14 days.
“Students, teachers, staff and parents all all prefer in-classroom instruction, but only if it can be done safely.”
The governor’s office Monday released revised guidance that now allows hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and massage services to operate outdoors in counties with indoor restrictions. People can fix their nails and get that badly needed haircut or massage out in the fresh air under sun coverings with no more than one side enclosed, allowing for air circulation. The move is helpful for small businesses struggling to survive under prior health orders and individuals who have gone months without a haircut.
- Confirmed Cases: 9,256
- Deaths: 162
Source: Alameda County Public Health Department as of Monday with data reported through Sunday.
Health officials revised the county’s shelter-in-place order with amendments made Saturday and Sunday. Among changes made in the revised order, “social bubbles” can gather outdoors, child care providers can extend service to non-essential working families and distancing requirements are refined by business type.
A look at Monday’s county data shows that of the 162 Covid-19 patients who have died, 19, or nearly 12 percent, were between the ages of 51 to 60. It’s oft repeated that the virus really only endangers the elderly, but in Alameda County, 11.7 percent of Covid-19 deaths have occured in people below retirement age.
The last hospitalization data reported reflects that Covid-19 hospitalization numbers are nearly at peak rates. As of Saturday, Alameda County hospitals were caring for 163 coronavirus patients.
The number of infections at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin has soared past 100 — most tests have come back positive in just the past week.
Protesters objecting to health conditions at the jail facility came out Monday to demand something be done before Santa Rita Jail becomes the next San Quentin State Prison, which we highlight in the Marin County section below.
Contra Costa County
- Confirmed Cases: 5,731
- Deaths: 99
Source: Contra Costa Health Services as of Friday at 11:30 a.m.
Contra Costa Health Services last reported that 82 Covid-19 patients were being hospitalized countywide. An additional 115 cases and one death have been reported in the past 24 hours — the death was outside the area’s long-term care facility system. The seven-day rolling average has dropped to 123 new cases per day, down from the 151 per day average noted on July 10, but the hospitalization rate continues to climb, keeping the county firmly on the state’s County Monitoring List.
- Confirmed Cases: 4,357
- Deaths: 45
*Marin County began reporting San Quentin State Prison cases separately, but for the purposes of tracking actual infections and potential impact on the county, we’ve included inmate cases with the county’s cumulative total. Staff member infections are detailed below but are included in county of residence totals.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider civil penalties for businesses found to be in violation of health orders. The penalties would bolster plans for a local task force to enforce health codes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. People can leave tips about violators by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excluding San Quentin State Prison data, Marin County reported Monday a total of 2,288 confirmed cases, 31 deaths and. 32 Covid-19 patients receiving hospital treatment.
San Quentin State Prison
The facility Covid-19 case total among both inmates and staff is now up to 2,371. A little more than 300 were staff members, but the remaining 2,069 confirmed infections came from inmates, 13 of whom have died as a result.
- Confirmed Cases: 632
- Deaths: 7
Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Monday.
The city of Napa Monday reported 358 Covid-19 cases, making up more than 56 percent of the county’s cumulative total. Eleven coronavirus patients were being treated in hospitals, according to the most recent data.
- Confirmed Cases: 5,305
- Deaths: 52
Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health as of Sunday.
Health officials updated data Saturday to illustrate how The City is performing in key health indicator categories. The good news is there are plenty of acute care and ICU beds available. Contact tracing and PPE levels are at a low alert, basically meaning they’re sustainable but need improvement. The bad news lies in increasing hospitalization rates and average number of cases per day per 100,000 residents, which are both in dangerously unstable territory.
San Mateo County
- Confirmed Cases: 4,551
- Deaths: 114
Source: San Mateo County Health Department with data reported through Sunday.
Dr. Scott Morrow, the county’s health officer, sent a letter out to the community Monday evening and stressed that people, not businesses, need to advocate for their own health. He criticized the current system that pressures employees into unsafe conditions, especially for those who work as essential workers on the front lines. Morrow went as far as calling the U.S. economic structure “illogical, even immoral,” yet he didn’t shy from placing responsibility at the feet of individual people and personal choices.
“Please note, your seemingly innocuous get togethers are driving the spread and are a major reason why you can’t go to a restaurant, why you can’t go to the gym, why you can’t go get your hair cut, why kids can’t go to school.”
Santa Clara County
- Confirmed Cases: 7,795
- Deaths: 178
Los Altos is following in the footsteps of other cities that have already closed off portions of streets to traffic to make room for outdoor dining and retailers who choose to sell merchandise outside. The Open Street Los Altos initiative will partially close downtown streets Thursday through Monday until at least Sept. 28. Pedestrians are expected to wear a mask in those areas unless they are eating, drinking or are under the age of 2.
Reporting through Sunday reflects a total of 156 Covid-19-positive patients currently being treated in county hospitals, which for yet another day represents the highest coronavirus patient rate since the pandemic took hold in the region.
- Confirmed Cases: 2,759
- Deaths: 34
Source: Solano Public Health as of Monday at 4:30 p.m.
County hospitals are currently caring for 53 Covid-19 patients and health officials report an alarming 7.9 percent seven-day test positive average, meaning that hospital rates will likely go up as infections develop.
Monday data reflects 921 cases coming out of Vallejo and another 944 coming from Fairfield. Additionally, county health officials report that of the 34 deaths, three people were between the ages of 18 to 48 years old and another four were between 50 and 64 years of age. The seven people under 65 years old represent a fifth of the county’s total death toll.
- Confirmed Cases: 2,212
- Deaths: 20
Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Monday at 9:22 p.m.
- Confirmed Cases: 14,701,198
- Deaths: 609,806
Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Monday at 9 p.m.
A vaccine being developed at University of Oxford is showing promising results in the testing phase. Several people given the drug in trials have been shown to later present antibodies and T-cells thought to fight Covid-19. Reports are that so far no dangerous side effects have presented during trials but about 70 percent of vaccine recipients report headaches or fevers. The trial at this point is still focused on evaluating the safety of administering the new drug and is not currently focused around its effectiveness.
Expanded trials are planned in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. Despite early promise, it could still be until at least early next year before a tested and approved vaccine is released in widespread form to the public.