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Covid-19 update: SF lays out school reopening plan, state passes last-minute tenant protection

Though the Bay Area has been understandably distracted by recent severe weather and rampant wildfires, the Covid-19 situation still lies under the surface. Despite seven of nine counties still being subject to the state’s most strict guidelines, there are hopeful downward trends across the region. It remains to be seen if the massive evacuations prompted by wildfires will have much of an impact on community spread.

We get into the latest advice to the nation from Dr. Deborah Birx on the topic of face coverings, take a look at a last-minute state legislative save for struggling tenants and bring you the latest data from around the Bay Area.


  • Confirmed Cases: 6,073,840
  • Deaths: 184,659

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 global tracking tool as of Tuesday at 8:28 p.m.

Dr. Deborah Birx was pretty direct on the topic of masks when she spoke to reporters Sunday from St. Paul, Minnesota. She urged people all over the country to not only resist complacency but to increase use of face coverings, even when with family members. The White House Covid-19 task force doctor said:

“Whether it’s a wedding, whether it’s a funeral, whether it’s a birthday party, whether it’s just a Sunday afternoon dinner where we brought together our family from across the city and we’re sitting in the backyard, if you don’t have a mask on and someone is within 6 feet, virus spread can and will occur.”

Birx made it clear that her message is intended for people in all areas of the country, city and rural alike. Though she has high hopes for a vaccine, the doctor reminded people that preventing community spread is the best option until a vaccine is thoroughly tested and proven safe.

Some of the hardest hit states, in terms of cumulative infections and related deaths, are seeing recent downward trends in response to robust health orders. However, some states in the midwest and southeast portions of the country are experiencing rapid growth in new cases. South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama are currently reflecting the most intense upward trends. 

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  • Confirmed Cases: 715,617
  • Deaths: 13,150

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 global tracking tool as of Tuesday at 8:28 p.m.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday gave the state’s struggling tenants and homeowners some desperately needed relief. He signed legislation that offers protection from eviction for tenants who have been unable to pay all or part of rent due to income lost during the pandemic. Property owners who have been impacted by loss of paid rent are further protected from foreclosures.

The bill was a last-minute push to protect tenants before the end of the 2020 Legislature session.

The protections shield both parties through Feb. 1, 2021 as related to back rent accumulated between March 4 and Monday. As of Tuesday, tenants are expected to pay at least 25 percent of rent in order to remain protected. Tenants are required to declare the financial hardship.

Ching Wong/SFBay California passed last-minute legislation late Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 to protect tenants and property owners from eviction and foreclosure due to income loss during the pandemic.

Although tenants cannot be evicted for missed payments in the protected period, they can be sued in civil court.

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who co-authored the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, said Tuesday:

“The bill we voted on last night I would describe as a less than perfect but absolutely necessary solution to a colossal problem.”

Further details can be accessed on the state’s website.

An outbreak at a Foster Farms chicken processing plant in Livingston is prompting partial closure of the facility beginning Tuesday and through Sept. 7, Merced County officials said in a statement released Saturday. 

According to the county Saturday, eight employees at the Foster Farms Livingston complex had died as a result of the virus and 392 had tested positive.

Google Maps A portion of the Foster Farms chicken processing plant in Livingston, Calif. will be closed for six days beginning Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 after a Covid-19 outbreak and resulting deaths of eight employees.

During the six-day closure, the portion of the affected facility will be deep cleaned and all 1,400 employees will be tested — the closure period will be extended if those goals are not achieved before Sept. 7.

According to the California Department of Public Health as of Monday afternoon, Merced County’s infection rate per 100,000 people is 27.7, which is the highest rate statewide. 

Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 18,445
  • Deaths: 257
  • Tier: Widespread

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

As of Sunday, 183 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized — less than 30 percent of the county’s intensive care units remained available. More than 10 percent of the county’s Covid-19 deaths have been among people between the ages of 51 to 60.  

The number of positive test results in Oakland has reached 7,448, representing about 40 percent of the county’s cumulative total. 

Under the new state tier system allowances, the county Monday permitted indoor malls to reopen at 25 percent capacity and grocery stores at 50 percent capacity.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 tracking highlighting cases by day in Alameda and Contra Costa counties as of Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 14,305
  • Deaths: 175
  • Tier: Widespread

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

Health officials reported only 82 new cases Monday, down significantly from the 121 positive test results that were added Sunday.

In response to the state’s new system, the county issued a statement Tuesday about reopening indoor shopping malls for 25 percent capacity in accordance with restrictions laid out by the state for congregate areas and food courts. Gyms and fitness centers are also now permitted to operate outdoors, though heat and smoke may hinder those efforts. 

Marin County*

  • Confirmed Cases: 6,205
  • Deaths: 96
  • Tier: Widespread 

Source: Marin Health and Human Services and CDCR data as of Tuesday.

*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 and deaths are detailed below but are included in county of residence totals. 

The California Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework designates Marin County in the Widespread (red) tier but the county is permitted and to reopen indoor shopping malls at 25 percent capacity as of Monday. In a Friday press release, Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s public health officer said:

“Yes, we’re seeing fewer cases, but we still have a long way to go. We need to protect these gains and stop transmission, so we can move forward through this new framework.”

Marin County hopes to move into the substantial tier on Sept. 8 if cases and positivity rates continue trending downward.

San Quentin State Prison 

Twenty-six San Quentin inmates have died as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak that has infected a total of 2,236 incarcerated people and another 277 staff members at the facility. As of Tuesday, 16 inmates have active infections.  

Wallpaper Flare As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, 26 San Quentin State Prison inmates had died as a result of Covid-19.

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,444
  • Deaths: 13
  • Tier: Substantial

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Tuesday.

Napa County, which has been battered by recent wildfires, is enjoying the slightly lifted restrictions allowed under the state’s new tier system. Being designated as Substantial (red), indoor shopping malls can welcome guests at 50 percent capacity and fitness centers are permitted 10 percent capacity indoors. While wineries are still required to serve customers outdoors, diners can start eating meals inside restaurants again with limitations. Movie theaters and houses of worship can also reopen doors.

Of course, each business is required to strictly follow capacity guidelines and establish health and safety plans.

Students could be back in their classroom seats around Sept. 14 if the county stays in the red tier for a two-week period.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 9,544
  • Deaths: 83
  • Tier: Substantial 

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

Mayor London Breed Tuesday announced a revised reopening plan that will allow a slew of businesses to operate and some students to return to classrooms.

Prompted by the state’s new four-tier system that replaces the County Monitoring List, city officials are planning to give the green light sometime mid-September for outdoor tour buses and boats, outdoor family entertainment, indoor museums, zoos, worship services and transitional kindergarten through sixth-grade in-person instruction.

By the end of the month, hair salons, barber shops, personal care services and gyms can set back up indoors.

All businesses and services soon to reopen will be subject to capacity restrictions and are required to submit health and safety plans.

San Francisco is only one of two Bay Area counties able to move into this next reopening phase due metrics reporting that designates the Covid-19 spread as substantial. Napa County is also in the substantial tier — all seven other counties are still in the widespread category, which prohibits the reopening phase San Francisco is being granted.

Miles Garnier Parkgoers within socially-distant marked circles are seen at Dolores Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

However, all progress could be reversed if the number of new cases per 100,000 people and test positivity rates worsen substantially or over an extended period of time.

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 8,260
  • Deaths: 132
  • Tier: Widespread

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

The Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo opened doors to customers Monday after the most recent three weeks of closure. The reopening is permitted under the state’s new four-tier metrics system that allows counties even in the highest tier to welcome back customers at 25 percent capacity and will restrictions on congregate areas. The food court will not be operating until the county shows significant improvement and progresses through the CDPH-designated tiers.

In addition to indoor shopping malls, hair salons and barbershops can also now provide indoor services for a limited number of customers.

Health officials reported an additional 93 positive test results Monday. The test positivity rate, according to the CDPH Tuesday update, is currently 4.8 percent. Fifty Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized.   

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 17,465
  • Deaths: 248
  • Tier: Widespread

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

Like six other Bay Area counties in the Widespread CDPH tier, Santa Clara County is again allowing indoor operations at shopping malls, hair salons and barber shops with limited capacity and health and safety plans in place.

The county is currently reporting 131 Covid-19 hospital patients.

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,547
  • Deaths: 47
  • Tier: Widespread

Source: Solano Public Health as of Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The county health order was revised Tuesday to align with the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and the Widespread designation and to clarify gathering requirements for face coverings and social distancing. All revisions were made in accordance with the latest CDPH guidelines rolled out Friday.

Hair salons, barber shops and shopping malls are now permitted to operate indoors, as seen throughout most of the Bay Area, with limited capacity and health and safety plans on file.

The seven-day moving average of daily new cases dropped significantly Monday to 29 cases, down from nearly 39 the prior day. County hospitals are currently treating 28 Covid-19 patients.

Vallejo Fire Department on Fac Valllejo Fire Department truck ladder in Vallejo, Calif.

The Vallejo Fire Department received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the amount of $30,354 toward reimbursement for personal protective equipment related to Covid-19. The grant will help the department absorb already paid expenses for masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns.

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,800
  • Deaths: 80

Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Friday at 8:45 p.m.

Sonoma County may be further than any other in the Bay Area from reaching the next less-restrictive tier on the new CDPH system. As of Tuesday, the state reports a new case rate of 15.9 per 100,000 people and test positivity rate of 6.5 percent. The “substantial” tier maximum limits are seven infections per 100,000 and a 8 percent positive test rate. The test rate is close but new daily cases per capita are more than double what it would take to move to the next phase.


  • Confirmed Cases: 25,749,642
  • Deaths: 857,015

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 global tracking tool as of Tuesday at 8:28 p.m.

Based on available data, case fatality rates in Brazil and India, the only two other countries with more than one million reported positive test results, are 3.1 and 1.8, respectively. Of course, it is hard to compare how different countries are experiencing or controlling the spread of the virus when testing and reporting strategies widely vary.

Jesse Garnier SFBay global Covid-19 tracking as of Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.
Open SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker.
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